Thanks to Friend-of-the-Blog Frank for sending this article from the NY Times:
Verlyn Klinkenbord devoted her December 18th editorial to Darcy, a beloved dog who had come to the end of her days. The article is worth reading because it discusses the process all pet guardians eventually go through: how to make the decision that it’s time to put an animal down.
(By the way – my son asked me to put his brother to sleep the other day, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)
Sometimes, the decision is easy, when it’s obvious the dog is suffering and has no hope of recovery. Car accidents, cancer, and other diseases can bring us to this point. Please note: I said the decision is easy, not the actual reality of the process.
But if you’ve been lucky enough to keep your dog healthy until he or she has reached old age, how do you go about making the decision? How do you know when the bad times outweigh the good times? What are the ethics involved? Who needs to be involved in the decision?
I don’t have the answers. My dad always told me to look at the animal’s eyes – they would tell you when it was time. And I have to say this was the case with my Foxhound, Molly. When her cancer came out of remission, her eyes just looked so sad and rheumy, I knew we could do nothing else but put her out of her misery. It was awful because she was just 4 years old, but it had to be done.
Please use the comment space to tell us about your end-of-life journeys with your dogs.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog
2 thoughts on “Walking the Final Mile with Your Dog”
I have a (almost) 9 yr old Giant Schnauzer…he is my best friend. He had been having problems with his right front leg…he had to have a toe cut off over a year ago. I look into his eyes and I could cry. He was diagnosted 2 weeks ago with Thyroid Cancer. Just thinking about putting him down makes me cry. I know the time will come…He is taking pain meds but not sure how long he will last.
I remember I had a dog, Poppy, She could never shut her mouth. The Vet could not find a problem and she seemed happy so it was left. At the age of six I took her for a run. when she got back she never got out of her basket by herself again. We took her to the Vet and he diagnosed that she had a rare brain disease and the reason her mouth was permanently open was because the disease had attacked the nerves in her mouth. Therefore she didn’t realise her mouth was open.
I felt and still feel guilty for taking her on that final run. Especially since I told her off for not keeping up. As if she could have understood what I was saying to her. What makes my memory of this time even worse was the Vet wanted us to pay for scans so he can look at the disease. He could do nothing for her but he wanted to satisfy his curiosity. She was put down in July of 1995 and I think of her frequently.
Saying goodbye is hard, but I try to remember the good times and the enjoyment she had and she brought to my family. I remember how she was very obedient, loving and how she used to clasp a empty plastic bottle in between her back legs and hop about on the kitchen floor…
Especially in front of guests.