Tuesday, January 11, 2011

LET'S TALK SLEEP

Since everyone is already leaky about Stubby, I'm thinking now might be a good time to talk about something nobody wants to think about: saying goodbye when it's time to go to sleep forever.

In the weeks before Stubby went to sleep, his human and my human did a lot of talking. I didn't hear or understand all of it, but I want to share what I do know. Because even though my human says we're all going to live forever, I know she's totally lying.

KNOW WHEN TO SAY WHEN
One thing I heard our humans talk about was how to know when it
's time for the final sleep to come. From what I understand, this is a very hard and complicated decision. You don't want to wait too long, but even too long doesn't feel long enough when you don't want to say goodbye. My human used to work in vet hospitals and says the only thing sadder than seeing someone go to sleep was seeing someone who needed to go to sleep *not* go sleep soon enough. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I think it's really important.

SOMETIMES SLEEP IS A GOOD THING
I heard my human tell Stubby's mom a story about her old dog, Moby. Moby was 11 when they found out she had cancer in her bones. The vet said she had 2 weeks to live unless they took away one of her legs to make it better (maybe, for a little while). My human wanted Moby to be around forever, but dogs like Moby only live 10-12 years and she was already almost 12. So my human decided to not to fight the cancer and let Moby have 11+ happy years instead of 11+ happy ones... plus a great big surgery and who knows what else and for h
ow long.

MAKE THE END THE BEST END EVER
Instead of arguing with the stupid bone cancer, my human decided to make the last 2 weeks of Moby's life the best 2 weeks of her life. She got to eat everything and anything she wanted. Ice cream, hamburgers, people cookies - you name it, she ate it. She was allowed to chase the cat and snack on the forbidden kitty rocca. She got went for illegal off-leash walks on nice golf course grass and played with loads of toys from people who came to visit and say goodbye.

SAYING GOODBYE
You might not have any warning before it's time for sleep to come, but if you do have time to get ready for it, get ready for it. After exactly 2 weeks, Moby was ready to go to sleep. My human had the vet come to the house so Moby's last memory wouldn't be of a trip to the vet (even though she was one of those weird dogs who loved going to the vet). The vet helped her go to sleep in her own bed filled with toys. When Moby didn't wake up, the vet took her away and turned her into ashes (please don't ask me how that works).

Moby, a few days before going to sleep forever.

REMEMBERING
My human says Moby is gone, but will never be forgotten. It's been 8 years since Moby went to sleep, but my human still has her old dogtags and little bits of Moby ashes (the rest are sprinkled all over the country, in places she's lived and places Moby used to visit). She has pictures of Moby
(even though they're not that great and she wishes there were more) and 11+ years of really good memories.

I hope some of what I learned about the Final sleep helps someone out there. If you know something that might help some more, please let everyone here know.

40 comments:

Sara in Oregon said...

Dear Puglet,
I'm very sad that Stubby died. Hopefully, you and Willie, my dog, will have a peaceful "go to sleep."
Have a good day,
Sara

Barbara said...

Oh man, leaky eyes again.

Humans HAVE to know that pets know when it's time to go to sleep. We have to let them go no matter how awful it hurts. That's our last act of true love to them.

The Mama Monster said...

I am just getting ready to go to my Relay for Life Meeting and decided to catch up on some blogs. I think it's interesting that this is one of the ones that I chose. Relay for Life if you aren't aware is through the American Cancer Society.... Pretty much everyone there relay's for someone (human) that they love dearly that has passed or dealt with cancer. I relay for my two boxers who were taken way to early from the dreaded C word!!! Havok has been gone about 4 years now and I still don't go a single day without thinking about his retarded face!!!! I am so sorry about Moby!!! I am so glad that you understand how not to drag out their lives for yourself like so many do. <3

The Mama Monster

Southern Fried Pugs said...

It is so hard to make that decision, but that's what humans have to do most of the time. Our mom did not make that decision for her previous dog and regrets it. She promised to be better about us, when it's our times.
But it's never easy, even when you know it's the right thing to do and the best decision for your dog. You wish so hard that they would just go to sleep on their own, but sometimes that's just not possible.
But thank you for bringing this up. It's a talk that everybody should have.

Noodle said...

Noodle's mom here:

I agree whole-heartedly with your human about not waiting too long. I also worked in a couple of vet hospitals and it was always heart-wrenching to see an animal suffer. I empathize with those owners and I would never presume to know when the right time for someone else is, but at some point you owe it to your pets to ask yourself who you're prolonging the inevitable for.
Another thing to keep in mind is how one pet sleeping affects other pets in the house. We had an emergency with our Rottie-mix, Otis (looked a lot like Moby!), when he was 10. We came home to find that he's somehow broken one of his hind legs. (Turns out he had pretty severe bone cancer too. That coupled with his chronic and severe hip dysplasia meant a future with no real quality of life.) We hurried out the door to the emergency vet, but when we came home, Otis wasn't with us. Our cat, Jake, had known Otis his whole life and all of a sudden Otis was missing. Jake was off his food and "not normal" for over a month. Later that year, our pug, Mushu, died suddenly in our dining room. Jake was with him. Though Mu and Jake only knew each other about 6 months, they had become very close friends and playmates. However, this time, Jake's mourning period was much shorter. He knew what had happened and had come to terms with it.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, I have the opportunity and it's appropriate, I would include ALL the family members for the final goodbye. Fortunately, more vets are coming to the home now so our beloved pets can be comforted and surrounded by those people and things they love.
This is always a difficult subject and knowing when to help our beloveds cross the bridge is a deeply personal decision. I think the best we can do is remember that our pets trust us to do what's best for them. Sometimes "what's best for them" turns out to be the most painful experiences for us.
Hang in there little pug. Your heart will heal.

Laurie A Kirkpatrick said...

We were so sorry to hear about Stubby, but happy that he is at last pain free at the Bridge. My mom tells us it is the last gift she can give us, to let us go before we suffer.
Gracie the agility pug

Jennifer said...

Tears again. Wish our pups could live forever :-)

pugtails.net said...

Thank you.
Thank you for talking about a topic that is so painful for our humans to even think about.
My mum would like to add one more thing to your list - Allow yourself to grieve.
Society as a whole still looks at pets as mere animals of often scoffs at grieving over their loss. No job my mum has ever held would ever give bereavement leave over the loss of a pet.
A family member, whether they have 2 feet or 4, is still a family member. When it is time to say goodbye, a grieving process will follow. Allowing yourself to grieve is an important step towards healing.

Hugs,
Sabrina

fatpug said...

Thanks for this post. It is one of the most avoided topics around our house, yet my buddy Coco just turned 13. She is still relatively healthy for an old grandma, but we all know the clock is ticking. Hopefully, Coco will give us a heads up when the time comes-- but with that be said.. I am glad you took the time to share this post!

Pearl said...

Puglet, thanks so much for this post. Losing our Stubby has made all of us slow down and ponder these things and I really appreciate your insights. I am missing Stubby so much. I know you are, too...

xoxo Pearl

Tweedles -- that's me said...

the kindest gift that can be given,
Sweet dreams my friend Stubby
until we meet again
love
tweedles

Max the Jack Russell said...

I feel your pain Puglet. My best friend Lulu, a black pug passed away in February of last year. It was very hard for my humans. She lived 12 long years of happiness.

Max

Buford T. Justice said...

Dear Puglet and all,

Our human wants to thank you from the very deepest part of her heart for talking about this. We are a house of 5 Pugs, 3 over the age of 10. Our oldest sisfer Peg, we guestimate to be somewhere around 14. Our human refers to herself as a Foster Momma failure as the 3 old ladies all arrived as fosters but the humans fell in love. They don't regret a single decision and have plans to help many more senior Pugs when the time is right. For now the humans have had many discussions about the sleep and have agreed that they will do what's best for us Pugs. The momma works with dogs for her job (if you can call it that, she says it doesn't feel like a job when you love it this much) and sees a lot of dogs not get to go to sleep. We have to remember that we LOVE them and we MUST do what's right for THEM...... If we decide to go through with a treatment is it going to give them quality? Miss Peg has been with us since December 8, 2008 and she will be with us as long as she is meant to but she will leave us with all the dignity and grace that she came to us with. She will not be kept awake because we need her around. She will get to go to sleep when she is ready and we feel that might be sooner than later. We have been blessed with her love and companionship and we will repay her by letting her go to sleep.

Stubby, you will be missed but you will never be forgotten. Love to your humans for giving you the gift of sleep. We send hugs their way.

Buford T. Justice, Bambi, Peggy, Per-Li-Mae and Miss Lacy

Anonymous said...

Puglet, thanks for talking about this, I almost wrote this yesterday. I have been lucky to have many, many recycled dogs in my lifetime, they have brought much joy in my life. The saddest part, is many are already older when you get them, so the time you have with them is even shorter.

One of the greatest was a little terrier, who after having a siezere, was diagnosed with Liver cancer and given a day or two to live. I brought her home (mainly so we could wait for my friend to get home to say goodbye), took her thru a drive thru (her absolute favorite thing in the world) and then to the park. When my roomate came home, we took her to the vets and she went to sleep. I was fortunate to have those few extra hours with her, but she was medicated so she didn't suffer. Most of my animals I feel have gone at the right time for them, no suffering, long enough to enjoy life.

Its so hard when someone goes to sleep, but you know they are not suffering anymore.

Our thoughts are with Stubby's parents.

Kris, Pearl and Tessa

House-O-Pugs said...

Our Pugsly is 15 years old, Uff-Da is 4 1/2 years old. We know that Pugsly is slowing down and won't live forever so we wanted to get Uff-Da some new Pug siblings before he passed away. In August we adopted 2 pup puppies. Pugsly is a wonderful "Mr Mom" and has now raised 3 boys. If it gets to the point where we have to make the difficult decision for him to go to sleep, we will do it out of love for him. I have also promised my husband that I will put Pugsly's ashes in his coffin when my husband passes away.

Wendy

chubbypug said...

Oh Puglet...my human has leaky eyes too, like major leakage! She goes to work everyday to help other humans and their pets at the vet hospital. She's way too familiar with the whole sleeping forever thing. I know it makes her sad so me and my siblings are gonna try to live as long as we can.

pugsmom said...

Whoa,
There's a lot of love and emotion on this blog today. I have to admit I'm crying and remembering my own precious friends that have gone on to the Rainbow Bridge. Puglet, thank you for letting people and pugs and other animals open up and talk about their love for their pets. You are a wise little puggie. We love you.
Phoebe's mom in Oregon

Misiober said...

I'm crying right now, in fakt I'm crying every time when I'm thinking about "saying goodbye" day :( I cannot imagine this. After reading The Dog Year book I finally understood, that is all about my dog friend and not about me, but your Human's idea about changing the last day of the best days is just GREAT (if word great can be used in this situation). Thank you Puglet Human..

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that you are addressing this most difficult of subjects.

My last pair of pugs died at ages 12 and 13 respectively. Lance, who had been suffering from arthritis, got very sick very fast and died at the vet's overnight. I was heartbroken - it was at least a month before I did not cry every single day. Lady went about a year later - she had congestive heart disease and was clearly failing. Out vet refused to put her to sleep! We went to another vet, and we stayed with her as she peacefully slipped away. Somewhat strangely, I took her death much better than Lance's, because it was so clearly the right thing to do for someone I loved so much.

Anonymous said...

Puglet,
Thank you for talking about this issue. My human is currently leaking really bad while reading all the comments. My human wants to admit to you that she is very scared about me going to sleep forever. I am her very first animal and she is LOVES me alot. I just turned 9 and I have had a Mass cell tumor removed from my leg a few years ago. I had chemo and am doing fine but she knows there will be a time when she has to say goodbye to me. This has helped her realize that its ok to say goodbye me.

Thank you for listening!
Trunks mom from Florida

pugsx4 said...

Dear Puglet, We had to send our first pug Romeo in 2008 because of a tumor in his tummy. He was 13 years old. We knew it was time when he started refusing food. When we were at the vet's and it was time he turned and stared right into my eyes as if to say goodbye and he would always be with us. to this day none of the other pugs sleep in "his spot" in the bed.

Edward the pug said...

Oh Puglet. You have my human leaking AGAIN. This whole sleeping thing is new for me, since my human says that we'll live forever too. But I guess, if it were up to me, sleeping forever isn't THAT bad...
You are one awesome dude Puglet. Thanks for being that way!

Ellie, Bogie and Gertie said...

Excellent post, Puglet. Stubby was so lucky to have such a loving mom. Bogie and Gertie were rescued as a result of losing Ellie's littermate, Clara, last December. She was the light of the house, but something was wrong and it came on fast. I didn't want to face that whatever was wrong (brain tumor, most likely), was making her last days pain-filled and scary.

My regret was not being with her when she suffered a heart attack, in a cage at night at the vet's, completely alone. It haunts me to this day, and stands as a reminder to plan ahead.

I can only offer as a lesson that if something doesn't seem right with your pet, go to more than one vet - quickly. I wish I could've known the severity, and asked the vet to come help her go to sleep :(

One very sweet thing the caring staff at the vet's office did was donate for an online memorial to Clara, the proceeds of which go to a veterinary school.

ILoveLucy said...

Puglet,

Thank you so much for talking about this subject. Though it made me and my mommy's eyes leak; a lot; discussing it also made us feel better.

Anonymous said...

My pug Daisy is ten. I have learned instead of waiting for her to die, I am living with her, every day. Fear of going to sleep is not healthy. Treasure each day for what it is and when the time comes I know Daisy will tell me.

Dawnelle said...

Puglet,
I believe Stubby passed his wiseness and generosity on to you. You may never know how many humans you helped and comforted with your beautifully worded thoughts. Pugsley's mom thanks you -- for all the smiles, laughs and EVEN tears you give her. xoxo

Kimmy B said...

I might mispell a few words coz' I'm leaking and trying to type as my forever mom is in a fetal position under the chair. She is just so sad reading about all the love and loss. Tomorrow will be 2 years since her beloved (and favorite) pug Wormie went to live where Stubby lives now. I guess she had a bad eye injury, then surgery,... then the monsters in her head got really really scary and loud. On Wormie's last day she put a whole bunch of soft blankets in our red wagon and just walked her around the neighboorhood while the sun warmed her little body. I would have gone too but I lived somewhere else then. My forever mom won't tell me what she whispered to Wormie on that walk. I want to look into the little box that sits in my forever mom's room to see Wormie but mom says..no. That is one of 3 little boxes she keeps in a very special place. My other two sisters, Hannah and Lucy have their own box too. Someday I will get my own box with my name and special dates on it but I hope it's not soon. My forever mom and dad said they knew it was time when the monsters didn't listen to the little pills Wormie had to take. so they drove a really long way and she didn't have one seizure the whole trip but she just stared into my forever mom's eyes. Wormie trusted them completely. They held her little paw when they said 'good night my sweet Worm'. All I know is when they say good night to me and my brothers now, they don't hold our paws so I guess that means we get to make them laugh and happy for a while longer. God Bless Stubby and all the happiness he spread around him. Extra pug prayers for his family. Love, Tink, Beans and Mick

Noodles said...

Hi Puglet,
You are so SAGE. My Mommy #2 completely agrees with everything you said. Although it breaks her heart to think of a day when I won't come bounding up to greet her when she comes home from work, she knows it is far better to let me go to sleep when it is my time rather than prolong a life that has become unbearable or hard. Her first dog, a crazy Irish Setter named Shillelagh, lived to be 13 years old. That's VERY old in Irish Setter terms. In her last years, she developed severe arthritis in her rear legs. She had so much trouble standing up and walking outside to do her bidness. And playing was totally out. One day she simply could not stand at all, not even with help. It was her time. Even to this day my human gets a little leaky when she is near Shillelagh's favorite spot in the den. AND this happened a hundred million zillion years ago (okay, it was 20 years ago). But in her heart, Mommy #2 has wonderful memories of all the adventures she and Shillelagh went on together and those make her smile again.

Ollie said...

Losing someone you really love is the second hardest thing in the world. The hardest thing in the world, is to be selfless and not selfish when it's time to let them go. It seems so simple and yet it requires a tremendous amount of courage and strength to do so. Your human and Stubby's, are wonderful examples of how brave and kind you have to be in those moments in life when you're most tested.
My human's dog before me, Benji, a cocker spaniel/poodle mix lived to be 18 before she had to say goodbye. She has his ashes and a locket of fur she snipped on his last day. It's tied with a ribbon and kept in a little silver box. And there are a couple pictures of in lovely antique frames that she bought just for those favorite photos. For years she kept those pictures in a drawer because it hurt too much to look at them. But now they sit where she can see them every day and remind her, of how lucky she was to have had such a great friend.

Skippitydodaday said...

Awe Puglet, so sorry to hear about your friend Stubby. I don't know anything about this forever sleep stuff but my sister Mae told me about Lucky, who was her big brother. I guess I remind my human of him a lot in my personality and looks although supposedly I am a much smaller version. Mae says not really that there is no resemblance & no one could replace her big brother!

Lucky, a Border Collie/Springer Spaniel mix was over 14 years old, I guess he had bad hip dysplasia. My human sometimes doubts herself wondering if he was just having a bad day that morning. She had to carry him downstairs that morning and when he couldn't stay standing to go potty she knew it was the right time.

Lucky was my human's son's dog (Mae gets all squiggley when her son comes over it is so silly). They were all with Lucky while he just laid his head down and went to sleep peacefully, he was ready. It was the hardest decision to make and since we are all going to live forever she won't ever have to make it again.

Sabrina said...

Thanks for writing this post on such an important topic that nobody likes to talk about. One of the best things I heard about deciding when your pet needs to sleep was from a trainer who had a dog that had had a long illness. She said that its normal to have some doubt about when to let your pet sleep--if you wait until you have no doubt, you probably waited too long.

I hope I have many years until Beulah and Barney and Marble sleep, but I'll remember you good advice.

My sincere condolences to Stubby's humans--how lucky he was to have them!

Sue VDB said...

I had to have my 19 year old cat put to sleep January 3. I knew she didn't have much time, but it still came on quite suddenly, and when I knew it was time it was on a Sunday...no vet office open. First thing that Monday morning Jassy went to sleep forever. I have had to do this many times in the past 48 years, and it is never easy. In some ways with Jassy it was a little harder because for all those years she was a part of the household, even as other babies went to sleep. RIP Stubby.

Pugs2Luv said...

My heart is heavy these days...it has been a year this month since my sweet Yoda went to sleep and now dear Stubby. When we met on Stubby's World tour this summer; Stubby's complete devotion to his mom and dad reminded me so much of Yoda, it felt like Yoda was still here. It was such a joy to meet such a wonderfully, exceptional pug and his equally remarkable parents. Stubby has a light that can never be extinguished and can still be felt all the way from the bridge. I admire Stubby's parents courage and love for him.
The wound of losing Yoda still feels fresh in my heart and some days are harder than others. On the hard days, I stay especially close to my 2 pugs, Zoey & Phoebe and read the messages of support so many of you sent. There are a lot of people who do not understand how losing a "pet" can be so painful...this can make you feel so alone. It's communities like this one that are such a great comfort. We lost Yoda quite suddenly and early in his life. He had pneumonia and we fought it for a month before it became too much for him. I often second guess the decisions I made for Yoda while he was ill. When it became obvious that there was nothing more they could do for him at the hospital, I decided to bring him home to be in his bed and to be close to Zoey, Phoebe & I. The three of us were there when he went to sleep. It has been a long, hard road but we are adjusting. I worry about my girls and if I'm doing everything to make them healthy, happy pugs. They enrich my life so much that I feel like I can not do enough for them or that I did not do enough for Yoda. I dread the days that I have to say goodbye to my girls but I know it is inevitable. When the time comes I pray to have the wisdom, courage and compassion to give Zoey and Phoebe a peaceful, respectful journey to the Rainbow Bridge. Rest in peace Stubby, tell Yoda he's still in our hearts everyday.
Zoey and Phoebe's human

AllyB said...

I really, really love you Puglet.

Meredith LeBlanc said...

Thanks for talking about this Puglet.

This is a hard subject for us humans to talk about, never mind carry out. In April after 14 wonderful years, my dear sweet Nicki went to sleep forever. We were on pins and needles waiting for Nicki to tell us when she was ready for the Rainbow Bridge. When the time came she told us loud and clear, she just wasn't having fun anymore.

After she ascended I know she paw picked Scarlet, our recycled Pug, to come home to us and to have as wonderful a life as she did.

Everyday we are grateful to have such a great love in our home just as you give your human.

Be well oh great wise Puglet ♥
Meredith, Mike, & Scarlet

N said...

I am preparing to say goodbye to my family dog who is dying from kidney failure. He will pass within the next day or so, here at home. What a timely post which is a bit of comfort. Hope him and stubby find each other and have great fun eating bacon and chicken together. Rip beautiful doggies.

Vivian said...

We are facing this very decision for Bucky, our beloved puglet of 15 years. There is never a good time, but it's so hard to know when it's the right time.

Angry Butterfly said...

Dear Puglet,
I too, want to thank you for talking about such a difficult subject. I had to make the decision to give my pug Duke the big sleep over 10 years ago, and reading this it still feels like yesterday. I was one of the humans who waited too long and wish I could have let Duke go with more dignity. The vets told me he wasn't in pain, but he couldn't walk or play or even go potty on his own for a long time. I think he was hanging on just for me because he knew how hard it was going to be on me to loose him.

I also agree with the human who said it's important to give yourself time to grieve. I got my new pug too soon and didn't really get to enjoy my new puppy because I was so sad. Dave is a great dog, but I still miss Duke and all of our adventures together. Dave is 10 now but I still think of him as "my new puppy" The vet says that Dave is the healthiest 10 year old pug he's ever seen. I wish I knew what I did right with him.

I think that you have helped a lot of humans and a lot of dogs by talking about this today.

Thank you Puglet.

Anonymous said...

hi my names jacob
i got my mommy to use her thumbs for me i just want to tell you puglet i know how it feels to lose a friend close to u today brother pepsi died from poisening he was only 5 years old i miss him soo much and would like to tell everyone how much brother pepsi means to me he is the best brother and son a dog and human could ask for

citydog said...

Thanks for talking about it, dear Puglet.