Running in the sky
July 1, 2010 2:52 PM   Subscribe

My friend's dog, who is like a son to her, has cancer. Vet said the dog has a few weeks. What can we do to make his last days memorable for him and his mom?

A close friend just discovered that one of her two dogs (whom she considers her kids) has cancer and only a few more weeks to live. She's devastated but has been spending all her free time with him, holding him, and giving him lots of treats.

Is there anything else that you can think of/recommend/have done that would make the next few weeks more memorable for both my friend and her dog? I don't believe she can take a long vacation but she does have two days off every week (not weekends). It doesn't matter if it's something that she can do with her dog or something I can do for both of them. (I'd like to keep the spending below $100 if possible)
posted by jstarlee to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Take the dog to places it has lived or places where it's had a good time ... Parks, walking paths, someone's yard, etc. Take it around other dogs who won't be aggressive. Spend lots of time petting it, talking to it, feeding it its favorite foods. Take it for rides in the car.
posted by jayder at 3:03 PM on July 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

I meant "places it has loved" ...
posted by jayder at 3:03 PM on July 1, 2010

Best answer: God, that sucks - I'm so sorry for your friend.

I have a two part answer. First, in the immediate term, she can spoil the dog. Park walks, beach romps, mud holes, endless fetch, all the steak he can eat -- dogs are gratifyingly easy to make happy, which is one of their wonderful gifts.

She might also consider getting a photographic portrait done of the three of them, or just of the dog who is ill. I have a wonderful photo of my dog that I'm so glad to have.

Second, looking at the longer term, one of the kindest things you can do when she's ready is help her consider the end of her friend's life. It's terrible but she needs a plan. Thinking about how she'll know it's time and where - her house or the vet's - and what time of day the vet's services are available will be good things to know. The right time can arrive very quickly and nobody wants to stranded with a dog who is suffering at 3 am on a Sunday with no idea what to do.

Having a plan for that and knowing what I'm going to do with my dog's ashes helps me deal with her inevitable demise.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:06 PM on July 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

When a friend of mine had to have a much-loved dog put down, he scheduled a home visit from the vet. The dog's last hours were spent enjoying his backyard and his favorite visitors, some steak (one grilled for his owner, one grilled for the dog), and then passing away in his owner's arms surrounded by friends. The memory of that gave considerable peace to his owner.
posted by availablelight at 3:15 PM on July 1, 2010

Have pictures taken of the dog with and without your friend, in as professional format as can be arranged and afforded.
posted by kch at 3:46 PM on July 1, 2010

This previous thread might be very helpful with some excellent recommendations.
posted by HeyAllie at 3:55 PM on July 1, 2010

Best answer: Lovely favorite food for the dog. I'm glad she is already doing this.

Some thoughtful discussion of plans for the end . . . and human company for your friend, if wanted, for that incredibly painful time.

And be careful about taking a dog that sick to do physical activities. About a week before she died, I took my beloved lab, who had terminal kidney disease, on a walk to the park. It is half a block from our house, and it used to make her shiver with joy to go on a walk. But I was so sorry I did it -- she found it utterly exhausting, no fun at all. I think she put one foot in front of the other just to please me.

So, so sorry about this. There's an old saying -- "Take what you want, says God -- and pay for it" -- that always comes to mind for me when we lose one of our beloved dogs.
posted by bearwife at 3:59 PM on July 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

I am so sorry to hear this. It is devastating. I know it's hard, but the best thing to be done is to know when it's time to let go and not try to hold onto the dog longer than it should. When our oldest goes, which will be sooner rather than later, I will want it done in our house. I'll spoil the shit out of her with steak and treats.

I'm sorry we have to go through this, but the dog's just happy to be with you, anything more, and I personally feel like I'm doing it for myself and not for my dog.
posted by TheBones at 4:19 PM on July 1, 2010

Continue to discuss with the vet the appropriate use of pain medications to alleviate any suffering. Remember, this is about making the dag comfortable not the owner. While many of the activities may be desirable please do not encourage the dog to do mare than it can do, and can do with some ethusiasm. Two weeks suggests that the cancer is quite progressed. Pain management should be the number one priority Sleeping peacefully anmd pain free maybe the best thing you can help him/her accomplish
posted by rmhsinc at 4:49 PM on July 1, 2010

Stephen Tobolowsky had this problem. Here's what he did about it.

(Note: ending is ah...well, maybe something that doesn't happen to everybody.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:30 PM on July 1, 2010

Best answer: In addition to taking pictures, try and get some good videos of the dog, especially if the dog isn't yet so sick that it still acts pretty normal. I would want certain things my dogs do to be recorded, like the way the beagle bays when a squirrel is in the next yard, or the way the Pom spins in a circle when he's excited. Try and record what makes this dog special, other than it's obvious good looks and charming personality.

Also, maybe you could get a paw print or a nose print of the dog to incorporate into some kind of keepsake?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:27 PM on July 1, 2010

Oh god. This post has made me cry, thinking of how my dog died. It all happened in a flash, before we had time to consider what was going on and how best to put him down, and I wish I had the presence of mind to have done some of the suggestions put in this thread. I second the human company for your friend, in my network there were only a couple people who understood how painful it was, most people were of the "it's just a dog" persuasion. Good on you for trying to do something.
posted by scuza at 7:05 PM on July 1, 2010

I think you should take as much video as you can. I think if I were in this position, it would be very comforting to be able to watch a good long stretch of video of my dog, even if it's not doing anything special, or maybe especially then. So morbid am I, in fact, that I have video of my now-young dogs sleeping, their chests rising and falling, just because I anticipate that someday I'll like to watch that again.
posted by HotToddy at 7:49 PM on July 1, 2010

Response by poster: Pictures, video clips, and to accompany the dog to the end as humanely as possible.
Thank you everyone. I know my friend will definitely appreciate these advices.
posted by jstarlee at 8:39 PM on July 1, 2010

Oh! The first Christmas after our dog passed, my SO's sister gave us a framed collection of photos of him from when he was a puppy til his last year (no photos of him sick!). That was just lovely. It was a photo montage of the best of him.
posted by scuza at 6:30 AM on July 2, 2010

Rides in the car, naps in the shade, lots of human companionship for both of them. Throw a party celebrating the dog's life and his contribution to your friend's. Let him eat everything he wants. Send him out with a bang, because he's a good dog and a good friend.
posted by brand-gnu at 8:34 AM on July 2, 2010

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