Pure Crabby-ness

I have been so unbelievably crabby for the last 2 weeks.  I finally figured out why.  The other night, I was wrapped in my blanket of Chili Dawg and I was crying.  I realized how guilty I feel for putting Chili Dawg to sleep.  I feel like I failed him.  We couldn’t afford chemo, so part of me wonders- if we had done chemo, would his cancer have returned so quickly?  He was my best companion and friend and I couldn’t help him at the end.  I know we say “no regrets”, but I just feel terrible that I couldn’t do anything for his cancer at the end.  When it was time for our vet to give him his injection, I just sat there with his head in my lap telling him how sorry I was.  I don’t know how to get past this feeling of guilt and feeling of failure.  Help me, please.

15 thoughts on “Pure Crabby-ness”

  1. Well, admitting it is the first step, as they say. I had a lot of guilt about some stuff about Tate, too. I kept trying to talk myself out of it, the usual “no regrets” stuff (which is really quite effective except not when you’ve had to euthanize your best friend).

    I finally poured it all out to a friend, all of it. And she listened and said “oh, no” and “ooo, I see” – in other words, she acknowledged that I felt like sh*t about it and she could understand why I felt like sh*t and she didn’t try to make it better. But in the end she said, “I think Tate would forgive you.”

    So I’m not going to say, “You did the best you could” – we all know that, you know that. Instead, I’ll say, “Didn’t Chili Dawg always love you no matter what? I think he would forgive you…in fact, I’m sure of it.”

    I’m guessing Tate and Chili Dawg are swapping stories right now. I don’t know what ChiliDawg’s stories are but Tate’s telling him about Montrose Beach, and the cabin, and this monkeybutt little sister Sam, and PupCorn…and then they’ll just go for a good hard run, just for the fun of it.


  2. You did your best for Chili Dawg. He felt your love and returned it too. We humans need to get past the what if’s…I know, I often wonder if I did the right thing by letting Daisy go when she started having seizures…should I have tried different meds? cat scans? Be assured that you didn’t fail him. You did more than many people would have and during his journey you were there every step of the way. You were there with him at the end and I am sure he left this world feeling your love. We are sending you peaceful thoughts and understanding.

  3. I know you are in pain, and that only time will ease it. But, Jenna, you did do EVERYTHING you could for your Chili Dawg. You didn’t fail him, and if he were still here, I know he would somehow let you know this… You only feel like it wasn’t enough, because you couldn’t save him from this horrible disease.

    You loved him more than anything, and he knew it. You could see how happy he was; he had such a light in his eyes. That was because of you! You put that light there… You gave him everything he ever wanted or needed. You didn’t fail him. Cancer failed him.

    Thinking of you and sending you lots of hugs.

  4. jenna, you did your best. chilidawg , you did your best. would you have asked any more from him, do you fault chili for dying?? of course you don’t. he was brave and true, he did his best. stop holding yourself to a higher standard than anyone else. as much as we hate cancer, we need to know that for now it exists and it steals our friends. cut yourself a break, chili certainly would.

    charon & gayle

  5. Please stop shoulding on yourself. There is no way of telling how life may have been, and we have heard more than one story about dogs nearly dying from adverse reactions to chemotherapy.

    Know that you did everything you could within your means for Chili and remember how he would never want you to be so sad.

    What you’re feeling is a perfectly normal phase of the grieving process. We all go through it, so these words may mean nothing now. But that’s OK. Thanks for sharing your feelings.

  6. Oh Jenna!

    I no profound words to ease your pain. I understand the guilt.

    I used to feel so guilty about my brother dying. One of my last conversations with him was to tell him that his sickness symptoms was just depression. After all, that’s what the doctor said. I just kept pestering him on how he should do things to combat the depression. In reality, his symptoms was water on the brain from a malfunctioning shunt had when he was a baby. No one even realized he still needed it after 43 years. He went to bed and basically died one night. He was revived but was brain dead. A simple CT scan would have showed it. He had an appt. for one the following week after he died.

    I tell you this story, not to feel sorry but to enlighten. I felt I was trying to help with words that would get him out of his funk. Guilt haunted me for several years because I would have done anything for him! It’s been almost 5 years now and finally I am at peace in my mind because I don’t know if anything I would have done would have changed the outcome.

    There are no guarantees in life and Chili couldn’t have had a better home. He couldn’t have been more loved.

    Chemo or no chemo, Chili Dawg had cancer. And just like my vet told me when I let Comet go, half of all people and dogs develop cancer from old age. It is the leading cause of death in senior dogs.

    You did every thing. You cared and loved him. And to a dog, that is every thing!

    Lots of virtual hugs.

    P.S. – Christmas is a terrible time when you’ve lost loved ones!

  7. You did everything you could. you loved him and he knew it. Nothing was more important to chili than that. Chemo is no guarantee that he would have lived any longer and he may have not even reacted well to it.
    Sending you love and hugs from the UK

  8. Thank you everyone for your kind words. I appreciate it, especially your willingness to share your personal stories. I think Ge’Lena is right, Christmas is making it tough for me. I think I needed to get it off my chest & out in the open in order to help me heal.

  9. Venting is a very good way to get through this part of the grieving process. The very sad reality of the situation is that most dogs that get cancer, die from it. It doesn’t matter how much money you have to spend trying to defeat it. It is really hard to come to grips with the fact that so much of this is out of your control, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t fix it. You get to be grumpy and crabby for awhile, then you move past it, it is all part of the process. And I really think the first year after a loss is so hard because you face all those occasions where Chili was always there, and now is not. But it will get better as you continue to heal.


  10. Yeah, this time of year can be tough when you are missing a loved one. There’s no way to know if things could have been different. Even though we did chemo, I wonder if we’d gone really hard with just the hollistic stuff right from the get-go, would that have stopped Abby’s mets? No way to know. I hope just getting this off your chest has at least helped. Hopefully you will be at peace with everything soon. Chili had a wonderful home with you and he would not want you to be sad. He loved you and nothing would change that.


  11. Jenna,

    I’ve always felt a bond with you because Hope passed away just days before Chili Dawg. We’ve been going through many of the same feelings at the same time, including guilt.

    I wonder if we had Hope’s leg amputated a couple of years earlier, when one vet recommended, if she would still be with us today. We worked hard for a couple of years to save her leg, but did that cost her life? If we had it done earlier, when she was younger/stronger, would she still be with us today? Even though she didn’t act like it, were the salve treatments that for a while “ate” the cancer, painful to her?

    Yes, holidays are especially sad right now because our beloved companions aren’t here to share them with us–to go see Santa for photos or to wear their reindeer or Santa hats. We aren’t putting a tree up this year because I just can’t bear to look at all Hope’s ornaments that we hung on HER own special tree.

    I don’t know how long we will grieve, Jenna. I can go into a crowded store or be sitting here late at night and all of a sudden I will think of Hope and my heart breaks all over again. I hope that in time, all we have are good memories of the time we had with Chili Dawg and Hope, instead of the doubt and guilt that we now have about how we could have/should have done things differently and if the outcome would have been different. Would they still be with us?

    I definitely feel that Chili Dawg and Hope are in heaven now just running and playing like two puppies–goldens find each other in a crowd, you know. I don’t think they grieve for us like we are grieving for them and I feel they would not want us to feel sad, but to just remember the good times, which I hope comes soon for both of us. They know we thought long and hard to make the best decisions based on the love we had for them. We shouldn’t doubt those decisions….although for now, that’s what we’re doing.

    Tripawds.com/Mission of Hope has helped me tell others about the tripawd community. I still can’t post very often here, but I feel that I am helping others by visiting veterinarians and surgeons and leaving information to direct people to this site and a loving, compassionate group of people. I need to focus on something positive now to get me through the dark days of not having Hope with us.

    Yes, I understand how you feel right now, Jenna, but you gave Chili Dawg a wonderful, loving home, and that’s all that was important to him.

    Whenever you feel sad or alone, we are here for you and we do understand.

    With much love,

    Barb and Spirit Hope

  12. I’m so sorry that you’re feeling this way. I have a story that I hope will help….

    A few days before 2009 Christmas, we had to make the decision to euthanize our dear Punchie. We told the kids on the 22nd and they begged us to wait until after the holidays. I said, let’s try to wait … but if she gets any worse, we have to call the vet. The next morning, she had another seizure, this one longer and more terrible than any others. I knew that we were being selfish to let her suffer so that we could have a nice Christmas.

    I talked to the kids and they told me I was “ruining” Christmas (aren’t teenagers great?). Then I called the vet with a heavy heart full of sorrow and guilt. He said to come in whenever we were ready.

    Of course I was very emotional through the whole procedure. After, we stayed in the room with her for a long, long time. When the vet came back in, he said something that I will always remember and now I would like to share with you.

    He said, “Our dogs give us their unconditional love for their entire lives. They are selfless and will do anything for us. It’s what they live for. As painful as today is, remember how fortunate it is that we are able to do this one selfless thing for them. It is really a gift to be able to end the suffering that they themselves cannot escape.”

    His words lifted my guilt and prompted me to focus on what a loving and loyal companion Punch had been for 7 years.

    And so Christmas Day was not that bad. I made an ornament likeness of her and put it in Rumbles’ stocking. We left an open place in front of the fireplace, where she loved to sit while we opened gifts. And we laughed about how she used to steal and hide all of the dog gifts after Rumbles opened them.

    I still miss her. But I am also kind of proud of myself for using a little bit of my own dog-strength by remaining vigilant and dedicated to doing what my beautiful girl needed me to do.

  13. I am so sorry I am late on commenting. I am trying hard to figure out how to navigate the site.

    I wanted to echo rumblesmom. I did not know it at the time, but I put my “heart dog” through medical procedures that turned out to be totally pointless. I put him through a really nasty biopsy and had to put him down less than 2 weeks later. To make matters worse, the surgeon called me as I was leaving my beloved Jake at the Vets for the last time… to give me the results of the biopsy. I was literally getting in the car.

    I told him it didn’t matter how bad the results were because I already made the decision to let Jake go. What he said next I will NEVER forget. He said that what I did was the most un-selfish act that he could imagine and he wished that all his patients had a mom like me. I was stunned. I was in so much pain, I could hardly stand it…but here was a man (doctor) not only telling me I did the right thing…but congratulating me. And I always remember the word he used…”un-selfish”. That is what you need to remember about your beloved chilidawg…no matter how bad it hurts…you put that baby above all else. There IS no greater love.

  14. Jenna, I am sorry for posting so late but I just saw this entry this morning. I am new to this site and don’t really feel entitled to offer any advice to those of you who have been here so much longer, but I really feel compelled to share this.

    Eleven years ago we adopted two littermates from a shelter where I was volunteering. You have seen Zeus’ story here. Until this cancer he has been our healthy dog who never needed anything more than his vaccines. His brother, Merlin, was a totally different story.

    Merlin had the traditional ACL surgery around age 4 in his left knee. Two years later he had to have surgery for a luxating patella in his right knee. At age 8.5 he started limping again and was diagnosed with a partially torn ACL in his right knee. Our vet at the time recommended TPLO (gold standard) for repair. Although he was still walking on the leg, we were assured that the ligament would eventually finish tearing and it was better if we fixed it before that happened. So, to surgery he went.

    The two weeks after surgery he seemed fine other than the expected pain from the surgery. At three weeks he developed a cough and the vet treated for kennel cough. Within a week he developed trouble breathing and loss of coordination in his hind legs. He spent two days in an oxygen crate at the specialist’s office with a suspected blood clot to the lungs. He survived to come home with us for about two weeks during which time his condition worsened, he lost weight, could barely stand or walk, etc. We finally let him go two days before Thanksgiving. The vet suspected either liver disease or “an underlying cancer” which reared its head while his body was weakened from the surgery. Unfortunately he was WAY to weak for the biopsies needed to confirm, so we made him as comfortable as possible until it was time to let him go.

    That was the most heartwrenching holiday season I could have imagined. We still to this day feel guilty. If we hadn’t had the ACL surgery, then maybe his body could have fought the illness for awhile. I mean, he was walking and eating. Maybe the partial tear would have healed on its own? So many unknowns. So many questions. I understand how you feel.

    Finally, I will share with you what finally brought me some measure of comfort. A dear friend pointed out to me all that we had done for Merlin during his time with us. Three expensive surgeries, three recoveries which involved sleeping on the floor, carrying a dog that weighed half as much as me, eleven years of no vacations because we couldn’t bear to board the babies, etc. She asked me how many other people would have gone through that “trouble” for “a dog”. She pointed out that our dogs felt nothing but love from us and that we cannot allow a lifetime of love to be overshadowed by those final days or months that were out of our control.

    Chili Dawg knew tremendous love. I am sure that his spirit senses that you still love him and that you are still fighting the fight by helping each and every one of us on this site.

    I hope you can find some peace soon. Hugs to you and prayers for strength during this difficult time.


  15. Oh Jenna, I am so late in catching up. I am so sorry you had to go through these blues. It was a crappy time of the year, and I hope now that it is past you have found some peace.

    I think Rio’s Mom said it well – We will always think we didn’t do enough because we can’t save them. There will always be “what-ifs”. None of us can say we don’t have them or think about them from time to time (especially during the silly season). I just try to remember that we can’t let those what-ifs bury us and overwhelm us. Or it will overshadow the legacy and relationship that we had on this side of the bridge. The bond you and Chili had shows thru in all your incredibly beautiful pictures. Please know you could never have failed him.

    Hugs to you, even if they are a little late.

    Nancy & Butchey (and a headbutting Lola)

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