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Put Your Dog Down or Die On Its Own-You Might Think Different After Reading This

If you have a dog or have ever had a dog you've probably been faced with having to decide when the right time was or is to put your dog to sleep.

It's the hardest part for sure of having a dog, or any pet for that matter.

I recently lost my sweet 13-year-old Shih Tzu, Macie, (in the photos) after a 2 year battle with diabetes and Cushings which caused her to go blind and deaf.  On top of that, she lost a lot of hair, was covered in skin tags and all four paws pretty much pointed in different directions.

As I watched Macie fight her conditions every single day I often found myself wondering why most dogs don't just die when they are ready.  Why is it we always have to make the decision to end their life?

As I pondered these thoughts, knowing the day would come when I would have to make that decision about Macie, I sometimes hoped it would just happen when it was time and I wouldn't have to decide her final fate. 

I've only had to put one of my own dogs down but growing up did experience that decision-making process my parents tormented over for a handful of dogs (at least 5).  We've never had a dog that has died on its own and honestly I haven't heard of too many people who have.

Macie was such a fighter, many days I forget how ill she really was.  She just muddled a long and got around surprisingly well considering all of her disabilities.  I work from home so was able to be home with her often.  She mostly just followed me around and like to settle in my office while I worked.

(In both photos she was well into her diseases and already blind but you can see in the second photo she was also still very much functioning and not ready to go)

In the middle of August I left for Baton Rouge to drop our youngest daughter off at LSU to start her college life.  Macie was left alone with my other daughter coming by twice a day to spend a little time with her and feed her and give her all of her medicine.  This wasn't new to Macie so I didn't think much of it.

I was back for 4 days and had to leave again to meet up with a little girl who I love dearly who was moving all the way across the country.  It was my second goodbye for the month that I wasn't looking forward to.  I was going to be gone about 5 days.

The second day I was in Arizona my husband called to tell me Macie was lying by the foot of the stairs and wasn't moving.  I got hysterical and told him to try to pick her up.  He said, she still didn't move.  I told him to take her immediately to the vet.

I called my vet hysterical still to let them know Peter was on his way with Macie.  I hoped maybe she was still alive and perhaps was just passed out.  In my heart though I knew that probably wasn't the case. I could hardly talk when I was trying to explain the situation.

About 30 minutes later I got a call from my vet, who is also a friend of mine, and she gently let me know that Macie had passed.  I struggled to catch my breath and tried to ask her if she could tell if she went slow or fast.  I couldn't bear the thought of her suffering all alone. 

My vet told me she thought Macie had a stroke or a heart attack and most likely went quickly.  Still, I couldn't shake the guilt or sadness that she was alone.  All the time I spent at home and she had to die all alone.

For the next few days I couldn't stop wondering if she suffered, how long it took, was she afraid, did she know what was happening along with other thoughts that would keep me in a state of sadness. 

I don't know that I will ever not wonder those things or that I will ever fully forgive myself for letting her be alone to die.

I obviously couldn't be with her 24/7 for over 2 years.  That's not reality but that doesn't make this any easier for me.

So, this was the first time I've had a dog die on their own and now I know what that feels like.  For me, now having experienced this, I can honestly say that I would rather be faced with the decision of putting my dog down and being able to be there when it happens to hold them and to tell them they are going to a better place.  I would want to be there to let them know they are not alone and they don't have to be afraid.  

I know it's easy to think, "why can't I just come home and they're gone and I don't have to make the decision to put them to sleep".  Anyone with a sick or aging dog has probably thought this even if just a fleeting thought.

Everyone is different, but I hope to never have another dog die on its own, ever again.  

If you are wondering why I wrote this post, perhaps it was just a little therapeutic for me, even though it was hard to write.  Or perhaps I wanted to give others a real life perspective of what it's like to have your dog die on their own. Or maybe, both.

Macie when she was a puppy.

To Macie...I am sorry I wasn't there for you in your final moments.  I loved you and I still love you and I will always love you. I pray that you are in a better place, free of pain and able to see and hear again. I pray that you crossed the Rainbow Bridge and are running with all of your dog friends. I hope I see you again and that you can forgive me. I love you Macie.  

Feel free to leave a comment below or share your own story but please don't be negative about her being alone.  I already have to live with that and eventually will try to forgive myself but it won't be easy.  


9 comments

  • My son left for the Air Force five years ago. He left behind his beloved lab, Annie. She doesn’t understand where he has gone. All day she lays in her crate. The door is open but her arthritis is bad. Lately she is having a difficult time breathing. It’s hard for her to walk outside to go potty. She’s lived well beyond her life expectancy. I think it’s time.

    Deborah
  • Macie is waiting for you, and will be there when you crossover. I had to put my 14 year old Midgie down, after she had a stroke. She took her first and last breath, in my arms. Please, you are forgiven. You loved her, unconditionally, even with her health issues. She loves you still, and hung around longer than most could. Don’t feel bad about the way she left you. She knew how hard it would be for you, and she waited until she was sure that you weren’t around to see her like that. She simply laid down at the bottom of the stairs, and drifted off. See you soon?she thought, as she was running towards Rainbow Bridge, pain free, knowing how much she was loved. They are only here for such a short time, but they teach us so much. ?

    Cyndi Dobrenich
  • In January I spent the last days with my dog Mack he was 12 years old and gotten cancer he did well for the first few months he did ok but the last few days were hard on him and us. We felt bad about his health wondering how much he must hurt and all, we talked about taking him in and putting him down the next morning which was a Monday. We all loved on him held him and talked to him the whole day and night that night as we were going to bed I picked him up and I layed him down on my bed for the last cuddle time I knew I would ever have with him, as he laid there I was petting him telling him how much I loved him and that it was ok for him to go. There he took his last breath and gave us the closure we needed he went when it was his time not me picking the time for him he went in his home with his people when he was done.

    Lucas Gonzalez
  • My heart goes out to you, Heidi.

    Linda L Moore
  • Our Mr Chance was 14 when he passed away he was fine and then he spiraled down in less than a day we had to put down We did not take a vacation for the last four years of his life because we felt he was too old to be left at the kennel we used he was only alone when both of us had to work and even then I came home at lunch Would not have done it any other way

    Janet

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