Tag Archives: euthanasia

The Purpose of a Dog

This story is found on the internet in a number of places and it seems to be something of an urban myth. But it’s popular because of the sentiment behind it and is always worth sharing.

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.
 
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
 
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
 
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker ‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”
 
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.
 
He said,”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The six-year-old continued,
 
”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY!

The dog in Marieke’s life

News broke this week that Paralympian Marieke Vervoort has carried out her wishes for euthanasia in her home country of Belgium, where euthanasia has been legalized.

Vervoort with Zenn

Passing at the age of only 40, Vervoort won medals at the London 2012 and the Rio de Janeiro games in 2016 in wheelchair racing.

By all accounts, this woman suffered terribly during her life with a form of progressive tetraplegia, losing more function as the days passed.  She was in constant pain and also suffered epileptic seizures.

Marieke also shared her life with a Labrador named Zenn.  Zenn was credited with helping her to carry groceries, bringing her items of clothing, and warning her of impending seizures.

So my thoughts are now with Zenn, who has lost her human companion.

There are many dogs working around the world as assistance and emotional support dogs  and – since they are sentient creatures like us – I’m quite sure that they feel the loss of their loved ones.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Reflections on palliative care

My latest palliative care dog passed away about 2 weeks ago.  While it has been a busy couple of weeks for me, I do think about her.  I sometimes wonder if owners really believe me when I say that I think about their dogs not only when they are active clients but also after they have passed.

This old girl was 17 years old and came with a long file of veterinary records for me to review.   From the outset, I knew I wouldn’t be working with her for very long.   Her owner was very open when booking an appointment with me, “I’m just not ready to say goodbye.”

At the first consult, we talked about expectations, her vet’s advice, and quality of life.  I provided the owner with a quality of life checklist that I’ve developed specifically for older and palliative care dogs.

This old girl had fighting spirit, but she was also frail.  So the focus was on acupoints for immune system strengthening and endorphin release.  The first session went well and the feedback was great – “she’s been her old self….”

Having personal experience with this, I know that sometimes these dogs at the end of life have a final burst of life energy.  It rarely lasts.

We ended up having only one additional session.  Although we re-booked for a third session, it wasn’t to be.

I am grateful to all the people who entrust their dog to me, but especially honored by those who are facing critical and emotional decisions and are not afraid to share their distress.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

A long wait for a new home (hopefully)

Today, I am sponsoring a community fundraiser by showing the award-winning documentary, The Champions. I’m looking forward to sharing the ground-breaking case and the work that has proved that bull breed dogs can be successfully rehabilitated and re-homed.

One of the things that the Vicktory dogs had in common with many dogs seized in enforcement matters is the long wait they endure in isolation kennels – and usually the dogs are destroyed once a conviction is secured.

Such is the case of Stella, a dog that was left in isolation without exercise for two years in the UK awaiting her owner’s day in court.

Stella

Stella the dog death row dog inside her 3ft x 9ft cage at the Foredowne Kennels in Kingskerswell, Devon. Stella was not exercised for two years. Photo courtesy of The Plymouth Herald

Stella’s owner used her to attack police and Stella paid the price by being labelled a dangerous dog.

The police have now given their blessing for Stella to be re-homed, after her previous owner relinquished all rights to her.

And they have defended their need to hold Stella in isolation, saying it’s the system’s fault…“Devon and Cornwall Police has on a number of occasions shared its concerns at the lengthy delay to cases, caused by legislation, the court system and on occasions the unfit owners surrounding the issue of dangerous dogs.”

You can read more about Stella’s case here, in The Herald. And in this previous item which put pressure on officials to address her living conditions.

There’s still much work to be done to ensure that dogs are not collateral damage in cases of cruelty and dangerous owners.

For Stella, at least, there seems to be a happy ending after a long wait.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

In Memory of Denali (a fitting 1000th post)

****Warning****   For anyone who has loved and lost a dog, this video will bring you to tears.  It certainly did for me.  But I couldn’t think of a more fitting 1000th post for this blog – a tribute to the human/dog bond.

This short film is about Denali, photographer/cinematographer Ben Moon’s dog, and their life story together.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Teddy’s journey ends

This is a blog post I didn’t think I would be writing for some years.  Unfortunately, some things are just not meant to be.

Teddy, the Beagle who so bravely came back from a front leg amputation last year, passed away on Saturday.  He was only 8 years old – gone too soon.

TeddyTeddy 10_9_14

Cancer took Teddy’s life away very quickly.  For the last 8 weeks or so, Jill had been saying things like ‘he’s not himself’ ‘he’s tired today’ or ‘he hasn’t been right since we changed his medication.’

We discussed diet, a different mixture of supplements, different medications, and different acupressure sequences…

Some days he seemed like his old self, others not.  Sometimes his liver function tests came back as abnormal, then re-tests would show an improvement after changing his core food.

But late last week, things turned quickly.

Teddy vomited up his breakfast on Tuesday and then stopped eating and drinking.  Another blood test showed highly escalated liver enzymes and Teddy was in trouble.  He was booked initially for an ultrasound on Monday but then he had to go to the vet on Friday for fluids and stayed overnight.  The ultrasound was moved up to Saturday.

And the ultrasound specialist had terrible news.  His report reads “These findings are consistent with metastatic neoplasia (likely sarcoma, adenocarcinoma, or carcinoma).  There is hepatic and splenic involvement (with likely metastases to lymph nodes and lungs).  Unfortunately Teddy’s prognosis is grave.”

Jill took a distressed Teddy home and her regular vet came to give him his final injection.  As Jill said, there was no choice.

When I saw Jill yesterday, she just said that in writing Teddy’s last story, she wanted his story to matter.

I’ve thought really hard about this.  I think everything about Teddy mattered.  He was a Beagle that was just a little too large to win in the show ring (despite winning best baby puppy several times).  Early on, Jill discovered that Teddy was born with bilateral hip dysplasia and she set about keeping him happy and healthy (I came into the picture in 2010 after an unsuccessful attempt at hydrotherapy, because Teddy also had neck problems that were aggravated by swimming).

When I lost Daisy last July, it was Teddy who would come and sit beside me in sympathy.

And then last August’s horrible accident and the amputation which was going to affect Teddy’s mobility as he aged.  And he came through it like a trooper.  When I adopted Izzy (my greyhound), I took her for a visit and a 3-legged Teddy was zooming after her as if nothing had changed.

So, what do Teddy’s last days tell us?

I think they tell us that no matter how well we take care of our dogs, and with our best intentions for seeing them to old age, we really have very little influence when the end comes.  We do our best.  And we have to make the right decisions for our dogs in the face of critical or terminal illness.

I’m glad that Teddy came through his amputation so well and that he and Jill had months together that they wouldn’t have had if she had decided to end his life then.  And I’m glad Teddy didn’t suffer for days and days like people suffering from terminal cancer do.

Teddy is one of those special clients that I will carry in my heart for the remainder of my days.  He was My Favourite Beagle.  Everything about him matters.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Doggy quote of the month for August

“and she looked deep into my eyes
and she said ‘you have always been the center of my universe
I have loved you always’
I pressed my head into hers and assured her that I was here
as I had always been here
and she looked deep into my heart
and she asked me ‘How much do you love me?’
and I stroked her face, soothingly, and closed her eyes as I replied
“With all my heart…’
and then, she looked deep into my soul
and she asked me
‘Do you love me enough to let me go?’
and I held her close and replied softly…
yes…”

–  Unknown

The facts about pit bulls

The facts about pit bullsSource:  National Geographic

Helping pet owners make tough choices

When your dog becomes seriously ill, it’s your job as the owner to make decisions about quality of life.  And it’s one of the toughest decisions we face during our lives.

Researchers at Michigan State University  are developing a new tool to help people assess their pet’s quality of life, a key factor in decisions about when to order life-prolonging procedures and when an animal’s suffering means it’s time to put them to sleep.

The research team, led by veterinarian Maria Iliopoulou, created a survey to help dog owners monitor the quality of life of 29 dogs undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.   The owners completed the questionnaire when they received their dog’s cancer diagnosis and answered questions about how their dog was behaving then and how they behaved six months prior to the diagnosis.

Similar questions were asked in questionnaires administered at three and six weeks into chemotherapy. Meanwhile, the veterinarians treating the dogs filled out shorter surveys based on their observations.   The research team wanted to see if owners and clinicians agreed.

The research found that there was a close match between owners and vets, particularly in questions involving play behaviour, the dog’s happiness as perceived by the owner and clinical signs of disease.  These areas of commonality create the basis for a tool that will help to facilitate client and vet communication.  If there’s agreement about what constitutes quality of life, then it is these criteria that owners and vets should use to help agree on next steps for the dog’s care.

For the study, dog owners completed a questionnaire at the time of diagnosis about how the animal was behaving then and how they typically behaved six months prior. Follow-up questionnaires filled out three and six weeks later documented changes in behavior as the dogs underwent chemo. Meanwhile, the veterinarians filled out shorter surveys based on their observations. – See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/helping-pet-owners-make-tough-choices/#sthash.aUqdUd6n.dpuf

Dr Iliopoulou and her dog Rocky (photo by G L Kohuth)

Dr Iliopoulou and her dog Rocky (photo by G L Kohuth)

The research team has published their results in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  All dogs were patients at the Michigan State University Animal Cancer Care Clinic.  The plan is to expand the work using a much larger sample size of patients and Iliopoulou hopes to develop questionnaires for dogs suffering from other diseases as well.

Source:  Michigan State University media statement

ichigan State University researchers are developing a new tool to help people assess their ailing pets’ quality of life, a key factor in decisions about when to order life-prolonging procedures and when an animal’s suffering means it’s time to let go. – See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/helping-pet-owners-make-tough-choices/#sthash.aUqdUd6n.dpuf
ichigan State University researchers are developing a new tool to help people assess their ailing pets’ quality of life, a key factor in decisions about when to order life-prolonging procedures and when an animal’s suffering means it’s time to let go. – See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/helping-pet-owners-make-tough-choices/#sthash.aUqdUd6n.dpuf

Crossing Eve

Today was a sad day at the Old Friends kennels of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.  When I went to sign in for the afternoon, I was told ‘Old Friends will be closing at 3 today; we’re crossing Eve.’

Crossing, as in the Rainbow Bridge.  Eve was a paraplegic when I met her last year, but she had a spirit about her which said ‘don’t pick me up, I’ll get there by myself thank you.’  And her best friend was Dumpling, the little toothless mixed breed girl that I fell in love with.

Eve, in May 2012

Eve, in May 2012

Eve’s progress and care was documented as part of the Guardian Angels program, which profiles special animals from around the sanctuary and encourages monthly donations.  Caregivers update the Guardian Angel journals on a regular basis.

From a distance, I monitored Eve’s progress through the journal; also hoping to catch a glimpse of Dumpling, which I did through this wonderful video:

Through Eve’s journal, I read about the donation of her mobility cart and options to keep it from chafing.  When Dumpling got adopted in December 2012, I read about Eve’s grief at the loss of her friend and the efforts of caregivers to find her suitable companionship.  And in March of this year, Eve exited the Guardian Angel program to give way to another special needs dog.

So when I arrived here last week, seeing Eve and other remaining Old Friends was a top priority.  It is a comfort to know that I was here at Old Friends today to say goodbye to her.

Eve today, before crossing

Eve today, before crossing

A painting of Eve hangs in the foyer of her kennels at Old Friends

A painting of Eve hangs in the foyer of her kennels at Old Friends

A final Guardian Angel entry is now live on the Best Friends website to mark Eve’s crossing.  Read it here and perhaps go back in time to read more about this very special, special needs dog.

Eve will be laid to rest at Angels Overlook, the cemetery for sanctuary animals.

Eve's mobility cart and stroller, which were used in happier days

Eve’s mobility cart and stroller, which were used in happier days