I’m a decisive person. Give me a choice and I’ll make it – quickly and, in most cases, easily. Raising children means constant decision making. So yeah, I’ve had some practice.
But now I’m facing a decision that’s far from clear cut. Our dog, a black lab mix (aka mutt) is fourteen years old. She has hip dysplasia, a torn ACL (surgery wasn’t an option due to her age, but she is on medication), is partially blind, and almost completely deaf. She also appears confused and easily frightened – and just for fun, she is now having trouble controlling her bowels. Lucky me! None of these symptoms is life threatening. And we won’t make a decision in the name of convenience (altho, some days I want to).
Due to her hip dysplasia/ACL tear, she has trouble getting up from a resting position. She still attempts stairs, but usually ends up stuck, or worse, sliding backwards down them. Trying to keep her downstairs while we go to bed results in her howling loud enough to wake the dead – and the neighbors. Lately, Mr. Pandora has been carrying a 70lb dog up the stairs. At the beach, I’ve been placing pieces of Beggin’ Strips on every other step and supporting her weight as she slowly makes the climb – which we only let her do three times a day. Dog’s gotta go potty.
And here’s where things get tricky. Helping her to her feet/up the stairs causes her pain – enough pain for her to growl and snap. I get it. We’re hurting her while trying to help her. And yeah, I’ve banned the kids from assisting the dog.
We’ve been in this holding pattern for several months, then… yesterday, she refused to come back inside the house. She simply stood in the torrential rain and stared at me. This behavior was so off for her – a dog who, in the past, would “hold it” until the rain stopped suddenly didn’t… well… um… have enough sense to come in from the rain. Even worse, when I tried to coax her in, she growled and became defensive. Which leads me to this blog post.
Is it time? We had her at the vet a month ago and he said it wasn’t time yet. And most of the time she’s an old dog who sleeps a lot and doesn’t bother anyone. She’s still loving and sweet 98% of the time, but the moments when she’s not cause me concern. Basically, none of her conditions are life threatening – and, believe me, there are days I wish they were because then I wouldn’t have to make a decision – it would be made for me.
It would go something like this: Person: “Oh no, I just heard you had to put your dog down.” Me: “Yeah, it was so sad, but we had no choice. She had terminal (fill in the blank) and was in constant pain. We couldn’t let her suffer.”
But that’s not where we’re at. And yeah, I know decision time is rapidly approaching, but I’m not sure if that time is today… next week… next month… next year…
Okay, I know it won’t be today. I’m returning to Wilmington on August 14th (Cross Country for the 16 year old and back to college for my son) so that’s when I’ll need to really think this through. Until then, the dog will stay home during the week with Mr. Pandora. And the dog does do better in Wilmington than at the beach – ground floor living during the day is easier for her – until bedtime and the howling!
Any advice would be appreciated.