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Chronic Kidney Failure in Dogs Community
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My Beloved Topsy. Is it time?

I have a sweet and wonderful JRT named Topsy who is 16 1/2 now.  Her kidney numbers have been elevated for several years but the progression was very slow until very recently when she was hospitalized with a severe urinary tract infection and very high kidney disease numbers. From the beginning of the year when we found out that her numbers were creeping up, she has been doing marvelously on a prescription diet from Just Food For Dogs. She wasn't in perfect health before this but life was pretty good. She is blind and deaf and a little nutty (aren't we all?) and has been having "accidents" for years now, but we just put it down to old age and worked with it.  We carry her outside to do her business and carry her back in as she can't make it up the front steps. At night she sleeps in the office with our Viszla Stella and a lot of PeePee Pads on the floor for damage limitation.  Luckily my husband works from home so he is around during the day to make sure she gets out often.  She gets around the house remarkably well and, until recently seemed to enjoy a potter around the garden and a good sniff about. Everything changed 2 weeks ago while I was out of town.  I have been going back and forth from CA to VA for work and I noticed before I left the last time that she was eating less.  Then my husband called me and said that she had had an upset stomach and was not eating at all.  She was losing weight and stumbling around. He tried all sorts of different foods with varying degrees of success.  He took her to the animal hospital and she was hospitalized.  Topsy has always HATED going to the vet and I was very, very worried about her psychological and emotion state also.  After 2 days, they allowed my husband to bring her home. She is on a 6-week course of antibiotics, subcutaneous fluids, anti-nausea meds, appetite stimulants, and Pepcid Ac.  They gave us prescription food also and told us to get her numbers checked in 10 days. My husband had a brutal few days with her as she hated the IV, the meds and the food and she would just struggle and tremble while he was trying to administer them.  They were both miserable. We decided to stop with the IV as it was so traumatic. After a couple of days, she did start to eat a little, but it was very hit or miss.  My husband had to go out of town too so I put my work on hold and came home.  I didn't feel good about leaving her with the house sitter, even though she is absolutely wonderful but the vet had recommended that I see Topsy for myself and I couldn't bear the thought of her going through this without me.  She said that I was probably the best person to determine if she was still enjoying life as we are so deeply bonded. When I got home she didn't get up to greet me she was so fast asleep and didn't show the same joy at seeing me that she used to. She was painfully thin and very disheveled.  I did get her to eat 3 times tho that day!  Rx food, rice, cottage cheese and she was eating with gusto.  I took her to the vet the next day to get her numbers checked and talk about the next steps.  Was it time to put her to sleep?  How long did she have, is she in pain, how would a dog die if left to die naturally etc.  I have to go back to VA to finish my project and then we have a family gathering at Thanksgiving when we will all be away - how are we going to handle this?  So many, many big and painful questions.  Could she get better? And on and on......My head was and still is reeling with all these questions, which is how I found this lovely group. Thank you all for your wonderful posts.  It is a great comfort to see that I am not alone in this agony.  I don't want the responsibility of taking Topsy's life - (that's what it feels like), choosing a date and time, making an appointment based on my work and travel plans.  That sounds so callous.  Everyone says "You'll know when "it's time"" and the vet certainly seems to think that it is, but I  am confused, guilty, sad and quite frankly completely overwhelmed.  How do we know what is right?  I used to say, rather pompously I now realize, that our gift back to our pets is giving them a painless and peaceful death.  But how do we know that it's peaceful and painless?  How do we know when the time is right?  I don't want to live with any doubt that it was too soon and that she could've enjoyed life for a few hours more.Maybe my real responsibility is feeling this pain and making the decision anyway.  That is what is so bloody hard.  The vet was quite reluctant to do the test but I opted to do it anyway.  She called me yesterday with the results. The numbers are a tad better but they are extremely high and she told me that Topsy would probably not make it more than a few weeks.  But I felt that given that she was eating well and seemed more alert, we could probably keep going.  Today was different.  She didn't want the cottage cheese I put her antibiotics on and it took a lot of encouragement to get her to eat her meat and rice.  In the end, I had to leave out the rice.  She was outside for a little and sniffed around, but t was a bit half-hearted. She was trembling and twitching a lot too.  She has always been a bit of a trembler but the twitching in her sleep is new. I have a little hammock/sling that I put her in.  I think she likes to be close to me and she fell asleep, snoring loudly. So I took the quiet time to read about end-stage renal failure and while I'm very grateful for the sharing of information and the enormous compassion you all are showing, the reality is setting in.  She's not getting better from this and we will have to say goodbye.  So now I have to decide when.  Do I do it now, before I go back to finish my job?  Do I wait, in the hope that she will hang on until I get back so that I can be with her? I know my husband will take excellent care of her but will she be miserable without me?  Will she be scared?  Is it fair?  Then there's the Thanksgiving week when we were to be gone for ten days and the house sitter was to be here. I can't bear the thought of Topsy dying when neither of us is there to comfort her and love her.  That is out of the question, now that I see it written down.... My daughter is upset with me that we might want to cancel our Thanksgiving plans which have been in place for months - oh well! Topsy is sleeping on the beautiful faux-fur rug that my husband treasures.  She has had filet mignon and white rice. She seems perfectly happy. I would really appreciate your thoughts and guidance <3
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