Let me get your opinion on some things.

Today, or for the last few days, more accurately, I wanted to post about some stuff – okay, it’s been a week or so since I wanted to post about some stuff, I’m just having trouble getting back into the swing of this, or actually, it’s not that I’m having trouble getting back into the habit of blogging, but more having trouble getting back into the habit of finding time to write a couple of thousand words, and apparently zero interest in developing the habit of writing less. So stuff has been building up for a bit and it’s finally enough for a post, not that I can’t turn a 12 second interaction with a stranger into a 2000 word screed barely related to whatever my original point was going to be.

I’ve been thinking about a whole bunch of different unrelated stuff and just wanted to know what other people thought of them, or your personal experiences with them, because I… just want to know. So I’ll put them out there and you can chime in if you’ve got experience with what I’m talking about, or you heard some stuff from someone who does, or even if you have no experience and just want to say something. What the hell, go wild.

First thing. A week or so ago? Maybe more? I don’t know. What happened was, Cheesefiend on Instagram (Elephantitas Alegres on… blog) posted a picture of some turkish towels. I’ve seen turkish towels before and not been moved one way or the other, because I have towels. But right at this exact moment, my towels are kind of crappy and always falling out of the cabinet and they’re all mismatched, as if purchased one single set or even single towel at a time based on what was on sale at whatever store I was closest to at the moment I needed a towel instead of on any kind of aesthetic or quality preferences. I mean, almost like that, because I definitely want you to view me as the type of person who puts some thought into her towels. And I guess that picture was posted at just the right time, because those towels suddenly struck me as totally appealing. Thin enough to pack easily. Take up less space in that stupid hall closet I hate. Nice to look at. They’ll dry faster so they won’t be as gross as towels tend to get. 

But… they are really thin. Can they effectively dry off an entire person? And I mean a person who is a standard level of shower-wet. Just totally covered in water, which I assume most people are after a shower. And they’re expensive. Do they hold up really well? Are they a standard size, like bath sheet size, or more bath towel size? There are some people who will insist that bath sheets and bath towels are the same thing, did you know that? They are NOT. Anyway, do you have or have you used turkish towels? Do you just have one and prefer it for certain things, or are all your towels turkish towels? Where did you get them? How long have you had them? Do you love them or kind of wish they’d go to hell?

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Okay, next thing. If you follow me on Twitter or read my TinyLetter, you’ve probably heard me talk a little bit about this, but I’m going to talk some more about it: Brinkley isn’t doing well. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, you know that Brinkley is Phil’s dog who I immediately claimed as my own when we moved in together. Brinkley is my first dog, and I met him when he was four. He’s 10 now, almost 11, and earlier this week I took him to the vet because he’s been breathing kind of quickly. When we moved to this base, we were dealing with the side effects of Brinkley’s Valley Fever infection, and I was concerned that the disease was making a comeback in his body, since we’ve had him only on a maintenance level of his medication for a while now. It was about time to get that blood work checked again, so in we went. Unfortunately, it quickly turned into one of those “can you leave him for tests and come back later?” appointments. You know, the kind that cost almost a thousand dollars hold me.

They took some blood and some x-rays. Like always, the vet was pleasantly surprised by how great his blood work came back. Everything was perfectly within the normal range except for very, VERY slightly elevated liver levels. The valley fever results had to be sent out, so they will take a while to get back. The x-rays also had to be sent out for a consult, but our vet was able to tell us what he saw. Nothing too bad in the lungs, nothing that would indicate the valley fever was out of control. Brinkley’s hips looked awful – flatted where the ball and socket joint should be nice and round, and very jaggedy. His left leg also has little muscle mass, due to that giant abscess last year that ate away at all the muscle. So, increased pain could lead to the faster breathing, for sure. And a bit of a shadow around his liver that was worrisome.

The next day, I didn’t put my phone down for a second while I waited for a call back, and finally called back myself. When I got in touch with the doctor, he went over what the radiologists had said. Lungs are consistent with previous valley fever and just old dog-ness, nothing to be too concerned about there. Hips look bad, but we know that and took an additional pain medication prescription to try to make him more comfortable. The shadow around the liver, though, is a large mass. He’ll need an ultrasound and possible liver aspirations to determine what it is – a benign mass or malignancy, but they were very concerned. We live in a very small town with no access to pet ultrasounds, so our local vet made very quick work of getting us scheduled in the next town over for Monday morning. Before I hung up, I asked our vet to level with me and tell me what he thought. To his credit, he didn’t hedge or skirt the issue at all – he thinks it’s cancer and he thinks it’s not good.

We know Brinkley’s old, and I kind of knew he wouldn’t last forever. I mean, I knew it, but I don’t think I really knew it. A long time ago, Phil told me goldens have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, and I kind of only heard “12” and have just assumed since that was the minimum we’d get. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen now, and I feel absolutely incapable of dealing with any of the aspects of this situation. Over the last year and a half, our dogs have cost over $5,000 – money I can’t say we were happy to spend, but money we didn’t hesitate to spend. Before we even get a diagnosis, we’ll be in $1,000+ on this round of Brinkley problems. What if the vet says he’ll be fine… with a $3,000 surgery? We don’t have it. We just don’t. We’ve spent everything on Brinkley. Everything we have. Actually, technically, more than we have. And he’s old. And he’s uncomfortable. What if they need to do surgery to find out if it’s benign or malignant? With hemangiosarcoma, if it did turn out to be cancer, that surgery would only add a few more months at the outside.

I told Phil he needs to make a living will immediately, with every possibility considered, because I am not a person who is equipped to make these kinds of decisions, but thinking about it, who is? I mean, there’s not a course you take or anything to prepare yourself for this kind of thing, and part of responsible pet ownership is knowing how far to go and for how long. And making that call, whether it’s one you’ve made before or for your first pet, is probably going to vary wildly by situation. It just seems like such an impossibly big decision. I know Brinkley doesn’t know anything about this kind of stuff, but I know and making that choice for another living being is nuts. It’s insane to me.

Obviously we’re not at that point yet – Phil is taking the day off on Monday so he can stay with Penny while I take Brinkley the hour away to the vet for his ultrasound. We didn’t think it would be a good idea for Penelope to be present in case we do receive bad news, but rather tell her ourselves when we’re composed. But then, when? I assume even if Brinkley does have cancer, we caught it quickly, because I am an obsessive and anxious pet owner. Do we tell her right away, tell her he has a few months left, and that we’re going to be extra nice to him, and no, that’s Brinkley’s steak, your peanut butter and jelly is on the table? Or do we tell her at the end? Do we tell her exactly what will happen at the end, or go with something a little more euphemistic?

This is all premature and I know that, but you can probably understand that I’m incredibly anxious about how the next few days to few months are going to play out.  Just tell me anything. Tell me about how this went for you and what you did or didn’t do or what you’d do differently. Or what you think you’ll do in the same situation. Just tell me anything at all.

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Lastly. Let’s assume we’re all my age, because that’s what I usually do. Remember starting some new job or maybe with your parents or grandparents, whichever works for you, where you had to learn a new software or use a computer in a new way, or some process changed suddenly and you had to do things differently, and you just did it, while some older people (NOT ALL) had a really hard time in the most frustrating ways? Like making you (me) have uncharitable thoughts like, why is this so hard? Why are you trying to do it that way? Why would you think it would work that way? It’s intuitive, why are you making it so difficult for yourself?

I don’t know about you, but I always just kind of assumed it was a factor of growing up with computers, like from the very start, while a lot of older people learned on the job. I’m specifically thinking of the first company I worked for out of college that used a specific and clunky order processing software. I worked at a branch office, and I was sent to the main office in Boston to learn the program for the sales coordinators who worked up there. The trip was for a week. An hour after arrival at the main office, I emailed my boss to ask if my plane tickets could be changed. Done. Got it. I do not need to stay here in frigid Boston (SO MUCH SNOW that winter) for an entire week to learn one process in one piece of software. But the women who trained me said that was how long it took, so I had to stay the week, and I just had my branch office send all the orders to me at the main office and worked as normal. I guess I just thought that because I’m familiar with computers in general, as are others my age, I picked it up quickly.

And I continue to be familiar with computers and I don’t really have too much trouble picking up new things and I thought that’s how it would continue for my whole life – a factor of when I was born, not a factor of age itself. BUT I WAS WRONG. There are things that are coming out now – things that young people pick up and run with without issue – that I just cannot grasp. And it’s not one of those, “oh, kids these days doing weird things, why would I want to?” type things where I don’t get why someone would want to do it, but more that I actually cannot figure out how to do it effectively or as intended, despite my best intentions. Like, say, tumblr. I like to go there and look at stuff about my favorite (Korean) shows and favorite (Korean) bands and all of that. But to actually use it? Like make posts and reply to other people and interact with others? Can’t. Cannot figure it out. OR SNAPCHAT. I don’t think I have anything of particular interest to post on Snapchat, but I want to follow some makeup people, because that is my jam, and the whole interface is just boggling to me. Why can’t I do this? I’m basically technically savvy. I use a jillion apps with no problem. I think it’s that I’m old.

Again, I don’t mean something I can’t understand because it’s not of interest to me. Like say Justin Beiber. He exists, sure, but I don’t grasp the appeal in any real way because I’m just not interested. I’m talking about things I am totally interested in, but cannot work to save my life. Yet young people pick these things up the same way that I learned work software in an hour and couldn’t figure out why it would take anyone any longer. That’s a punch right in past me’s ego. It’s happened to you, too, though, right? You assume you’re knowledgeable in some way about some topic, and other people aren’t because they were born in a different time, but then NO. Something new is totally boggling and suddenly YOU are the person born in the different time, EVEN THOUGH YOU (I) FEEL VERY CURRENT TIME. Am I explaining that well? Let me know.

Anyway, I think that’s it for today. Tell me what’s going on with you.

42 thoughts on “Let me get your opinion on some things.

  1. Angela/@antiangie

    I have no insight about Turkish towels but I have gone through the pet-with-bad-diagnosis process. I’m so sorry about Brinkley. In my experience there will come a point when you just know it’s time to say goodbye. I know that’s not really helpful but…you will know. There will be something missing and he will be ready. The timeline uncertainty really sucks, unfortunately, and there’s not a lot to be done about that but to keep an eye on him and make him comfortable.

    Also I feel like I should tell you that there are vets who make house calls, including for euthanasia. For some people it’s easier, for some it’s harder to have that happen at home. But it is an option in a lot of places.

    I don’t know how much I would tell my kid at this point. Do you feel like Penny is the kind of kid that really needs to mull things over or would rather NOT mull things over and just be kind of presented with the information? And are you prepared to deal with the endless stream of questions that might result from an early announcement? I think if it were my kid I would probably wait and tell her closer to the time we made a final decision.

    I’m sorry. It’s so hard, and no matter how many pets you have, it never gets easier. Brinkley is lucky to have you guys.

  2. Melissa

    I have two turkish towels that I got from Pop Sugar. I love the look of them. Have never once used them. I need to do that.

    Ugh. Dogs. This part, the near the end part, is so sucky. Our first lab, we don’t know exactly how old he was, had degenerative myelopathy – he was in no pain but was losing feeling in his back end. So we had to decide at one point he lost enough quality of life that he wouldn’t want to go on. It’s times like these you need a Dr. Doolittle. I’ve known so many retrievers with hemangiosarcoma and I hated so much to hear they found a mass on his liver. I think, since you asked, at Brinkley’s age if it were me I wouldn’t opt for any surgeries, especially if it’s hemangio. I’d spoil the crap out of him for whatever time I had. And I am so so sorry that you’re even having to think about all this.

    As far as the last thing? I’ve said many many times that I get stupider every day.

  3. Sarah Marie

    First, massive Internet hugs. Second, I don’t comment on your blog often (and when I do I’m never consistent with usernames because I can never remember what I used previously), but I’ve been following you on Twitter for years (I hope that doesn’t sound creepy) and love hearing about Penny and your dogs.

    I am so sorry to hear about Brinkley. Seeing your recent tweets about him really struck a chord with me because I’m going through the same thing with my dog. He’s 12 and he’s a mutt and prior to just recently he’s been incredibly healthy. And he still is, except this one thing.

    He’s got a lump on his leg and to make a long story short, his local vet and the vets at Cornell University think it’s malignant. Osteosarcoma. Only a biopsy can confirm, but we don’t want to put him through that. We don’t want to put him through radiation which probably won’t have any effect on it. We don’t want to amputate, when he’s 12 and is just starting to get a little arthritis in his back legs.

    So we’re keeping him comfortable. He’s not showing any symptoms. He’s still his usual playful self. When it starts making him uncomfortable we’ll give him pain meds. And we’ll keep going as long as he’s happy and comfortable with meds.

    I’m glad he’s not in any pain and not showing any symptoms. But in some ways that makes it all the more tragic, because if it weren’t for this he’d probably be one of those dogs who lives to 15 or 16. We were so vigilant about keeping him healthy and skinny to avoid problems when he got old, but this came out of nowhere. And that’s the thing about cancer: it doesn’t matter how healthy the person or animal is.

    I’ll be thinking of you and Brinkley on Monday. Finding out for sure helps, which is why my parents took my dog to Cornell for tests. But it still sucks. It sucks a lot.

  4. Kathleen

    Okay, as for your last point: as you began to introduce the topic I was thinking “I hope she is talking about Snapchat.” I am about your age, I think, and for life of me I can NOT figure it out.

    Now onto the serious pet stuff. Oh Lord, did we have a crazy beginning to last year. We had two dogs. Cleo was 9, Eddie was 12. My son was born mid-January and then TWO WEEKS LATER Cleo got really sick for the weekend. Vomiting everything, lethargic. She had always had a sensitive stomach so I assumed she had a virus. But when she wasn’t better for two days and vomiting up water, I took her in. Turns out she had a raging infection in her abdomen. There was also a pellet in there – like from a pellet gun. Everything was so infected that they couldn’t tell what was actually causing it, and they couldn’t even say whether she had swallowed the pellet or been shot with it.

    She was going to need major surgery to give her a chance, and she might not have survived the surgery. And even if the surgery was successful, she might have had cancer or something causing it. Keep in mind, I took her in that morning WITH MY TWO WEEK OLD BABY IN TOW thinking she had a virus. Instead, we decided to put her to sleep. And it was done that day.

    My God, it was so hard to make that choice. But we didn’t have the money for the surgery, and she would have been miserable through it, and I for sure didn’t have the physical or emotional capability to deal with her recovery when I MYSELF was recovering from surgery (C-section). But it was still so hard to actually make the call. You are DECIDING to end a life, one that doesn’t HAVE to end right that moment. It’s so, so hard.

    ANYWAY. I also had a 2 1/2 year-old at the time. We just told her that Cleo went to heaven. (Of course, your personal beliefs come in to play here.) Cleo had been throwing up all over the house so my daughter knew she was sick. But I made sure to stress that there are different types of sicknesses, and just because you’re sick doesn’t mean you will die.

    THEN after Cleo died, our other dog Eddie began having severe panic attacks. Shredding our carpet & couch, breaking down doors, clawing at our faces in the night, pressing her body in to us, shaking, etc. Every day and night. It was unlivable. We maxed out on her sedatives and they stopped prescribing them. We borrowed dogs to come stay with us so she wouldn’t be lonely. It kept happening. We had to resort to closing her in the laundry room at night so we could sleep. Then one morning – 3 months after Cleo died – I woke up and she had crawled behind the dryer and died there. So we wrapped her up before my daughter woke up and put her in the car and took her to the vet.

    Now my daughter is almost 4 and she still talks about them a lot, but she was never really sad about it. She took it all very matter-of-factly.

  5. Chris

    Ok, here goes. Our previous dog had cancer. An inoperable mass around her intestines. It took us 3k to find that out. She was 9 with a life expectancy of 12-15. Our options were, not wake her from the operation that told us it was inoperable (no), try chemo and it may give us 6 more months (spoiler, it didn’t), or do nothing except try to keep her comfortable. We opted for chemo and she passed away 3 months later. We were paying off the vet bill after she was gone. It sucked.

    A year and a half ago, one of our 15 yr old cats started having kidney problems, we ended up hospitalizing her for a weekend to see if it could help her. It did, temporarily, but ultimately we lost her about 3 weeks later. We were pating of her $1500 vet bill months after she died.

    This past March, her sister cat started having issues with her kidneys as well. Offered to hospitalize her to see if it would help and we declined. Instead, I took her home and loved on her all weekend. Then I took her in and had her euthanized. I couldn’t put her through what her sister had gone through.

    It sounds like you have a good vet who will help you decide what is best for him right now. Penelope will be sad, and will probably ask about him when he is gone, but it has been my experience that kids bounce back much easier than us responsible adults do from these things. It is truly the worst part of being a pet owner. My heart goes out to you, whatever decisions you have to make.

  6. Pink Herring

    Oh, man. I’m so sorry about Brinkley. Making decisions for pets has an extra layer of terribleness, because like you said, they don’t know what’s going on, and even if they did, they can’t talk. And with people you kind of just assume (in this country, anyway) that you do whatever is possible to prolong life… but with a pet you do have to weigh that against the (often staggering) financial implications and that just feels… gross. But you have to. Ugh. I’m terribly sorry. Why can’t pets live forever?

  7. squandra

    I’m so sorry about Brinkley. I expect to be absolutely incapable, as well, and OH, I just hope it’s as painless as possible for him.

    And that’s the one little tidbit I can offer by way of psuedo-experience: I know owners who said the euthanasia process itself was totally painless and peaceful and really a blessing, when it was time … and owners who said their dog was scared and in pain and seemed to know what was happening and it was awful.

    So: there are different ways, and/or there are things that make a difference, and I don’t know what they are, exactly, and maybe it also depends on the dog, but I know I was so glad to learn that those differences exist so that I can ask many, many questions when the time comes, to try and figure out what the difference is and what I can possibly do to try to make sure it’s the peaceful version for my pups. And I thought you might be glad to learn that, too, if you didn’t already know.

    Sending good thoughts to you guys. That we can choose the timing is, I think, ultimately a good thing for our pets, but man, it is so, so hard on us.

  8. Jane

    SNAPCHAT. My son actually friended me on Snapchat so he could send me funny videos from his summer theater job and I literally could not figure out how to even open it. He was dismissive and said “It’s just like any photo/video app, Mom.” I’m like IF IT WAS WHY ARE YOU YOUTHS ALL OVER IT. Fuckin snapchat.

    I’m sorry about the doggie. We put an old cat to sleep because she had bladder stones and it was going to cost $2000 to remove them and then they said they’d probably come back and I know I made the responsible fiduciary decision but I still feel like we killed her. um, maybe that didn’t help.

  9. Melissa

    I do not even know what a turkish towel is. I’m not sure what that says about me.

    Dogs. Gah. We had a 12 year old shih tzu who developed internal bleeding (after a surgery, so we blame the previous vet, but is pointless to blame anyone now, so…). We took her in, and they gave us options, not cheap, but not terrible, but also indicated that it’d likely reoccur and we didn’t want her to suffer. So we told the girls (they were 3 and 8 at the time), had them pet her and love her and say goodbye, and then we both took her into put her down. It was the worst thing ever. I agree with another commenter, you’ll know when it’s time, or when you’ve reached the point where the cost+suffering just isn’t worth it.

    I am 38. I work full time as a Web Developer. I too am tech savvy, and yet I cannot understand tumblr or snapchat either. Honestly, it took me forever to figure out Target Cartwheel. I blame the software, i just assume Tumblr and SnapChat are stupid – not me :)

  10. Swistle

    I had to hand the store clerk my phone and let HER figure out how to get the TEXTED COUPON off of it, because I couldn’t. COULDN’T. I really tried. I wanted to save trees. I couldn’t do it. From now on, I’m printing out the coupons on slices of dead tree; that is as tech as I get.

    Okay. I have three sad pet-decision stories. In each case, I thought, “This is NUTS that I have the power to make a decision to END SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE. This is NOT RIGHT. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW??” The only reassuring thing I can say is that in each case, LATER I felt okay about it. Like, at the time I thought “THIS IS NUTS” and later I felt like, “Well, these decisions have to be made sometimes, and I made them, and of course it was sad.”

    1. My cat Mouse. She got older and older. Thinner and thinner: from 12 pounds down to finally 4.5 pounds. The vet was cautioning us that it might be time to Make a Decision, but nothing was particularly WRONG except that she was no longer using her litter box and was instead using our whole house, and we had extra bedding for every bed because we kept having to wash all of it, and we bought cat-stink remover by the gallon, and all that stuff seemed crazier AFTER than it seemed DURING. Then she got a puffy place on her face, and the vet said it was a tumor and that we coullllllld pursue it but….. I mean, the cat was already old and frail and peeing all over the house. So we made an appointment, and it felt surreal, and then it was over. That one was the easiest of the three. If anything, later I wished I’d done it sooner.

    2. My cat George. He kept coughing. Finally I took him in and the vet said he had congestive heart failure and also some other thing I forget. The problem was that treating one of the things would make the other worse, in both cases. She said the only thing to do was to wait until he seemed like he was no longer okay with all the coughing. So I had to CHOOSE. I had to CHOOSE based on what I IMAGINED was a cat’s quality of life. I waited until he was having many long coughing fits every day, and seemed like he was distressed at the end of them—like he couldn’t breathe, and was aware of that. Then I made the appointment. I walked into the vet’s office with him feeling like I was depriving him of more good years. Later I felt like maybe I made him suffer too long. It’s just so hard to figure out.

    3. The hardest one was my cat Oliver. He was 16 but in good condition: seemed like a youngish cat still. He got hit by a car, and his leg was shattered. The vet gave us three choices. We could pay $1500 (more if things didn’t go well with the operation) and have the leg amputated; then he would need to be an indoor cat for the rest of his life. I knew this would be miserable for him: he was very Lion of the Jungle. We could pay $5000 and ATTEMPT to have the leg fixed. It might fail, but it might work. There’d be a lot of recuperation and follow-up stuff. It could go higher than the $5000. Or we could pay $100 and have him put to sleep. This was the worst of the three cat decisions. We didn’t have $5000—but in theory, I mean if it were to save one of our children, we COULD have come up with it. I wasn’t even sure it was RIGHT to pay $5000 for an animal, even a dearly beloved one. If he were 2 years old, maybe. But he was 16! But in such good shape still: perfectly healthy. I paid $100 and had him put to sleep. That was really hard. But all the choices were bad, and I still had to pick one of them. It was hard.

  11. Imalinata

    I’m so sorry about Brinkley. :( We just had to take my cat into the vet last month when she stopped eating and were expecting to have to make the same choice. So far she appears to be better and it wasn’t as bad as I thought prior to diagnosis, but since she’s my cat, I was expecting to have to make the decision to put her down over spending thousands of dollars on a seriously ill 14 year old cat.

    Look up the book, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney. It’s about a child’s cat dying and goes in a bit about it without getting too deep/serious/preachy, but acknowledging that it sucks and is sad.

    My SIL had their dog diagnosed with bone cancer a few years ago. The cancer vet said that amputation would probably give them at least another year of good quality of life so they went ahead and had it done (yay for pet insurance). Then the dog had to be put down 3 months post surgery. She just never recovered from the surgery and wasn’t well. Even the vet was surprised because most dogs do bounce back.

    Knowing Brinkley is a golden and he’s already at theoretical max age, I probably wouldn’t have surgery done – especially since his hips aren’t good. Because at best case scenario, you might be looking at 2 years of quality time for however many thousands of dollars it will cost (on top of the thousands already spent). It’s shitty and it sucks and I feel like an asshole for saying that, but I’d keep him comfortable, spoil him terribly, and watch for when it’s time.

  12. Leigh

    I have lurked for years, loving your blog.

    Finally delurking to say that a few years back we had three very-old-for-their-size dogs: a 65 lb 14 year old, 100 lb 13 year old and a 75 lb 15 year old. (Our vet seriously encouraged us to write to the dog food company we used.) They were our dogs from college, two mine, one my husband’s. We also had a 2 1/2 year old daughter at the time.

    To try and shorten this story – the 14 year old developed a mass on his spine, pressing the nerves to the point where he lost all control from the shoulder down. Our first priority was pain management at any cost while we figured out our options. The new vet at our usual office strongly suggested an ($6,000) MRI, since the mass did not show on an x-ray. The MRI would tell us whether the tumor was operable. If it was, that was another 10k, just to get started. Before we even considered the cost, we really looked at the toll the stress of the multiple vet visits, tests, surgery and extensive recovery time would take on our guy. We decided at 14 there was no way we would put him through that. The vet went ballistic that we were turning down the MRI. But what was the sense if we knew we wouldn’t operate? We decided on a course of steroids to see if it would even make a difference. It did. For a few days, he was able to somewhat walk, but my good friend who had lived with this dog for 5 years, and who was also a vet tech, visited and said something that rang true. She said the improvement wasn’t enough if he couldn’t “be a dog”. If he had lost the physical ability to do what dogs do, we had to look at that. That was the first step toward coming to the realization of how sick he was, that we weren’t making all this up. That was one of the hardest things for us, was that there didn’t seem to be any kind of bar to judge against. No, if this, then do that type of guide. We eventually did two rounds of steroids, just to see, but even that stopped working. We tried to pick a time to go have him euthanized, but it never felt right. I won’t go into all the details, but once he lost a certain measure of dignity, that was the tell for us. We enjoyed a long holiday weekend together at home with all six of us, just really spoiling him and then it was time.

    As soon as we decided not to operate, we started talking about the dog being sick while our daughter was around. We involved her somewhat in his care, explaining that he was very, very sick and we didn’t know what might happen. We expected my daughter to notice he was gone right away. It was our plan, that when she did, we would just answer her questions, letting her guide the conversation. She was younger than yours, so it was all going to be pretty simple. We’d tell her that sometimes when people and animals are really sick, doctors can’t fix them and they die. Then I’d tell her what I believe happens in the afterlife, and my husband would tell her what he believes, and we’d also share what other families (ie religions) believe. She ended up not noticing for days and days, and finally we had to bring it up. She was sad for about a week on and off, but was mostly very curious about all the processes. She was very sad that she didn’t get to see him dead. We protected her from that. Looking back, if she were older, I think I would have let her see. I think it would have helped answer some of her questions.

    The next dog died suddenly and the last dog was another one where we had to decide. It never stops being awful, but for me, being able to love and nurse the first dog in his last days made it easier afterward. I still have guilt 4 years later that I missed something with the dog that died suddenly.

    I’m not sure you are there yet, but will mention we had at-home euthanasia for our last who lived to be almost 17. It was as good as these things can be. If it’s an option for you when the time comes, I recommend it.

    I’m so sorry you are dealing with this and will be thinking of you and your dogs, waiting for any updates you care to share.

  13. K

    I have no pet stories, but, for what it’s worth; I look at Taco and get kind of scared about having to put her down one day. She is only four and VERY FEISTY, but it strikes fear in my heart because we’re all pretty keen on her now and oh my gosh she’s getting older by the day. What will I tell the kids?!

    I am very sorry about Brinkley and I will be thinking about you on Monday.

  14. shin ae

    Brinkley. Ugh, I’m sorry. I really am. I’ve never been able to have a dog, and have always wanted one. I wanted to tell you he’s so beautiful, and how much I’ve enjoyed reading all about him over these years, and what a good dog owner I think you are.

    Keeping in mind my inexperience, if it was me, I think I would not do the surgery, would give him as much painkiller as he needed/was okay to give, and let it ride until it felt like “time.” Of course I have no idea what “time” feels like, but I would hope I’d know. Who knows how that’d turn out.

    With my kids, I think I’d tell them, because that’s how I am, for better or for worse. I know how we’ve dealt with death, talking about it openly and how it happens to all of us sometime, so I think we’d continue to deal with it that way. Although, again, I’ve never been in that situation with a pet so I can’t say for sure from experience.

    Technology. That’s a funny one. I’m 39, and tumblr is something I can’t quite figure out entirely. Snapchat, I haven’t even tried. I did see a younger person talking about starting to use snapchat and she said someone showed her how to do it. I wonder how much stuff we “figured out” better when we were younger because someone showed us the basics? I mean, in your example with the job training, someone showed it to you, right? You weren’t sitting alone in a room and just figured it out, someone showed you a little something about it and you were able to go from there? At least, that’s how your story sounded to me. But that’s kind of what we’re doing with tumblr and snapchat (okay, I’m not doing that with snapchat, but you are)–sitting alone in a room and trying to figure it out. Or at least, that’s how I’m trying to figure it out.

  15. Lawyerish

    I’m typing on my phone so I can’t write the whole thing now but I wanted to say I’m sorry about Brinkley and I have a lot to say about how everything went down with Miles when he died in April, including the part about Felicity being there when it happened. In short, in a strange way it was really good for her bc it wasn’t abstract like he was just gone one day. She has been so thoughtful about his death and her grief. But I have much more thoughts about all of it. I will try to comment fully tomorrow. Love to you.

  16. Delicia

    I sadly do not have advice re: Turkish towels, other than to say I am suspicious of thin towels, regardless of their supposed effectiveness. Plus, I just LIKE the feel of plush thick towels, but that’s my own preference.

    As to Brinkley, I am very sorry. :( I am worried that I’ll soon be facing a similar-ish situation. She’s 14 and only has 3 teeth due to gum disease years ago, and I can see signs of age creeping up on her. If it gets to that there’s no way I can afford any huge outlay of money so the best I can hope for is keep her comfortable as long as possible. I’m a firm believer in preparing kids for stuff if you can, it lets them come to terms with it, and also say goodbye. My daughter’s cat died abruptly a little over a year ago and it was heart-rending for her.

    As to technology adaptation, I’m pretty geeky, and I just *now* started to mess around with Instagram, and a tiny bit with Snapchat, but I still can’t figure out stuff with them half the time and have to ask my teenage daughter or friend that’s been using them longer. I only browse Tumblr because it scares me.

  17. sarahbeanne

    Hi. Long time Twitter reader, perhaps I’ve commented before? Anyway, I have only had the occasional small pet, but my husband is from a family of pet lovers and one of the reasons we don’t currently have one is because he knows how sad it is when they are gone. Our son is 5 and we think he’s the same way – he adopted a snail, named him Little, sang to him. Then he died and it was very sad. The book Lifetimes is a good explanation for kids this age, and may bring some comfort. We all have a start and an end and in the middle is our lifetime.
    I have no experience w Turkish towels.
    My MOTHER taught me snapchat so I could keep up with my 17 year old brother. I guess she does that with him. It’s fine, but damn, yeah. Confusing. I like instagram better so BAH.

  18. Katie

    I’m so sorry about Brinkley. We went through something similar in May with our older cat. She went from healthy to not so healthy and then we had to put her down within a week. We didn’t have thousands of dollars to throw at tests and surgeries so we did all the bloodwork and the vet basically said that we could pay thousands for a liver biopsy, but only if we were willing to spend thousands more on surgery. And even then, we should have low expectations. We put her down and it was terrible.

    Eli asked about her the next day and it was like a knife to my heart. I made sure to not use the words sick or old because I don’t want him to think that everytime he’s sick he’ll go away or that his older relatives are dying. I told him that she lived a good life, loved us very much and now she went to live with God. He asked why (because it’s his favorite word) and I stumbled on a bit about how it was her time and she was ready and then he moved on. I won’t lie, it’s awful. Explaining the death of a beloved animal is indescribably challenging but I don’t think there’s any wrong way to do it if it jives with your family’s faith and values.

    I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this.

  19. Julia

    Ok here’s what I think about the Tumblr/Snapchat/new technology stuffs thing. If you really loooooove one of these apps and you’re absolutely dying to use them I would suggest watching YouTube tutorials. Watching another human being doing whatever it is that is confusing me is always helpful. If that doesn’t help, simply start at the most basic level: download the app and create a profile. That is what most of these apps require, then just creep on people and see how they do it and eventually you might get. Just remind yourself that you don’t have to understand ABSOLUTELY everything about the app. Someone might post something helpful, or you’ll slowly pick it up on your own. Relax. You got this. Lastly, if none of that works it’s totally chill, it’s not for you. Right now I’m I my mid-twenties and I get how you feel. I got snapchat, I didn’t really understand it for a while and then when I finally, finally did I still didn’t get it. Why? Because it was dumb to me and a completely useless app, it’s like a really worthless Instagram. I don’t understand why anyone uses it, so I just deleted it. It was definitely not for me and though I might miss a few things from people I like to follow on everything else it’s totally ok. I’d rather do that than get agitated everytime I go on that stupid app and feel like I’m wasting my time. (ps Tumblr is basically a blog site but people don’t blog a lot of words) I, like you, hate not /getting/ it right away. It doesn’t matter what “it” is I just hate not understanding, but I’ve learned that the best way, for me, to deal with that is to realize that I’ll never know everything and that’s completwly ok. Instead of knowing everything, I get to discover cool new things that challenge me and exasperate me and I love it now. It’s kind of humbling but it’s a better way to live life. It might be mindless ramblings that you can ignore but I hope it helps in some minuscule way. Also, I’m so sorry about Brinkley, he looks like he’s an amazing pet but at least you can rest with the fact that you guys took such great care of him.

  20. Natalie

    I only follow 3 blogs, yours, Amalah, and Swistle, and I seem to remember somebody saying Turkish towels were stupid. I don’t have personal experience.

    I’m sorry about Brinkley. We have been through it twice with our cats, our first babies together. I will second what somebody else said, there is a time when you know you have done enough and they are ready. Be there with him and know you gave him the best. We did not have kids at the time, but I think I would start introducing the idea of doggy heaven and Brinkley not being around, but not spell it out. Although Penny seems so smart she might figure it out immediately.

    Re number three. I get Twitter and almost nobody I know in person gets Twitter. So I consider myself superior and yet I have no idea how snapchat works at all. I thought Instagram was a photo editing app. So I get you. I work on a computer all day in web based databases and Excel. I can make pivot tables and vlookups. Cannot tumblr.

  21. Lara

    Ugh I am SO sorry about Brinkley. I wasn’t part of the decision making team when Dexter’s time came, but A and I had discussed it and I’d been through it with my dog Mollie about 15 years ago (holy crap, it’s been that long?)

    So what we tried to keep in mind when making the decision was what was best for the dog, not for us. Sure, we could keep throwing money at the vet, but Mollie was 13 and in some ways we already felt at bit guilty about keeping on with treatment. She had kidney problems and would collapse and then get treatment and be fine and we would be SHE’S FINE SHE’S FINE and you know. It wasn’t pleasant for her. So we decided that yes, we would pay (just about) anything to keep her around, but it wasn’t fair to her anymore. That’s what *helped* us make the decision. It was still awful. But we didn’t want to put her through the surgery when the best case scenario was another three to six months, and an unknown quality of life. It helped us to ease our minds that it wasn’t a financial decision.

    I’ll be thinking about you and Brinkley on Monday. I hope you get good news. With Dex, the life expectancy for his breed (Rhodesian Ridgeback) is about 9 – 10 years. He lived 12. It’s totally possible for them to outlive the high end number.)

    I’m typing this on my phone so I’m not going back to re-read. Hope it makes sense/pls ignore typos etc.

  22. Worker Bee

    I’m so sorry about Brinkley! I know how difficult it is to have an ill pet and know you will have to make decisions about care. We had a dog around the same age with a suspected liver mass. We had the ultrasound and the location of the mass made it inoperable. We kept our dog comfortable and she passed on without assistance. We’ve also had to go the euthanasia route with another terminal dog. In that case, we knew he was no longer comfortable and had stopped eating. We knew it was best to let him go. Sometimes it is easy to see that it is time to let go and other times it is not as clear. The best question we’ve asked ourselves was whether we were continuing treatment/meds for our benefit or the dog’s benefit. If the treatment will cause pain and is unlikely to be successful, it’s hard to imagine it is what is best for the animal. It’s a heart wrenching decision. I will pray for wisdom and comfort for you and your family. Our son has not been at an age to understand losing a dog and I dread the day we have to deal with that situation. Our dogs are his best friends and I know my pain of losing one will be magnified by seeing the hurt he will face. Again, I am so sorry you are going through this! I hope the news turns out to be positive.

  23. Liz

    My childhood dog Sandy was a golden retriever and at the age of 10 we discovered she had cancer. It was bad and we only found out about it after she got under our porch and wouldn’t come out. She was a big dog, 120 pounds and my dad had to drag her out and carry her to the car. They offered to amputate her legs to extend her life 6 months. We decided it was not worth putting her through the pain of surgery and losing her legs for a short poor existence. My mom, my dad, brothers and myself are all crammed in this exam room while Sandy is laboriously breathing on the floor and the nurse says, “I’ll go get the euthanasia.” And that is the moment I realized that all those years in school the teachers were not saying, “youth in Asia”. I’m serious. I was 22 years old. I remember hearing that word in association with assisted suicide, but I never made the connection. I attended 6 years of higher education. All those years of wondering what was so wrong with the kids in Asia gone in an instant. I started laughing and crying, my parents thought I was losing my mind. One of the worst experiences, but also hilarious.

    Maggie Reply:

    Oh thank dog I’m not alone. I have a very clear memory of being in 10th grade and listening to some informative speech one of the seniors gave at an assembly about Youth In Aisa. For a solid 30 minutes I could not figure out why she was talking about assisted suicide in relation to young people half way across the world. I was well into college before I clued in. Embarrassing.

  24. Manda

    First of all, I am so sorry about Brinkley. It sucks when they get old and sick. It sucks to have to go through that was such a beloved pet. I’ve been through it twice in the last two years. As far as talking to Penny about it I would start mentioning here here or there that Brinkley might not have much time left. You don’t have to going to a lot of detail but you can tell her that he sick and that he’s old and that soon he won’t be with you guys anymore. I feel it’s best to be honest with your kid about it, although there’s no real way to prepare them for it. I do think it’s nice to give them a little heads up and just give them a little time to get used to the idea before it actually happens. Children at that age don’t understand death as permanent yet. It’s so hard. My son still asks when Bubba is coming back home from being sick in Heaven. :( you have my sympathy and if you need to talk about it more you know where to find me. So sorry about this. Love you.

  25. Liz

    Sigh… First Chuck, then Brinkly?? I can only handle so much today. I never had a dog, always only had cat. Had a cat that was 17 yrs old that we had to let her go 2 yrs ago, she was diagnosed with cancer, even with medication, the vet gave her only extra few months. Still bring tears to my eyes whenever I think of her.

  26. Sister

    I’ve got to disagree with the “you’ll know when it’s time” comments about Brinkley. You might know when it’s time, but you also might not.

    When Jake got sick, it was VERY sudden. We knew he was sick, so we made an appointment – an appointment to get him medication to make him better. He was only 13 with a lifespan of 16+, so it’s possible that played a part in our thinking, but he really just had not been sick. He just WAS one day.

    So anyway, all of the things happened, all in one day. X-rays and bloodwork and rushing to the emergency vet. A $5,000 invasive surgery (with an eight day hospital stay in Cornell – not close to home) could have possibly indicated what was wrong – but most likely not, and it wouldn’t fix anything. What it came down to was Jake was still completely acting like Jake, with a small hint of something wrong. Yet he was on the brink of death. We thought we could take him home for a few days and spoil him and throw him a party and let everyone come to say goodbye. But no, because he would most likely die, and it would be a terrible death. He’d go into respitory failure and we wouldn’t be able to help him.

    We knew Jake, and we knew him really well. We had no idea it was time. Sometimes you just DON’T because they aren’t showing it. Make your vet tell you his honest opinion and … Yeah you already know all that.

    So we made the decision, very suddenly, and it was the goddamn worst as I’m sure you remember. But we had just enough time to call Mom, and Chuck’s mom, and they got to come be with him and hold him and give him treats. And mom brought his favorite blanket from her house and we wrapped him in it.

    I’m not sure how Pen will handle it, but I know Candy (she spent a lot of time with him) wanted to talk through it a lot to me. “You miss Jake very much and he was very special to you. He was sick and you had to bring him to the doctor to get a shot and then he died.” Over and over and over. But that was also six months ago and Candy and Pen are completely different kids that are also pretty different than they were six months ago.

    Anyway. I miss my dog every single day, and sometimes it’s still really hard to handle. Reading these comments was tough. I’m really sorry you’re going to have to go through this and I wish I had some solid advice. Six months down the road, all I can really say is I don’t cry every day. But he’s in my thoughts constantly.

  27. Tric

    On towels, I do not have Turkish Towels, but I do have some similar sounding energy-efficient-don’t-take-as-long-to-dry-in-drier towels and I find them sub-par. One characteristic of towels that is important to me is fluff levels, these fail miserably on that front. Also the entire point of a towel is to have long fibers which soak up water through capillary action. Shorter fibers = shorter space in which to absorb water = less effective towels. I am often left soggy after I shower with these, but they are suitable for trying off my toddler on account of him having less surface area to dry. When one part of the towel is soaked, I can switch to a different part of the towel and not run out of towel parts before her is dried off.

    On dogs- I’m so sorry to hear about Brinkley. I love and grew up with dogs (we always had two at a time) and my husband is a complete animal lover, but knowing that I will one day need to make a decision about keeping a dog alive and spending thousands of dollars or euthanizing a family member makes me not want to get one. Anyway, in my lifetime I had three dogs die, two completely unexpectedly and one that we put to sleep. The one we had to put down was the hardest by far. It was a very clear cut decision though. She had a stroke in the night and was laying on the floor of our kitchen crying but couldn’t walk. None of that is particularly useful but, it sucks it, sucks, it sucks.

  28. Lawyerish

    Our dog Miles had a life expectancy of up to 15 years, so of course I assumed he’d go all the way to 15. For most of his life he had some irritable bowel issues; once a month or every other month, he’d have an upset stomach for a few days but then it would go away, sometimes with medication and sometimes on its own.

    Last summer, after he turned 11, he had a prolonged episode and we took him to the vet to get him his usual pills. This time, they did bloodwork and everything looked ok, except one slightly elevated thing — I don’t remember what it was. Anyway, the vet said we could stay the course or we could do a lot of very expensive diagnostic work that might reveal some underlying cause. But his energy was good and he generally seemed fine other than these periodic bouts. So we opted out of the thousands of dollars of tests. He did seem to be less interested in long walks but this seemed normal for his age.

    This past winter (which was always a hard time of year for him), he had more episodes and started to be unable to keep weight on — which again, was something we’d seen in the past, but this time he just never quite got back to normal weight. His energy was still about the same. As with any senior dog, he slept more and he had some issues with incontinence. He loved seeing other dogs and people and went spryly for his short walks. We just figured it was all normal aging and that we’d still have a few years with him.

    So anyway, then in late April, a month shy of his 12th birthday, one day he died. I wrote the whole story on my blog, but in short, Felicity and i came home and he couldn’t move, and we took him to the vet and they said he had a tumor that was bleeding internally and he was going into arrest. They kept him comfortable but then gave him the medicine to stop his heart after he stopped breathing. We said goodbye and it was as horrible as one can imagine, but in the end I am glad Felicity was there. She got to hear the doctor’s very gentle explanations of what was happening, and she understood that he was going to die. She got to kiss him and love him before he was gone and then afterward (sounds morbid, but we saw his body afterward and hugged him before they took him away).

    In terms of the medical aspects of it: if we’d gotten a diagnosis last year after spending a ton on tests, maybe we would have found out he had a cancerous tumor. We would then have been faced with the terrible decisions flowing from that. We would not have done chemo, because from talking to vets I am close with, given his age and everything else, that would have been more for us than for him and it would have been painful and anxiety-inducing for him (going to and from the animal hospital instead of just being home in his cozy bed all the time, etc). Or we would have been faced with trying to figure out when to have him put to sleep, and it’s possible we would have put him down before he was ready. We could have lost almost a whole year with him if we had had him euthanized last summer.

    As it happened, when his time came, in our case it was unambiguous. I don’t think he was suffering before that, but of course I could be deluding myself. Obviously with so many pets, it doesn’t happen this way, and the decision really does have to be made. And if the decline is going to be terrible for the dog, rather than sudden and swift, then I know it isn’t better for them to live longer.

    So I don’t know, I hope that there are clear signs that help you figure out what to do, and I send you all the love and support because this is just so terrible and sad for all of you. XOXO

  29. Wendy

    I am so sorry about Brinkley, and I completely understand. We went through that with our cat, Sugar, after spending over $1,200 on surgery (which we were glad we spent — it gave us another 4+ years with him). He ended up getting an unrelated cancer and we had to have him put to sleep — could not afford to treat it, even if it was treatable.

    Our kids were older though. If they had been Penny’s age, I would have waited until the end to say something; neither could understand ‘the future’ very well and would bug me incessantly about things I mentioned we would do sometime in the future. I learned to keep my mouth shut until right before the actual time.

    And #3 – YES. I turn 51 next month, and always worked in offices. I was the one who trained the ‘old ladies’ and did all the computery stuff for my bosses. They would freak out because I didn’t even take notes — I just watched and remembered how to do stuff.

    Now? Ha. My son (25) told me set up Snapchat the other night so he could give me a video tour of his new apartment in Chicago (I’m in Michigan). I was completely confused and it took forever to actually get it to work. The next day my husband downloaded it, we read a tutorial and practiced, and it still confuses us.

    Yesterday I sent my son a Snapchat photo of a chicken (they sell chicks in the farm stores here) — I meant to caption it and then it just sent and now I’m sure he thinks I am a crazy old lady. :)

  30. Paula

    Oh Brinkley.

    We lost one of our beloved pets last year. Simon got sick unexpectedly and went downhill quickly. Our vet referred us to a specialist who ran additional tests. The final diagnosis was for (an additional) $8,000, MAYBE they could help him. No promises as to quality of life, possibly the stress of constant vet visits, etc. We asked that he be made comfortable and brought him home while we made our decision. Ultimately, we decided to have him put down. What helped tremendously was after all was said and done, we received notes from both our vet and the specialist saying they understood our pain and that we had made a difficult decision but it was the humane thing to do. Sometimes doing the humane thing hurts. Our Simon had a wonderful life with us that was cut too short. We still miss him.

  31. Rayne of Terror

    I’ve put down 4 cats over the years, 2 of which were extremely beloved prior to children cats. Only 1 of those was an obvious situation where the vet said, terminal, nothing can be done, the end is now. The other three I had to bite the bullet and decide when it was too much for me. I draw the line at not reliably using the litter box. We had to sell a house with cat urine smells once and I won’t keep an animal who is ruining my house/carpet/walls now.

  32. Loopyseven

    I don’t comment much, but I’m glad you’re back to writing somewhat regularly.

    We had to put our dog down about a month ago. She was diagnosed with lymphoma and 6 days later was yelping in pain when getting up from laying down, lots of panting. A friend who is a vet tech had told us to pick something that she just loved doing. And when she didn’t want to do it anymore, it was time. Well, Friday afternoon she didn’t want to go for a walk. Didn’t even get to the house next door before she turned around and led my husband back to our house. Saturday we could tell she was in pain and Sunday morning we took her to a neighbor/vet’s house, laid by a fountain in her yard, and let her go. We were recommended this book (http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Heaven-Cynthia-Rylant/dp/0590417010) for our 2.5 year old and it was perfect (if you believe in heaven). We just told him she had to go live in doggy heaven. He asked random questions – did we take her there, will daddy bring her back, etc but for the most part accepted at face value that she went to go live in dog heaven. At some point when he’s older I’m sure he’ll understand the concept of death and put 2+2 together, but for now, we didn’t think we needed him thinking if you get old or sick you go away. He lights up when he sees pictures of her, and wants to pee in the yard “like Autumn”. And once, he asked for her water dish when he wanted to splash. We just tell him it’s okay to miss her and she is happy in dog heaven and does he want to read the book again.
    Both my husband and myself felt a sense of relief when it was done. It was such a rough week and we are happy it was short. And we could have pursued chemo, but it would have bought us a month or two at the most and she would have been uncomfortable during treatment, it’s still chemo. She was 9.5 in a breed with an average life expectancy of 8-10. We may have made a different decision about pursuing treatment if she’d been younger. And we are glad it was fast because it didn’t become “a thing” to our 2.5 year old. She faded so quickly and then she was gone. We did have to be careful that last week because she did get a little snippy (her spleen was about 20x its normal size – I’m sure she was so uncomfortable) and had less tolerance for a toddler’s shenanigans than she normally did.

  33. Christen

    Re: Brinkley…I am so very sorry that you’re having to go through this. As someone who has grown up with multiple family pets and is currently obsessed with the dog she also inherited upon marriage I feel your pain. Been there and also currently dreading the day, if it comes to that, we have to make a decision about our sweet girl.

    Unfortunately, it seems that the cost of being the beneficiary of their unconditional love and companionship and comfort is having to be the one to make the shitty calls at the end and make sure the end is as dignified and painless as possible. What call to make is ultimately up to you and any vet worth anything should be able to answer your questions thoroughly and put you at ease (as much ease as you can be in). Our family has definitely gone to the “waited too long, should have maybe put an end to this a week ago” but hindsight, you know?

    As far as explaining this to a child…I would honestly answer her questions, if any. When my brother was little, the dog had a seizure in front of him and my stepmom and he asked “Is she goignt o die?” My stepmom answered, “She is one day, and that day could be soon, but for now we’re taking care of her and giving her lots of love.” It didn’t freak him out as much as you’d think it would, and he would spend a lot of time just sitting on the floor petting her and speaking to her quietly. I think it teaches kids a lot of life, compassion, and dealing with hard stuff. You guys (obviously) know what information she is able to grasp without making her overly anxious but I would absolutely answer her questions. If anything, the whole “Brinkley isn’t feeling well and you know how we when we are sick? Well, for now we need to…” and follow it up with whatever instructions you feel are appropriate. Pet him a lot, or don’t. Give extra snuggles, or leave him alone to rest. I probably wouldn’t bring her to the vet’s office and if you think she should say goodbye, do it at home, but again: you know what you can handle. It might freak her out even more to see you guys so upset; I’m not a fan of shielding your kids from your emotions but this might be intense for a little one.

    Good luck to all of you!

  34. cindy w

    First, I am so, so sorry about Brinkley.

    Catie was 5 when we had to have our cat put to sleep. (My cat. My first cat who I rescued when I was still in college and I had her for 15 years and I loved that goddamn cat so much.) It was pretty traumatic for her, but keep in mind that in the 6 months prior: she got a baby sister, her parents split up, her dad moved 3,000 miles away, and we moved to a new house. THEN the cat she’d known and loved all of her life died, as a big ol’ cherry on that shit sundae. (I’m discounting Lucy’s experience here entirely, because she was 8 months old when the cat died, so it wasn’t exactly something she registered.)

    I don’t remember specifics leading up to it, I know we had at least a few conversations about how Teenie (the cat) was getting very old, and pretty soon she’d be going to Cat Heaven. I didn’t specifically tell her when or the method of how it would happen. I kept it vague on purpose.

    The actual euthanizing part I did while she was at daycare, then I picked her up and explained that Teenie had, in fact, gone to Cat Heaven that day. When she got home and the cat was gone, it still took a while for it to sink in.

    To be honest, she still sometimes cries that she misses Teenie, and it’s been over 3 years. But a lot of times it happens because she’s upset about something else, and the cat is the one grief she has a name for, if that makes sense. (Like, she can’t identify what it is exactly that she’s upset about, so she’ll say it’s the cat, when it has nothing whatsoever to do with the cat.)

    Basically, it sucks, and it’s hard, and I’m so so sorry.

  35. Maggie

    I’ve had pets most of my life so, unfortunately, I’ve also had to put a number of pets down. With one of the cats it was very clear – he suffered a stroke and couldn’t walk or breathe very well suddenly. It sucked. With two other cats and a dog it was much less clear and my husband and I kept going back and forth about whether it was time. With one of the cats we probably should have done it sooner but the others were probably about the right time, although it was hard to know. Regardless, in every case I feel that we made the right choice because all were old and sick and they needed to be at peace. Unfortunately, the only constant is that putting a pet down after having a kid who was old enough to love them and to miss them sucked exponentially worse than doing it before we had kids. We loved our pets so much and then to see that love and pain reflected in our kids was just so damned hard. At the time of our most recent pet death, Oldest was only 6 so we kept it very basic – cat was very sick, he was in pain, he died at the Vet. We didn’t explain putting him to sleep or anything like that. Even though my husband is a devout atheist, he was totally fine with telling Oldest that the cat went to cat heaven because that idea was very comforting to Oldest. Now Oldest is almost 13 so we’ll be more frank with him when one of our current pets gets to that point.

    As for technology I’m 45 but I work in an office so I’m on the computer all day with various programs. I stuck with learning blogging. I dug texting. I powered through twitter. I handled Instagram. And then, I just gave up with Tumblr and Snapchat. I don’t understand them at all. I don’t understand what they are for or why. They are like the term “on fleek” I’m never going to use it because I don’t know why it’s needed. Husband continues to be quite tech savvy and he is motivated to learn so I am going to leave it to him to deal with that stuff because Oldest is at an age when he’s going to start using it soon.

  36. Tina

    I have never had pets, so I have zero experience to offer in regard to anything like you’re currently experiencing… but I am truly sorry you’re having to go through it.

    I CAN, however, offer up an opinion on Turkish towels. I have several in the hand towel size, and they are EXCELLENT as bathroom hand towels. They dry super quickly, and are very absorbent – so, particularly in a guest bathroom (or just a frequently used bathroom of any kind), it’s nice to wash your hands and not have to deal with the whole “oh, yay, this hand towel is sopping wet and barely removing any moisture from my hands AT ALL!” bit. I intend to buy the bigger ones, but primarily for use at the beach/pool. I will likely give them a whirl at home post-showering, too (I do think I’ll miss the fluff factor of a regular towel, but we shall see). For my experience with them so far: RECOMMEND.

  37. Erica

    I registered a tumblr account and deleted it fifteen minutes later because it was very apparent that I was just going to flail around embarrassingly with my old-person incompetence. I WAS GENUINELY VERY BAFFLED. I have decided to gracefully leave Snapchat to the youths as well.

  38. swimmermom

    Here’s two things I learned from our late, great doggie’s long decline and eventual euthanasia. 1) Raw liver from the grocery store meat counter is budget-friendly, extremely appetizing to dogs who may be losing interest in eating, and a great way to get iron into them to counter the iron loss from hemangiosarcoma. 2) For me, it’s time to let them go when there’s hardly any flicker of interest in things that used to bring them joy. That, and when the dog “loses a certain measure of dignity” as a commenter above politely put it.

  39. Laura

    I had always been a cat person and then I married a dog person. We got our pup Quincy shortly after our wedding and he was awesome. Forward 9 years and he just wasn’t acting right. Took him to the vet and after the blood work, x-ray and ultrasound (and $1,600) we were told he had cancer, but they were not sure what kind. Our vet said the best thing to us, “He is a senior dog and to put him through surgery or anything invasive would be cruel and he would probably not wake up after a surgery anyways. We know he has cancer so let’s just keep him comfortable and happy.” (He was an Akita so 8-10 year life span) We took him home, told our kids he was sick and to be extra kind, feed him cottage cheese and lamb baby food and loved him. After about two months we could tell he was done so we told the kids he was ready to leave and we took him to the vet. We held him and cried as it happened. It’s never easy, but as a beloved member of our family we just wanted him to be loved and cared for his last days and not poked and prodded by a vet.

  40. Life of a Doctor's Wife

    I am so very sorry to hear about Brinkley’s poor health. I have nothing helpful to say about dealing with tough decisions or talking to kids, but man, I am so sorry you and your family – and sweet Brinkley – are going through this. Saying goodbye to a much loved family member is so hard and heartbreaking. May you have many wonderful, loving moments with him still to come.

  41. Kate

    Oh hey, look who opened her Feedly for the first time in ages…

    (1) I am so sorry about Brinkley’s declining health. I still get a massive lump in my throat when I think about Cassie, our pound puppy my Dad and I rescued when I was 8. She lived to the ripe old age of 15 (pretty crazy for a golden / collie mix!), and we all agonized about when to say when as her health worsened. But, as many have said, it did become clear when she was ready to say goodbye. It didn’t make the actual goodbye part any easier, but at least we felt good (poor word choice; maybe “at peace?” too trite?) about timing.

    (2) I am obsessed with my damn Turkish towels. They have not replaced all of our towels, but here’s where they’re golden:
    – at the pool / for travel: they are the biggest space savers ever; now I can actually fit other things in my pool bag!
    – for the kiddos
    – hand towels
    – body (BUT NOT HAIR) towels: mine are bath-sheet sized and so light and lovely and sometimes I just walk around the house in one and pretend I’m on an island somewhere wearing a caftan

    Definitely keep your fluffier towels on hand for sopping wet hair.

    Also! They get softer and more absorbent with every wash. Go Turkey!

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