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Friday, 05 November 2010

Measuring Dog Years

In the wake of the passing of my dog, I had a session with my therapist yesterday. I talked about how hard the decision was, and how some people seemed to feel that I hadn't waited long enough to choose euthanasia.

The dog had been unwell and unhappy for 2-3 months. She had no diagnosis and no course of treatment, which meant no hope for improvement. The only thing the vet could say for sure was that her kidneys were slowing down. While the dog still had a spark of life to her, I couldn't stand watching her decline. I thought about her problems, and asked myself how I would feel if I had those every day for 2-3 months. I'd be miserable after a DAY with the symptoms she had.

The therapist pointed out something I hadn't considered. For those of you struggling with the pet end-of-life decision, I hope this will help you. The therapist reminded me that 2 dog months is a human year. So imagine having those health problems for a YEAR. Well, when you put it that way...

I also think I was "lucky" to know my dog as well as I did. I work from home, so I could watch her all day. I knew every symptom and wart, and I could tell if anything were 1 millimetre worse. If I judged her health and pain by the "big greeting" I might get if I come home after being at work all day, I wouldn't have seen the reality of what she seemed to struggle with all day. I can imagine someone who is not home all day thinking this animal was pretty fine, and letting this go on for months or years.

Some of my friends made it sound like it was too soon. She had a spark of life. She was still eating. She could get up and move around. She wasn't crying all day. Personally, I think if I saw an animal not eating, not moving, with no life, I would say it was too far gone. I could never bear to look at my beloved kid, and see palpable pain. Don't listen to people who say you have to wait until your dog looks a lot like death. If you are looking to keep an animal from suffering, an animal that close to death has probably been suffering a while.

Thanks to Facebook friends who came out and said yes, they've had to do this, and their main regret was waiting too long. It's a very hard decision. No time seems like the right time to end a pet's life. I don't struggle with the decision anymore, but I struggle with her loss.

It's full-day one without her. I miss her. The house is so quiet, and how alone I am seems really obvious. I keep wanting to sing to her, or ask her to clean my plate. I know it'll get better with time. For those of you struggling with this decision, I hope some of my difficult decision will help you.

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Comments

Sorry for your loss. :( Been there and done that a few times now. It's very HARD and it hurts very much! You did the right thing. It's hard to watch pets struggle with being sick. Waiting to long is much much much worse. Waiting to long isn't for the dog...it's for the owner. (IMO)
Hope your doing ok.

Hi, Missy. Thanks for writing that. Yes, I'm doing OK, mostly thanks to knowing it was the right thing at the right time. Not second guessing myself is making healing easier.

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