Losing focus

Lexie rests after pacing through the house all afternoon.

Lexie rests after pacing through the house all afternoon.

It’s been almost a year since Lexie recognized her own name.

Slowly, her eyes lost focus.

Then she simply forgot who I am.

Each day when we meet, it’s as if for the first time. She opens her mouth wide, and gently nibbles my hands for a clue to who I could be. Some days she will lower her head onto my lap. Other days she simply walks away, to start her endless circling path around the coffee table.

Dementia has stolen our baby Lex. She hardly barks any more. A dog treat barely registers more than a mouthy snap.

For 15 years she has been my constant companion. So when symptoms of her dementia reared up this month —including her getting stuck behind our couch — I knew it was time to get her evaluated.

The vet was shocked at her appearance. Lex had lost 3 pounds since our last visit. Her eyes seemed distant. She was not friendly or open to meeting the vet tech.

During the physical exam, Lexie snapped at the vet. Before I could process the situation, the tech placed a muzzle on Lexie’s snout. She writhed and shed what seemed to be at least half of her coat. I put my hand on Lexie’s chest, and did my best to calm her. As her eyes rolled around the room, I could see the terror rise up.

The vet didn’t mince words. She said Lexie lives in a world of fear and anxiety. Sadly, anti-anxiety/depression medications would only lift her inhibitions, possibly leading to more dog bites. If Lex was her dog, she didn’t think it would be fair to keep her in this emotionally painful space.

The tears were falling into my lap before she passed me a tissue.

She offered to put Lexie down right then if I wished. I wondered if this was some sort of bad dream.

I told her Matt and I would have to talk, and that we’d get back to her with our decision.

My heart aches. I can’t imagine my world without my Lexie Doodle.

But I know the vet’s right. At this point in the game, it’s not a matter of if … but when.



33 thoughts on “Losing focus

  1. I’m so sorry. 😦 I know what you are going through. I went through that with my MinPin last year.. he was 17. I’d had him since he was a pup; and I have no children – so my dogs ARE my children. I’d spent more than half of my “adult” life with him. He was deaf and blind and sometimes had bouts of dimentia as well. The morning I let him go was so bittersweet. I didn’t want him to suffer anymore. I wanted him to NOT suffer more than I cared about me suffering for him once he was gone. As soon as I knew it wasn’t fair for me to be selfish and keep him any longer, I made an appointment that day and took him in. He died in my arms with one of his favorite sweaters on. I then placed him in his little casket, closed his little eyes with my hands, closed the casket and let the funeral home take him. He was privately cremated, and his ashes now sit in my headboard with his brother’s (Golden Retriever’s) ashes from the year before last (he was 15). I know it doesn’t help the pain, but I wanted you to know that you are not alone. You will get through this. I didn’t think I would. I honestly didn’t. But I did. Looking back, I know I did the right thing for both of them and I would do it again. It’s all about them.. it’s never about us. Hugs.

    True Heart MinPin Rescue, Inc.

    • Dena, Thanks so much for sharing your story. Making this decision is so difficult. I am questioning every move, and still checking myself to make sure I am not keeping Lexie around for selfish purposes. It’s so hard because I love her so much, and I don’t want to let go. And still, I know it’s the most compassionate thing to do. Much love to you… Jillian

  2. Hey Jill…so sorry to hear about Lexi.. we went through the same thing with our Dog max who was about 17 when we made that decision. He was having trouble getting around, he was confused, he would end up in the corner and not know how to turn around or back up. The dogs had never been allowed upstairs and he would wander upstairs and not know where he was. When he wasn’t confused he was sleeping, this didn’t really seem like much of an existance. It seemed cruel to keep him around for our selfish desires. One thing I did do that I am SOO greatful I was able to arrange, was to have the vet come to our house to put him to sleep. I didn’t want Max’s last hours to be even more upsetting and confusing with a car trip and an unfamiliar place. I took comfort in the fact of knowing that he was at home in his own environment when we released him from this world. It was super hard because of course I had to schedule it ahead of time so we KNEW this was his last day… but in the end it was still the right decision for him.

    • Thanks for sharing your story. Letting go is so hard. Especially knowing the right moment. It sounds as if Lex is exactly in the same spot that Max was in. I found her wandering in the basement yesterday, a spot that she’s not allowed and never goes to. Sigh. I’m so glad you were able to have the vet come to your house. that must have provided so much comfort to you and your family. My best to you….

  3. Ohh Jillian, this breaks my heart. I cannot even start to imagine how hard is this on you at this time. Wish I could find words to express how sad this makes me, but as you say the vet is right, poor Lex.
    Much love

  4. Letting go is hard, especially when you know it is coming. Let the emotion wash over you, and eventually the tide of pain will retreat. You will find peace and so will she. XOXOX

  5. I am so sorry to hear you that Lex is so unhappy. I still think that setting your pet free from suffering is one of the greatest gifts we can give them, a thank you almost for the unconditional way that they love us. Sending a massive hug x

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about Lex’s situation…….it’s the toughest time of all – but when we see the distress our beloved pets are in, and realize that they are no longer enjoying their lives – AT ALL – the kindest thing – the most LOVING thing – is to let them go. After all, we’ll carry them in our hearts forever and ever anyway……and they know that on some level I’m sure. Bless you……

    Pam (and Sam)

  7. I feel with you, that’s the hardest decision ever. It’s always the wrong time, because the time we have together is always too short. I’m sure you will do the best for Lexie. You are in my thoughts.

  8. I am so incredibly and truly sad to hear this. Your heart must be breaking and I know that there is nothing I can say that will help or make it better. Just know that you are in my thoughts and prayers and I simply ask God to give you the strength to cope through this. I wish there were more I could do. We are here, any time you need

  9. Six months ago we had to make the same decision for our beautiful Zac so the pain you are going through is so fresh. He was only 8, he knew who we were but the level of pain and suffering was getting too much.
    If I’d had my way, I would have kept him near me forever. But as pet owners we make a pact with our dear friends to love them and always do the best that we can for them.
    It tears us apart but so does their suffering.
    You know you are doing the best for Lexie even though it will break your heart.
    The wonderful memories of Lexie and your love for her will always be with you as my too short a time with Zac is with me.
    I’m banking on seeing him again one day, happy, whole and healthy and I hope that Lexie will be waiting for you with her memories intact.

    • Oh my. The tears are falling. It’s so hard having her here, rubbing her nose up against my leg. Sigh. I love her so much. And I know letting her go is just an extension of that love. Still, it’s terribly hard. Thanks for propping me up. I think I may reach out for your hand again soon.

    • Thanks for checking, Leo. This week she mostly slept, punctuated with trips outside. Her dementia is pretty bad, and her balance/strength is off. Sadly, we will be putting her down tomorrow.

      • I’m so sorry to read this Jillian, I can’t imagine how you are feeling right now.
        It’s for the best tho, you gave her a great life and it’s only fair for her you let her go with dignity.
        My heart goes out to you, I’m really really sorry.
        This makes me really sad.
        Much love.

      • Thanks so much. Your words mean the world. I am blessed in that this is my last week of medical leave, so I have been able to spend all my time with her. I’m terribly sad, but I know it’s the right decision. Sigh.

  10. Pingback: Losing Lexie | Our Furever Family

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