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A Dog For The Family

 

A DOG FOR THE FAMILY

 

How do you know when to let your best friend go? This is NOT what you think but it IS the most powerful, unconventional message you will read today.

 

 

 

EUTHANASIA: WHEN IS IT TIME?

Sherry L. Shivley, Journalist Award Winner

 

People have often asked me “When do you know it is time?” I always replied, your dog will let you know.  I’ve been lying. They do not let you know. They hide their pain, their illness, their fear from you. They just want to be with you until their last breath, so they hide.

 

They may be riddled with tumors we cannot see, slowly leeching their lives away. Their hearts are no longer pumping at full capacity, so as they stand, their hind legs begin to fold downward from lack of strength but we think its arthritis.Their kidneys are shutting down, filling their bodies with toxins, mouths full of sores, making their breath smell horrible. Still they eat, drink, and hide their illness from you.

 

They beg to go on car rides, one more toss of a toy, a belly rub, a cuddle. They may begin sleeping behind a chair, or sofa. Under a table, somewhere they never did before. Somewhere quiet, and private. Preparing for death, but not telling you they are sick.

 

WE must look for the signs, and WE must make the decision for them. To relieve the suffering THEY refuse to show us. Because they do not want to leave. They are that loyal and loving. While we complain of arthritis pain, or a toothache, they hobble and do their best to keep up.

 

They may begin to lose weight or a dog who has never been a picky eater isn’t hungry. This is a Red Flag. Panting, drinking constantly, peeing, not able to hold urine in the house.

 

Sleeping in strange places. Bumps and lumps, especially if they bleed. Confusion, not keeping with a routine that they have followed for years. Poor coat, thin and dry or thick and greasy, possibly falling out.

 

It is a good idea to keep a notebook or checklist {1} to show your Vet of the changes you are seeing in your dog. Begin making the choices of what is to come, because your dog will not make the choice for you. They make it as hard as they can. We, being human, have feelings, and memories, and have issues with letting go. As humans, we can also think things through and see that logically, our good friend is in pain, will not survive, and we are not doing any favors by continuing to hold on to them.

 

One of my Boxers was a hale and hearty German-bred girl (photo at left). She developed thyroid issues, but was a happy and active bitch throughout her life. Until she wasn’t. One day she stood with her head against the wall in the living room. I rushed her to the Vet, who told me her kidney levels were 10 times the normal values! I could not get my head around it. She ate, drank, maybe a bit more than usual, but I keep track of my dogs! Overnight she continued to stand in that corner, shaking. Hunched, vomiting.

 

I called my Vet and took her in to be released. She didn’t have the strength to stand to vomit in the car. She lay there and vomited. I vowed then that I would be more diligent with my dogs after that.

 

I set my 12-and-a-half-year-old Brindle free yesterday. He was my First Champion. He hated conformation but loved doing Rally Obedience. He was quirky, affectionate and silly. He developed arthritis and thyroid issues as old dogs do, then last March his blood tests revealed his kidneys were failing. I gave him rehydrated food, as well as 3 tums twice a day to settle his stomach from the acid produced by his kidney failure. He ate well, was perky, and still loved to go for rides in the car, French fries from any fast food joint, and squeaky toys.

 

Last week I noticed he was losing weight. I increased his food, then his hind legs seemed to be wonkier.

 

Monday night I could hear him stumbling around the room, and falling. He finally came to my side of the bed, nosed me, and fell on the floor for the night. I knew the decision was made.

 

Tuesday A.M. he could not get up without help. My husband placed a blanket under him to take him out to potty. I contacted my veterinarian and set up the time. He ate like his usual piggy self, almost falling the whole time. He struggled to stand on those wobbly hind legs.

 

I sat with him in the SUV so he could look outside one last time. With cataracts he couldn’t see much but his nose still worked well. He picked out the feedlots, corn fields, and ethanol plant on the way up. He wobbled his way in and greeted his vet as an old friend. With the tranquilizer, he was almost gone, his body so worn out. Finally, he was free from the pain, illness and fear he was hiding from us.

 

I made the human decision to not have him begging for meals, dancing on all 4s in excitement to go in the car, getting in my face so I could not ignore him.

 

I made the decision that is was better to have those memories, than the ones coming of him falling, vomiting, wracked in pain, yet still hiding it from me.

 

I apologize to all of you who I have lied to all these years, that THEY will let you know when they are ready. They rely on you to do that, because they know they can trust you to care for them in all ways.

 

No matter how much it hurts. Let them go with dignity and love. Stay with them until their last breath.

 

They deserve that much and more.  See ya at the Rainbow Glide - Good Dog.

Copyright TheDogPlace.org 1811 http://www.thedogplace.org/FAMILY-DOG/Euthanasia-when-is-it-time-s18S11.asp

 

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