When it is time to say goodbye to an old friend

This will undoubtedly be the hardest thing I have written.  We will need to make a decision soon…is it time?  I don’t know how you can make that decision with 100% certainty. We no longer want Sarge to suffer…but does he want to keep fighting?  Ten years ago he escaped from his yard and was hit by a car, and luckily a passerby stopped and put his bloodied body in the back of their car and rushed him to the emergency Vet.  Unfortunately, this particular Vet did not like Pit Bulls and did not give him any treatment at all. After several hours of fighting with the Vet we took him home with us and decided to wait the weekend out and take him to a Vet near our home.  We took turns sleeping on the floor with him…and pleaded with him to just hang on until Monday.  He did hang on…he had suffered broken bones in his nose, some cracked ribs, bruises and the tendons in his front leg were damaged.  Dr. Harry fell in love with Sarge that day, because although he was in great pain, he still showed love for those around him.  Once after a follow-up visit Dr. Harry said “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people were more like Sarge?” After a few months of hoping his tendons would recover, we decided to amputate his leg.  The surgery went well…his recovery from the anesthesia  did not.  Dr. Harry could not understand why he wasn’t coming out of his anesthesia…so once again we took him home with us…kept vigil through the night and pleaded again.  Dr. Harry continued to call every couple of hours until he finally rallied and recovered.

But now it’s old age…and arthritis…and his once strong muscular body is weathered and brittle.  He still tries to live the life of a Pit Bull…full of life and energy…but it’s just not there.  We no longer see the sparkle in his eyes…we are not sure exactly what we see…some days are better than others…but not always.  As his caretakers we have a responsibility to make the right decision…to not put our own grief of losing him ahead of his pain and suffering.  But is he “really” suffering? Would we put an elderly parent out of their misery just because they are no longer who they used to be?  If it were one of us would we want to fight until the very end…or would we want somebody to make that un-makeable decision for us? Will I betray him if I make the decision to soon…or too late?  Will I see him again…?  Will he be reunited with his best friend Porky the cat that was another rescue?

I don’t have the answer…but what I do know is Sarge taught us not to pre-judge…we didn’t want him in the beginning…I told my son no when he asked if we could take Sarge in. I had heard enough about Pit Bulls and they made me nervous. But his heart won us over and confirmed that dogs are not a commodity or personal property….they are family. His perseverance taught us not to give up.  and now we have to make a decision for this family member…and it will be the hardest decision of my 50 years…


12 Responses

  1. Well now that I’m a ball of snot and tears all I can say is I’m sorry. It’s one of hardest decisions a pet parent ever has to make. Sending you All lots of healing love…

    • They are part of us…and there is no easy way to handle this. Thanks for the kind words:)

      • Sorry I wasn’t very eloquent with the “snot and tears” comment, I had to be truthful though…I’m tearing up and have a ton of empathy for your decision…it’s the hardest one is right…I once lost my 15 year old cat and 15 year old dog 3 days apart, thought it was the worst week of my life and now I can reflect on those dark days with understanding that we were supposed to go through that together. I’m just thankful they were part of my life. I’m thankful for the roles they played and the lessons they taught and in the end I’m thankful to have been there to hold on until they let go…

      • We don’t need to be eloquent when talking about our loved ones:) I appreciate your compassion and kind words. Thank you

  2. I struggled with the same decisions when I was younger with some of my cats. One I had over half my life while the other not near long enough. I could not let them go even though I knew it was time.
    Last year I was “lucky” I guess with my 11 year old chow, Goliath. He was still very strong, happy and healthy for his age. But one night his stomach bloated and twisted. The emergency vet was very honest about his chances and her success rate with the surgery and the painful long recovery if he did make it through surgery. I decided pretty fast that this was no way for him to live the golden years of his life. The 11 years we had together were all golden. So I held him tight as we said goodbye.
    My heart is heavy reading Sarge’s story but know in your heart you have given him the life no one else would. Spent some quiet time alone with him. Talk to your vet. The answer will come to you. Granted you may have to pose the same questions in a month or year.
    I hope but dont know as well if we will see them again or be reunited with their friends lost before them. But I pray we will see them again.

  3. Tammy, Corey and Dennis,

    Sarge was a great dog and you were so fortunate he adopted you for his family. I will never forget the day we were at your lake cottage and the little kids down the lane came over and asked if Sarge could come out to play. He was truly a gentle giant who lived a full and beautiful life. And made ours better for it. So let him go, he will never be far away, he will be in your heart every day.

    Gary and Pam

  4. My heart goes out to you tcastle….no words can ease the sorrow that you are going through. I too have a rescue who is a tripawd..and he is my inspiration..each day. I don’t look forward to the inevitable, but I know it will come. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. We just went through this last week. After watching our 17 year-old dog fade and struggling with the “when” question, we had to make an emergency trip to the vet last week. Unfortunately, he had lung cancer and we had to put him to sleep that day. It was heartbreaking. You will make the right decision for your family. Just know that suffering is terrible and dogs are big fakers because they want to please us.

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