29 December 2009

The Old Dog

I’ve got a hard decision to make and I’ve been putting it off.

Cookie is our 14 year old dog. She is a golden retriever and border collie mix, most likely. She has been a great, if stubborn, family companion all these years. She has kept us company, taken us on long walks, warned me when the newspaper hit the porch, driven squirrels out of the yard. She once, with the help of our cat, caught and killed a rat in the street. She has defended me against all Y chromosomes, suffering only a few to cross our threshold.

Her big brown eyes are blue with cataracts now. She is so deaf that we have to clap our hands loudly to get her attention. I can let her out front off the leash because she can’t physically run off. She is so stiff and creaky that I beg her to sleep downstairs but she limps her way upstairs at bedtime because she can’t imagine sleeping anywhere other than my bedside.

And now she has days when she can’t get up off the floor. Her back end has gotten so weak that standing is a challenge if she is on the hardwood floor. If the young dog bumps into her, she falls down with her legs splayed out in four directions. I got one of those rear lift harnesses to try and help her get up, but it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Some days I have to roll her onto a blanket and drag her to the back door. Then I can get her up on her feet and she only has a couple of steps to get outside. Once she is outside with the grass and dirt underfoot, she is a bit steadier on her pins. She’ll make her rounds, peeing and sniffing, and then stagger back up the stairs to come in.

She is on pain meds now and has good days and not so good days. I’ve been putting off making the decision because she keeps rallying. She’ll have a bad couple of days and I’ll think, yes, it’s time and then she rallies and gets her mojo back and is clearly enjoying life. She loves hanging out with her people and loves her treats. It takes half an hour to get around the block, but she loves her walks. She is still loving life.

I know that I need to call the housecall vet to let him know that the time is getting near. I can’t bear to take her to the clinic because she hates it so much and I don’t want her last moments on earth to be there. Dr Carroll will come to the house when it is time.


8thdayplanner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
8thdayplanner said...

Oh, I am so sorry. I have had to do this twice - once with a cat and once with a dog. Both times they let me know it was time, yet I stalled for days because I was not ready. And then, finally, we were both ready.

Never easy. My heart goes out to you.


Darlene said...

I'm not good at that. In fact, unless the animal is in severe pain, I won't do it. I don't feel like I should play God and I think all living creatures have a desire to live. Living means something different to everyone and everything. For a dog, in can mean lying in a spot of sunshine and feeling the warmth of the rays.

I'm sorry you feel it is coming to this point where you need to decide. Hopefully you won't have to do that anytime soon.

Murray said...

It is easy to see how much your dog is loved. Not all pets are that fortunate. I am sure he knows that and so whatever you decide is best for him, will be. But I know that doesn't make it any easier. You and your dog are both very lucky that you have a vet that will make home visits when that time comes. That is such a wonderful idea, but I have never heard of them in our area for dogs and cats. I will have to research that some more.

Anyway, more hugs to you. Save them for when you need them.

eb said...

I've had to do this once before - very hard indeed, my heart goes out to you. I'm so sorry you pup is getting to the end of her journey. It's never easy. But, it sounds like Cookie lived a fabulous dog's life. Our dog, Sawyer, is a Y chromosome defender also. There are few Y chromosomes he'll suffer.

liz said...

I've never had to make that decision, but I know that when it comes time, I'll be a blubbering mess. I can't imagine not having the pup around.

I think its great that there's a vet who will come to the house. At least you can be together in comfortable surroundings.

Jen said...

So so sorry, having at home will be easier, but nothing really makes it better.

jesse james said...

Oh man oh man oh man, I am so sorry. This is such a hard time. My thoughts are with you and your sweet pooch. You are clearly a wonderfully loving person who is very in tune with your pooch. The home visit thing is a great option, I'm glad you have someone you trust. Hugs and strength to you and the sweet pup.