Tough one- could use some advice

My 13 yr old golden retriever, Annie, looks like she is dying. She refused food today. Her breathing was labored, taking on a different tone, a deeper echo like sound. Maybe fluid? She is down in the basement and does not want to come up. Sometimes when she stands her back legs splay. For the last few weeks she has been dragging, panting heavily for no apparent reason. I suspect pain. When we took her to the cabin a few weeks ago, she could not make it up the hill and we had to drive down with the car to bring her back.

We have a vet appointment tomorrow (Thurs, 4:20pm).

We got Annie when my daughter was 10, and my son was 6. Now my daughter is in CA finishing up the 5th year of her architecture program, in the middle of exams, with her last assignment due Fri at midnight. She has an interview with a firm in San Fran on that Fri. This was my daughters dog. She brushed her, cared for her, had her sleep in her room. When she would FaceTime, she would want to see the dog (so I have proof you did not put my dog to sleep, she says).

I am really dreading this. My wife has some hope that it might be something like a bladder infection. Deep down I think it is more likely her time has come. My big fear is she will start to really suffer, and we will be stuck in a position of whether or not to talk to my daughter about it during her exam push, possibly distracting her, and likely ruining the graduation. We fly out next Thurs to CA for her graduation. I know that if I go to that vet, there is a real possibility that it may be time to put her down.

So here I am feeling a little emotional and having trouble seeing clearly the path forward with my daughter. Should I talk to her tomorrow before the vet apt? Or should I hold off? This is her time in the sun, with her graduation ahead, and job opportunities starting to come. My instinct is to call her, but my wife is really reluctant to do that.

Maybe you have some advice

I am so sorry you are going through this. Losing a pet is traumatic.

I’d say hold off telling your daughter anything until she has turned in that last paper and had the interview if you can. Even if the vet says to put Annie to sleep (which sounds like what is best for Annie), there is nothing your daughter can do. The vet may be able to give Annie something to get her through a couple days, but be prepared for a large bill if they keep Annie.

This is not going to be easy for your daughter and she will mourn. You need to be ready to support her. It sounds like your daughter knows Annie is old and is aware her time may be limited. She may also be upset that she wasn’t there for Annie, so let her know there was nothing she could have done.

It’s never easy losing a pet. Annie might rally for a few days, too. Maybe even longer. Try asking Annie if she can hold on until your daughter comes home. Dogs understand more than we give them credit for. Use simple words. No I’m not joking.


Aerythe is right on the money - wait until after everything to tell your daughter what happened. I know you are concerned about how she will be reacting to it - but sadly death is a part of life - I’m sure your daughter understands that, and that is what will help her get through it. That, and the comfort from her family in her difficult time. If you have pictures, or videos, of Annie - pass them on to your daughter. She might have leaky eyes when you do that, but that’s only because she will remember how much she loved Annie, and how much Annie loved her as well. And yes - definitely ask if she can hold out - dogs do understand us better than we think they do.

Everyone has the right of it here. Wait and see what the vet says. If your daughter has never lost any one or animal before this will be extra difficult, but just stay calm and decide anything after the vet visit.

Well my wife told her, and now we are dealing with it. She is lashing out with childish stuff like ‘you want to kill my dog to get a puppy’. We have the vet appointment today at 4:20.

Wish we had waited until after that vet apt, but I suppose this works as well. She is an adult and wanted the truth, and now she has it. Just wish she wouldn’t direct so much anger at us personally.

Dog wouldn’t eat this morning again. Sleeping most of the time. Took her outside and sat on lawnchair with her yesterday. Got her interested in the tennis ball, but when tossed, it just hit her muzzle and fell to the ground. Sometimes she wags when we pet. She tried to go up stairs, made it half way, my son carried her the rest. Seems really tired. Standing up is effort.

Likely we will all be in my daughter’s position soon. WE will all be in CA for her graduation, with the house sitter dealing with the dog, and dreading the call. Not sure how we might cope with ‘Annie is in a lot of pain’ when we are on the West Coast.

Well, that was unfortunate. I hope it doesn’t affect her end of semester work and that she throws herself into it as a distraction.

Please keep us posted as to what the vet says today.

I’m not a “pet” person, but I’m sorry for how difficult this must be!

Just wanted to say how sorry I am that you and your family are going through this and I’m thinking of you all.


Update- good news

The vet said it might be Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme Disease. She had Lyme before, and I hear it can come back.

Vet gave us an antibiotic to treat both Rocky + Lyme, and did it immediately since we had no time to wait on costly tests. She also gave her a prescription for anti-inflammatory meds, which would help with the pain.

We started that on Friday. Yesterday the dog was going up and down stairs again, eating her food again, muscling our other dog off of food again. She still is weak and has some trouble, but there is definite improvement.

Total vet bill was cheapest ever, around $160.

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Oh that’s wonderful news!!! :grin:


This is fabulous news!!! With a dog that old it can go either way and I am thrilled she is rallying. :slight_smile: