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Man's best friend: When is it time?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Dick Whitman, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    We have a 15-year-old yellow lab. It is pretty clear that she's nearing the end. But it's been pretty clear for a while, and she bounces back.

    A year and a half ago, she had major surgery to remove a huge mass from her spleen, and came away good as new.

    A few weeks ago, she stopped eating and was suffering explosive, watery diarreah. My wife was planning on taking her to the vet that day for the inevitable. Then, she shat out a bib. Yep, she ate my toddler's bib whole. She bounced back.

    However, she has been struggling to walk for some time. This morning, I couldn't get her to stand up. Her back legs just couldn't hold her weight. (She did during the night, though, when I had to go let her out when she woke us up barking.) But she ate when I put the food in front of her.

    She isn't wimpering. She doesn't seem to be in pain, particularly. She eats. But she goes in the house a lot these days, particularly No. 2, even when we try to put her outside multiple times a day. (Often, she'll just lie down on the deck - she doesn't try to make it down the three or four stairs to the yard any more). She has started barking for no reason, sometimes in the middle of the night. Loudly.

    Our extended family - and in particular our mothers - have been trying for some time to get us to euthanize her, because they, I think, see what a drain she is on our energy and what a contributor she is to our stress levels. (We have two dogs - the other one is a skittish, tightly wound Boston Terrier). We have been resistant, though, because we don't feel like we should put a dog down just because she's become inconvenient to us. That doesn't seem right. That said, holy shit would life be easier without her around.

    Anyway, that's the situation. It's been weighing on us heavily.

    What is the crowd's thoughts?
  2. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    Man. I feel for you. When we were deciding to get a dog, that's the one thing that I kept thinking about the most. How I'm signing up for that inevitable awful situation/day.

    Good luck in whatever you decide.
  3. Vombatus

    Vombatus Well-Known Member

    These are tough. My thoughts are that your dog will help you know when it is time. We've had two cats succumb to cancer. Not eating and not being anything like themselves were big signs for us. We did all we could with treatment, and even that can be questioned as doing too much, but we have no regrets. We focused on their quality of life. Still makes me sad.
  4. Big Circus

    Big Circus Well-Known Member

    Sorry you're going through this, Dick. My in-laws put their dog down a few months ago and found this checklist helpful:
    • She likes to eat.
    • She likes to play ball.
    • She likes to go for walks.
    • She likes to be petted by children.
    • She is proud of her housebreaking.
    • She likes large groups of people and dogs.
    • She likes going for car rides.
    The article it came from (which my mother-in-law didn't link in the email) said that a dog might have a decent quality of life if you can answer "yes" to at least four of those questions. The author gave the caveat that other factors - pain, senility that causes fear, lack of bodily function/control - trump the list.

    When my in-laws went through the list, they could only answer "yes" to one question (liking to eat). So their decision was a fairly easy one based on the article, and I think it confirmed what they already knew deep down.

    And I imagine you know, deep down, too, whether the answer is "yes" or "no." It's a tough, terrible decision to have to make. Best of luck to you.
  5. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Sorry to hear Dick. Unfortunately it's sounds like it's about time. I've had to put down 4 dogs in my lifetime and it's never
    easy. I've always found my vet to be good council on the decision. Will spare you all the happy horseshit that people will say to try and make you feel better other
    than to say you'll be really sad for a while but you'll come around. It's good that you have another dog.
    What you don't want to happen is to have one of your kids one day find the dog "sleeping".
  6. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    It's crazy. She unexpectedly greeted me at the door, a rampaging, overgrown puppy, on our first date.

    I feel awful for the kids. They just love her, even though she doesn't do much anymore. But she's always been so gentle with them, and she's this big, happy furball to them.
  7. JC

    JC Well-Known Member

    and you fear should be that she becomes not so gentle with them.

    It's a terrible decision to have to make but it sounds like it's time.
  8. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Good list would add
    Likes to bang out 10 miles on the threadmill
    Mr. Sunshine likes this.
  9. Amy

    Amy Well-Known Member

    She's a dog. She doesn't think about tomorrow. She knows now. The best thing you can do for her is euthanize her before her now gets worse.
  10. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    I had my dog almost 15 years. I got him right after I graduated college. I drove cross country with him multiple times. He would sit shotgun and lean against the air conditioner. Best dog I ever had. When I was covering colleges, I would have to board him for weeks at a time and that always killed me. I once flew home at 8 p.m. and had a flight out first thing the next morning and I went to the kennel, which was closed, but they let me in to play with him for a couple hours.

    I actually took him to the vet one time and I had told myself, if the news is bad, I might have to do something. The news was good. He came home with me. He used to jump up on the bed and the couch, but late in his life we had to get little stairs for him to climb up because he couldn't jump anymore.

    After my second son was born, I had to travel for work and I stayed with a friend who told me to bring my dog. He played with my friend's dog, who was also really old at the time. We had a great weekend, I covered my event, drove home with him. The next morning I left early to go somewhere and my wife called me an hour later to say when she went to let him out, he had died. It was probably the last time I really cried and I've had grandparents die since then.

    My wife had everything cleaned up and taken care of by the time I got home. I remember she said, "I wasn't sure if you'd be able to handle it."

    I feel so fortunate that I never had to put him down. My friend's dog died two weeks later.
  11. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    I had this happen to me as a kid and it was devastating. I rode my bike home from school and our Weimeraner was lying dead in front of my house. She'd gotten out and had been hit by a car.

    Fucked my shit up for awhile. I was 9 at the time.
  12. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    The lack of strength in the hind legs is common among older labs. It happened my dog growing up, too. My dad waited as long as he could stand it before finally setting the appointment to have the dog euthanized. When we awoke that morning to take him in, we found he had passed during the night. To this day, my dad believes Pepper knew how difficult it was for him to do it, so he gave up to spare us the pain.

    As others have said, only you can really know when it's time. Consult your veterinarian for advice, but ultimately, you'll know when it's right. Just consider whether euthanizing her will end her pain, or yours. You just don't want to do it thinking that she's lost it, and find out later she's just struggling because she hadn't passed a bib.

    My thoughts are with you, and especially your kids, dude. I'm not looking forward to the day we have to go through the same thing with our 8-year-old yellow lab (or the 3-year-old labradoodle, for that matter).
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