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Current Replies for Dog dying of cancer
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7/2/2008 7:01:58 AM
Posts: 5
The x-rays came back and our 13 year old Beagle is in fact dying of cancer. It's widely spread and she's been given less then a month to live. We were given some medication to ease her breathing and told to take her home and make her as comfortable as possible. She's not eating much as the cancer has pushed her stomach off to the side of her body. We were told to spend some time with her and then consider having her euthenized so she doesn't suffer. In the meantime, what can we do to make her as comfortable as possible? She'll only eat lunch meat at this point... it's not the best but at this point it really doesn't matter. We're just trying to get food in her. Any suggestions?
7/2/2008 12:23:24 PM
Posts: 1904
Having just lost an elderly dog to cancer, i know it honestly does not matter what they eat. It will not change anything, so let them eat whatever they darn well want to

I would scramble eggs, with kraft cheeze slices. I made satin balls, i bought jars of baby food (chicken and lamb)and any other delicacy i thought might pique their interest in food. IF they wanted food off my plate....they got it. I let them lick my plate.

Yogurt, ice cream, gravy and peas......anything they wanted.

Serena Galloway
IGCA rescue Colorado

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7/3/2008 7:59:31 AM
Posts: 5
If you don't mind me asking, did your dog go on his or her own or did you have to go the euthinization route? We're trying to figure out how we'll know when it's time. We don't want her to suffer at all if possible.
7/3/2008 9:34:20 AM
Posts: 75
I just wanted to offer my sympathies and tell you I'm sorry for your upcoming loss. It must be the hardest part of having a furry companion...saying goodbye is never easy.
7/3/2008 1:45:53 PM
Posts: 1904
I knew back in Dec that my elderly Coco had mast cell cancer. I was told then that at most she would have 6 weeks. We did no radiation or chemo. We just put her on Prednisone and monitored her. We made everything in life easy and convenient for her, so that NO energy was wasted.

For 3 months i agonized over her. Hardly a day went by that i did not out and out cry over her upcoming departure from my life. I researched for websites to help me overcome the feelings of loss i was already feeling, but found nothing to help. Everyone says, they tell you when its time and you will know. They are right. But sometimes you need a concret basis to base that feeling on.

I made a list of at least 3 things that Coco enjoyed doing, and 3 things i knew she would hate if it happened. She ate well, she drank well, and she did everything a 15 year old bent broken down old rescue dog would do....just a little slower and a little more tottery. When i KNEW it was time, was when i found her laying in a pool of her own urine. She no longer had the ability to control her bladder, and i knew how distressing she found it to be near her own messes. She had no idea she was leaking urine, but i knew how upset she was as she could not get away from it.

That was when it was time. Yes, she could still walk, eat, drink, and she wagged her tail, but i KNEW she was not feeling well. it was obvious as she laid there for hours unwilling to move.

So, we spent a day together and then we helped her over the bridge. We took her to the crematorium, as i would not allow them to put her in a freezer until pick up. As harsh as it sounds, i was relieved when she passed. Her engraving reads "Her pain is ended, and mine has begun".

Serena Galloway
IGCA rescue Colorado

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7/3/2008 5:48:51 PM
Posts: 75
Not to threadjack, but this article was just in our local paper about a service offered for the first time in our small borough.
I like the idea of having a grief counselor available. It probably seems silly to those that aren't "dog people" but makes perfect sense to me.

Dealing with death: handling beloved pets


Published: July 1st, 2008 10:42 PM
Last Modified: July 1st, 2008 02:55 AM

PALMER -- "OK, guys," Lisa Espey murmered to the cats and dogs curled inside plastic bags as she crouched inside the cremator, gently positioning the still forms.

A low wall of fire-resistant bricks surrounded each body -- an extra measure some crematoriums use to keep remains separate and make sure owners get ashes from their pet and no others.

"I just feel a lot better if they've got a divider," said Espey, still inside what resembled a long pizza oven. "I wanted to do something to make it absolutely clear."

Espey, formerly the Matanuska-Susitna Borough veterinarian, brings a combination of empathy and close attention to detail to the first privately operated animal crematorium in the Mat-Su and one of just a few in Southcentral. Passages Pet Cremation and Grief Center opened in February.

Before that, pet owners and veterinarians relied on two Anchorage animal crematories. Vets in the Mat-Su say they were satisfied with Harthaven Pet Cremation Services and Pet Emergency Treatment Cremations, but the distance meant longer waits for pet owners to get ashes back.

"I've known Lisa a long time. I just trust her implicitly," said veterinarian Susan Wagnon, owner of Ravenwood Veterinary Clinic in Eagle River, a Passages client. "Even though the animal's passed away, and it's a body and can't feel, even loading and unloading, she'll treat them respectfully."

Cremating animals can be a tricky, emotionally charged process. With little oversight, operators sometimes take advantage of their situation. Stories have emerged in the Lower 48 of pet cremators dumping bodies instead of burning them, or turning remains into fertilizer.

Espey cremated a goldfish for Wagnon's son, and even apologized for the "tiny bit" of remains that emerged, said the Eagle River vet.

"Nicholas got back his little goldfish," she said. "He slept with that tiny metal container for a week."


Thirteen little urns line shelves and tables in the Wasilla home of Pat Tiedy, a Siberian Husky breeder.

The latest belongs to Micah, one of Espey's first clients in February. Tiedy rubbed Micah's ears as he died, probably of a stroke.

Then she brought him into North Star Animal Hospital in Palmer, where Espey happened to be making rounds.

"Our other dogs had gone to Anchorage, so it was kind of nice to not have him leave the area," she said.

A friend in California had a much less satisfying experience with a beloved dog: The remains accidentally ended up in the trash.

"They were unable to get anything back except, 'I'm sorry,' " Tiedy said. "I'm a little fussy when it comes to my dogs and being cremated."

Fussy is Espey's specialty.

The self-described detail nut -- "it's an illness" -- developed a unique system to clearly identify each pet, before and after.

Espey does twice-weekly rounds at veterinary clinics in the Mat-Su, plus Eagle River and South Anchorage. Staffers attach a metal identification tag that stays on during cremation. Someone notes the name of the owner, as well as the pet's name and weight, on a paper form.

Before cremation, Espey tacks the forms on a bulletin board to mark the animal's place inside the cremator. Afterward, she matches the tag to the label and attaches the label to a metal tin that holds the sack of fine ash.

Espey's clients really like the tag system.

"It gives the pet owners more confidence," said Brenda Fulmer, office manager at Big Lake-Susitna Veterinary Hospital. "Sometimes pet owners ask to make sure that it is indeed their pet that comes back."

More customers at the vet hospital are requesting cremation, especially in winter when the ground is too hard for burial, Fulmer said. About half of the customers at North Star choose cremation, and half of them want the remains, said veterinarian Teresa Beck, one of two vets there.

Espey comes by more often than the Anchorage cremation companies did, Beck said, "so owners can have their pet's ashes back in a couple days rather than a week or more."


Not everybody opts for cremation. Some bury animals. Some toss them in the landfill.

Shell out good money to cremate a pet? Espey gets it. She understands the bond between humans and animals.

The soft-spoken 46-year-old scattered dog beds in nooks around her business for her young pit bull, Elliott, and 15-year-old Bull Terrier Shelby. A peach-faced lovebird, Rosie, chirps from the reception area. There are turtles, fish and snails at home, and Espey won't even say how many cats.

Espey hopes to plant a garden in front of her unassuming red metal building on South Chugach Street, a sparsely populated neighborhood that's zoned industrial. Weather permitting, she hopes to offer outdoor euthanasia.

While most of her business comes from veterinary clinics, Espey also wants to offer more individual services to people without vets or who don't want to take their pets to a clinic to be put down.

She charges by the pound -- starting at $1.40 -- adding $65 if owners want the remains back and more if they want the animals cremated alone.

Some owners don't want the remains back. Those go in Espey's garden or a friend's.

"They are not going to go to the dump," she said.

By August, Passages will also offer professional grief counseling.

"I'm hoping it'll help people," Espey said. "We put so much onto our pets. They're family members, but you look at them and you remember that time you got through with them, or that great camping trip. A lot of that is tied up with them, too."

7/9/2008 10:27:15 AM
Posts: 5
So our little Maggied died last night. She was in her favorite spot under the bed, in the position she sleeps in... but her eyes were open. I'm just trying to find things to comfort my ex. Do you think she died in her sleep? She had cancer and was getting pretty weak. We were probably going to have her put down either today or tomorrow depending on how she was today but she made the decison for us. I'm hoping she didn't suffer and I'm just looking for some reaaurances.
7/9/2008 12:40:19 PM
Posts: 25
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. But like you said she spared you the decision. From the sound of it she went peacefully.

Just after Christmas last year I lost a dear dog, my Domena. She was a Polish Lowland Sheepdog, full of life, just 7 years old. A long story, but she had just undergone surgery to repair a broken elbow. She reacted to the Deramaxx that she was given for pain. There were no adverse symptoms, I woke up to find her gone.

It is never easy to lose them. Be assured that she is no longer suffering and she will be waiting for you at the bridge.

Kivalina Siberian Huskies and
Polish Lowland Sheepdogs
7/9/2008 4:14:11 PM
Posts: 409
I'm so sorry for your loss. Know that she passed feeling safe in her favorite spot and that she knew you both loved her.
7/9/2008 5:33:24 PM
Posts: 1904
I am very sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is, and how much you can second guess what you do or have done. We have all been there.

Serena Galloway
IGCA rescue Colorado

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