How do you know when it’s time?

Our basenji is just over 15 years old. We rescued him when he was only 9 months. He’s always been a very busy dog, but has definitely slowed down over the last few years. He can’t see or hear very well. He can’t go up or down stairs - we have to carry him. He wears diapers almost daily because he has many many accidents. And he just had a second seizure today (first one was a month ago). He sleeps a lot now and when he’s not sleeping he aimlessly walks in circles. However, he’s still eating normally and seems content. As a first time pet owner, I would like some advice when you know it’s the right time to say good bye. Does that even exist? I fear he doesn’t have a good quality of life now, but that can’t be a reason to say goodbye.

@griffinsmom First, I get it so much. This, for me, is the hardest hardest part of the dog contract... Being the one to make the call. As a good vet once said to me... No one, and I mean no one knows your pet better than you. You've been his best friend for these last 14+ years. You know his signals. You know his eyes. You know his posture. You know all of it. No one will know better than you when he is suffering. No one wants that. But this is the hard part. I went out of my way to create moments of pleasure for mine. And he responded, so we kept going. I can't and wouldn't presume to tell you what you should do, or when. That's strictly between you and him. I would encourage you to ask yourself if you're keeping him going for him, or for you. That question takes a great deal of courage to ask and I sincerely wish you both the very best.

my heart is breaking for you

This is the most difficult decision - it is never easy. If he is not telling you it's time, maybe it isn't quite. But it sounds as though it soon might come to it.

You have to weigh up his dignity and quality of life and ask yourself if you are prolonging it for him or for yourselves. As I've said before, it is the last chance we get to show them we love them. By letting them go with dignity before quality of life deteriorates too far.

Far better to be a day or too early than a day or so too late.

I've been this road so often over the years with my pack - its heart-breaking but there is consolation in knowing you have done the right thing by your beloved Basenji.

I pay most attention to eating. If the dog is still eager for his food and otherwise doesn't seem uncomfortable that to me is a sign his life might be worth living. If in pain, has to be coaxed to eat, then I think it is time. The seizures OTOH are worrisome. In the end you will have to make that call, and as Zande says, better to think it might have been too soon than to know you waited too long. This is the hardest part of pet ownership. My thoughts are with you in this difficult time.

@griffinsmom
I can sympathize w/ you - my B is also 15 and I am having some of the same issues. She did have her yearly vet appointment 3 weeks ago and the Vet put her on some medication and I can say I have noticed a major improvement. I’m being realistic and having to prepare myself that this may be her last year of life. Hopefully she will let me know when it’s time.

@griffinsmom

The best advice I can give is based on this. "However, he’s still eating normally and seems content."
I have had two pass and when they are no longer eating and they are no longer content.

It's never easy, but you have to live with the decision and the hole they leave behind in your life.

I am so very sorry you are trying to decide this question about when it is time to let your beloved Basenji boy go. I can't really say anything more than what others have said but I DO believe they let us know. He will. And as others said though, this decision is yours and yours alone based on how he does day to day. And as heart aching and breaking as this is, THIS is the most loving and last thing we can do for our beloved Basenjis and all our animal family when that time for that one's life is nearing his (or her) ending especially since they give us SO much unconditional loving that it makes our hearts nearly burst. And just continue to love him, spoil him, and be there for him as you have been and are. I pray that when time comes for his passing, that his passing will be gentle, swift, peaceful and pain free. Like he has and now, he will know your great love and devotion you gave to him and have for him because you will be there letting him know the love you will always have for him when that time comes. Remember that he has taught and continues to teach you the greatest of lessons on life, living, and love all the time. Prayers for him and for you all especially for strength and endurance in the days and moments ahead ❤

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Bad timing as we just had to make that decision a few days ago (well, the vet confirmed the direction).

She was 16 last Christmas Day, so almost 16-1/2.

We’ve been dealing with exactly what you listed (less the seizures), and what finally happened is she kept falling/barely could get up....and after a day, we realized she couldn’t open her mouth. She’d walk to the food/water area and stand over the bowls but not eat/drink. Poor thing. Once we realized that, we went to the vet the next morning and one look at her, the vet said those terrible words...“it’s time”:(. Which we knew.

This is our 2nd B. First one made it just over 17!

It is no fun and sorry you have to go through it soon.

@jh5927, sorry to hear this. Never an easy time even when you are sure it is the right time. All of us who love our animals have to walk this path eventually. My thoughts are with you and everyone dealing with the hard decisions.

So sorry to hear about your pup. It's never easy and it's never easy to make the call. Horrible having to play God IMO. So no, there is no "right time" to say goodbye. The basic rule is that with the situation you've described it's time when you decide it is. That's not cavalier, it just reflects the fact that some people will decide sooner and some later. No real right or wrong. It's a super difficult call whether you've never had to do it or had done it ten times. FWIW we've always made the call later than we should have, including with our first dog who was in a situation similar to what you're describing.

That said, sometimes it's useful to ask: "If I were a dog what would my choice be for me?"

Again, my deepest sympathies. One thing which can make saying goodbye easier is if you can have a mobile vet do it at home. Just a more comfortable situation for the dog and you.

@jh5927
My deepest sympathies. The loss is immeasurable and so is the love left behind. 🐾❤

As most have said "nobody knows your dog better than you". I totally relate. I have a 16 year 2.5 month old basenji named Zak. Zak has CCD (canine cognitive dysfunction = aka doggie alzheimer's). He paces, he circles, he has fallen down and took his time in getting up. He wears a belly band as he will pee anywhere and everywhere. I have no stairs, so that's not a problem. He hasn't had any seizures or at least non that I have seen anyways, because I still work. He does sleep alot. But, he loves to eat. He haslost alot of weight and drinks alot of water. I have him on SeniLife, Animal Essential Heart Health, and Joy Organic CBD oil. I feed him Purina Pro Plan Bright Minds for seniors. It promotes alertness, and mental sharpness. I also belong to a CCD support group on Facebook which members are going through the same thing, or just the start of this journey, and some have had ended their journey. Lots of love and support and things to ask your vet. Zak is totally deaf. I think he can hear some VERY loud noises, but not me talking to him. I am questioning myself as to the quality of life that Zak has. Sometimes he gets off the couch when I get home from work, only because he see's Mr.T (10 year old basenji) get up, and goes to the door. He looks forward to his meals. Doesn't seem to be in pain, but I know his time is coming. I've had him since he was 4 months old, and its hard to see him like this. My 17 year old female had CCD really bad, and one night just before I got home from work, I believe she had a seizure, and T attacked her. I got her cleaned up as best I could, as she hates water with a passion. She didn't want her dinner. So, I put her on her bed, and covered her up. She was ok when I went to bed, but had passed before I got up in the morning. It hurt that I wasn't their to comfort her during her time. She was also deaf, so talking wouldn't have helped, but just giving her some soothing pats and scritches I think could have helped. I don't know. If you are on Facebook, go to the Canine Cognitive Dysfunction group. You will have to join, but oh so worth the help and love and information.............everybody is very supportive as they are all going through the same thing. Only you know your dog the best. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.......including your vet. Virtual hugs to you, its not easy. But he is family and you treat them like family til their last breath.

I am so sorry to read that your basenji is not well and perhaps nearing the end of his life. I've known so many pet owners who, after their pet passed away, said "I waited too long." I had three basenjis; they were all 15-17 years old when they went to the rainbow bridge. I almost didn't get any more dogs after they died because those decisions were so difficult. I think that using eating as the marker is not enough. What I think about first is DIGNITY. Human beings who are nearing the end can think about dignity but our pets can't. I think it is up to us to let our pets go before they are peeing and pooping everywhere or acting confused. Surely something must tell them that this is not their normal behavior.
I have a wonderful article written by Dr.Marc Bekoff, an animal behaviorist, who wrote about how difficult it was to make the decision. Unfortunately I don't have a link; I just have the article. He talks about having to make the decision about his 12-year-old dog. Please forgive me for including so much of what he said in this response, but I couldn't have said it any better, and each time I have had to say goodbye to one of my pets I have turned to this article for comfort and understanding and knowing that I am doing the right thing . I recently had to say goodbye to my 16-year-old cat and it wasn't any easier than the last time but Dr. Bekoff's words comforted me:

Jethro knew I’d do what’s best for him and I came to feel that often he’d look at me and say, “It’s OK. Please take me out of my misery and lessen your burden. Let me have a dignified ending to what was a great life. Neither of us feels better letting me go on like this.” And I feel he told me that the moral dilemma I faced was no predicament at all; that I had done all I could and that his trust in me was not compromised one bit — but, perhaps, strengthened; that I had made the right choice; that I could go on with no remorse or apologies.....Our companions are counting on us to be for them in all situations, to let them go and not to let their lives deteriorate into undignified humiliation while we ponder our own needs in lieu of theirs. We are obliged to do so. We can do no less.

Your basenji will thank you, and you will be at peace, knowing that you made the right decision.

@basenjimom2 I feel like you just described my basenji. Thank you so much for the insight. We have a vet appointment on Friday and I'm going to ask him about CCD.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to post a reply to my question. You all had my husband and I in tears reading the messages. It's so nice to know that there are wonderful people in this forum to provide some guidance. We have a vet appointment on Friday, just to have him checked out. He seems to be doing okay now. Still aimlessly wondering around the house and wearing his diapers, but content and still interested in food. Thank you all!

@GriffinsMom......"Some" vets don't know enough about CCD, or not very familiar with it. I hope your vet knows enough to give you some honest (they might hurt) answers to your questions. If you can check out the CCD group on Facebook before you go to your vet appointment, just so you can be armed with "some" knowledge of whats going on. I also forgot to mention that Zak has gotten stuck in places, corners and such. Now that he has had his Animal Essential Heart Health for a couple of days now, he seems to be doing much better.....................still places, circles, gets stuck, but he's moving and looking for food. Then he will get up on the couch and take a long nap. Do some research on your own on CCD before you see the vet. Write down questions that you want answered, or at least would like answered, if possible.

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