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How do You Know when it’s time to Help Your Golden Across the Rainbow Bridge?

The vet suggested to Roxanne and Harry that it’s time to euthanize their 12 year old golden who has a number of health issues and they are not sure if it’s “time” yet.

I have only three personal experiences with euthanizing a golden:
1. Bart, our foster dog we had for almost a year, had acute kidney failure and went into a coma and we had to make the decision when it was apparent his kidneys were not going to regain function.

2. Our Cappuccino, who had cancer. We knew the day he would not eat his beloved “Milkbone” that it was time.

3. Our Steve, who was in a great deal of pain with a poor prognosis for recovery.

For those of you who have had to euthanize your dog, how did you know it was time? Also, what ways did you commenmorate their life?

Thanx in advance as your comments will certainly help Roxanne and Harry as well as the rest of us golden lovers as we’re all likely to live with a golden who someday needs help crossing the bridge.


1 Kim { 09.17.10 at 4:28 pm }

I have only had one experience with this, a few years ago when my family and I had to make the decision to put down our 13 year old American Eskimo.

She was diagnosed with cancer, and went downhill very fast. We knew it was time, when she could no longer get herself up anymore, we had to hold her to go to the bathroom, and she no longer would eat or drink. It was heartbreaking to see her like this.

For me, when I looked into her eyes I knew it was time. We knew she had a great life and did not want her to suffer. To date, I have never felt such heartache as that last day at the vet.

To commemorate Snowflake’s life, my parents had her cremated, and they have her ashes and pictures, as well as the paw print Three Notch did for us, on a shelf in the family room.

My prayers are with you in this difficult time.

2 Joanne { 09.18.10 at 5:49 pm }

For me, no matter how “obvious” the decision may be, it’s always one that is filled with anguish beforehand and afterwards – a painful decision to make and a painful one to live with, even when you know you have done the right thing for your beloved companion. I don’t think there’s any way around that. You have to accept that burden. As Barbaro’s owner put it, “Grief is the price we pay for love.”

Yes, I think the decision needs to be weighed in terms of suffering and prognosis. If a suffering animal’s prognosis is bad, I think we need to end their pointless suffering. Sometimes it’s easier to make the decision if you have some time to come to terms with it. If a drug will ease the animal’s pain while you prepare yourself and have however much time you need (weeks, even) to say goodbye and do some lavish pampering, it helps.

Between my horses and my dogs, I’ve had all too much experience with this decision, but the only ones I truly regret were when I made an animal suffer unwarrantably for too long.

Reach for the grace you need in this hard time.

3 Betty Davis { 09.21.10 at 11:39 pm }

First let me say that my heart goes out to you. In June of this year, we had to make that decision for our 13 year old Cane Corso. Jake had become part of our family when he was 4 months old and was very much a part of our lives. He was indeed a very special dog. He had been diagnosed with lymphoma and his health declined very quickly. We watched him slipping away while we tried everything in our power to help him hold on. I knew the day would come when I would have to make the decision to end his suffering, but he would go from bad days, when I knew the end was close, to good days when he seemed to be feeling better and wanting to live, definitely not making the decision an easy one.

On day, after a very tearfilled conversation with a very dear friend, I asked her how will I know the time is right. I didn’t want him to suffer, but didn’t want to let go of him until I had to. She said “look in his eyes. His eyes will tell you.” Take time to come to peace with the idea of letting him go, pamper him with special meals, treats and endless ‘I love yous’, but watch what he is telling you. When he is tired of hurting, tired of not being able to be the dog that he was, and he looks at you with those eyes filled with love, but saying ‘I can’t do this anymore’, than it is time to let go. That day came for us on June 28th.

I would strongly recommend that you stay with him when the vet helps him end the suffering. I was with Jake and able to see for myself that he left this world peacefully, with his head in my lap and knowing that he was truly loved. I’m not saying that I’m confortable with having made the decision, I’m not. I’ve second guess myself a hundred times since that day, wondering if I made the decision too soon, but deep down inside I know the time was right and he was ready to go.

We had Jake cremated and his ashes and photo sit on the bookshelf in our living room. Occasionally I pass by, put my hand on the box and tell him that I miss him.

4 Lori { 09.28.10 at 10:03 am }

We took our Raleigh in for his six month senior check-up last July. We knew that he wasn’t feeling his best; he’d been having some sort of weird cough that I google-diagnosed as what I thought was larynxial paralysis. He was 12-13 years old, and I was feeling like we were going to go in and be faced with the question of to surgery or not to surgery…and at his age, I just didn’t know. We went to the vet, they checked him out, agreed that there was something not right with him, but didn’t feel it was the larynx. After X-rays, it turned out that Raleigh had cancer of the spleen and it had metastasized dramatically. It was aggressive and there really wasn’t going to be much more time. As in, the vet recommended we let him go that afternoon. We were SHOCKED. We couldn’t believe he’d had that much cancer in just a few months and we didn’t even know. Dr. Fitz suggested that sometimes patients go home for the weekend for one last swim or family day, so that’s what we decided to do. Raleigh still seemed to be mostly our Raleigh, so knowing that we were taking him in two days later to go to sleep was hard…I kept second-guessing, but John just knew. Raleigh started to have blood in his stool, but the tell-tale sign was that he wouldn’t eat. I made bacon and eggs and steak and all his favorites all weekend and he just looked at it as if he wanted to eat it but couldn’t. (He was always our food hound!) This broke my heart, but we knew…we took him in on Monday and stayed with him right until he took his last breath.

It is heartbreaking. There’s no way around it. Over a year later, we still can’t change our answering machine because his sweet barks are there!!!

5 Sunny Baine { 12.03.18 at 3:44 am }

I am crying almost uncontrolably realizing it may be time for my Millie Shaye golden rescue dog to crossover to heavn and her brother Eddie , my giant pom rescue will probably go also as he is 13+ also.

6 Pat { 12.03.18 at 2:16 pm }

You will see your girl again

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