Downeast Dog News


The Last Chapter
By | Feb 01, 2017
Photo by: Diana Logan Dory, loving to ride.
She is gone. Our soul dog, our dream girl, our trusting, loving, easy-going dog who touched so many lives in her long life, is gone. Our hearts ache. It seemed we should have been able to keep her going fueled by our love alone. She lived and lived and lived, and lived well. She thrived long past the age which one would normally expect of a Standard Poodle. Sweet Sixteen was just around the bend, but it proved too long a journey for her.

“Dogs go through stages just like we do, developmental stages. From birth, to puppy, to scampy adolescent, growing into a young adult, a full adult, and then senior before you know it, slipping into geriatric, then the hospice stage, and then actively dying and onto death. The complete circle. A soul.” []

Dory had (mostly) rebounded from just about everything that came her way, but we knew her bank account for recovery was severely depleted and eventually there would be nothing left from which to draw. In early December, her old health issues and a few new ones all converged. We had a roller coaster ride of good days and bad,  but after a few weeks of this, one month shy of her 16th birthday, we knew it was time to say good-bye when she took a dramatic turn for the worse. The final weight tipping her towards her ultimate death was a high fever which took everything out of her. Euthanasia was peaceful, full of dignity and relief, and absolutely heartbreaking all at the same time. As my husband Drew would say after she was gone, "It's like a Dory movie is playing non-stop in my mind and I cannot turn it off."

Hospice Care
When we have an elderly or terminally ill dog, everything revolves around that dog. When our pets are in need of special care, we do everything in our power to help them. When mobility is an issue, we become hyper-vigilant, ready to come to their aid to help them move from Point A to Point B even if it’s just to go from sitting to lying down. We offer them anything that brings them joy, continually trying to balance the scales towards the side of happy and fulfilled. Comfortable. Pain-free. We look for signs of good health, even the most minute signs that might indicate things are okay. Fetching, engaging in training games, tail wagging, rolling.. anything.

How does one know when the scales have tipped towards the other side, never to right themselves again? How does one know when it’s time to humanely send our beloved pet across the “rainbow bridge?” There are no clear answers to these questions, unfortunately.

Dr. Katie Hilst has put together a helpful “quality of life” scale which can be found on her website I highly recommend that you check it out if you have an elderly or sick pet. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to think that we will definitively, intuitively know when the right time has come to make the ultimate decision, but it’s not always that way. I have spoken to many people who regretted waiting too long, doing too much, and prolonging the inevitable. Having this guide to refer to can be helpful.

Nearly a month has passed since we lost Dory. Once she was gone, we were hit by the enormity not only of her loss and of her absence but also of how much effort had gone into taking care of her. This isn’t something we are truly cognizant of until the need is no longer there. The extent of our efforts reflected the extent of her decline.

We want to extend a huge thank you to those who reached out to offer condolences; knowing so many people understand brings us much comfort.

Sending love and peace to you and your dogs. Live well.