Once upon a time, I worked for a vet clinic. One fine February day in 1999, a few of my co-workers picked up this stray puppy on the street:
At the beginning of October, she started having a lot of weakness in her hind legs and I had suspicions it was because the tumor had spread to her spinal cord. We took her back to the vet and got her the doggie equivalent of advil and some narcotics. The pain meds helped her out, but the weather turning cooler made a huge difference. She was a lot peppier for a couple of weeks.
Last night, everything was the same it has been. She ate and drank, got around like normal and slept in the hallway when the girls went to bed, then moved into our room when Josh and I went to bed. She needed to go out in the middle of the night so Josh let her out. She took longer than normal to come in, but he didn't think much of it. Then around 6 this morning she needed out again, but she was having a really hard time getting up. I thought it was just old joints, a slick floor and a cold morning working against her. Josh came to get me out of bed a short while later saying she couldn't hold herself up to go to the bathroom. I got up and looked out the window at her and saw her head tilted oddly to one side and her body leaning towards that same side. That's a pretty ominous neurological sign, so we called the vet to get her in first thing. She continued to deteriorate over the next 2 hours and when we took her in, she was no longer holding her bladder and her proprioceptive test (turning her paw under, they should right it again immediately) was very poor in addition to the head tilt and general weakness. The vet also found other signs that we were dealing with cancer that had spread.
Given her age, her history and the severity of the neurological symptoms, I chose to have her euthanized. She had been more snuggly than normal this morning, even giving me two small licks on the face as I sat next to her in the back of the van on the way to the vet. I think she knew it was time to rest and I am pretty sure she would have had a very rapid decline at home. I'm glad there was a definite "yes, it's time" moment/symptoms rather than prolonged suffering. I was also able to hold her and then lay her down as they gave her the meds. She was a good dog who put up with a lot of doggie upheaval in her 14 years and still remained 100% loyal.
Goodbye old friend. You'll be missed.