When do we say When?


My Bop & Daz 005 (Small)roommate and I were at odds about if it was time for  Bebop, the dog in the photo, to ‘cross the rainbow bridge’. We had a horribly brutal winter, with wind chills of 30 below, and Boppers  kept going (although just to eliminate & come back in).   Boppers was 15.  He became very stiff (although glucosamine-chondroitin  had helped),  virtually blind,  pretty deaf, and  really didn’t have the muscle power to defecate without falling over.  Yet, he still  was eating. Finally, he could not trot to the kitchen if he thought there is a bowl to lick, and while he hadn’t walked himself into a corner, he walked in circles due to an attack of vestibulary disease.  He could no longer jump on the furniture.

Were it not so dangerously cold, this would not have been an issue.  He could no longer go for a walk, and he used to love walking.  He was just to frightened of the stimuli  and could not  keep up even slowly with my younger dog.

This is a link I copied to help me decide:

http://www.vetmobilecare.com/index.php/loving-in-home-pet-euthanasia/a-guide-how-to-decide.html

Some friends  told me how bad he looked. Indeed, all of my dogs (all sighthounds) looked terribly frail and in pain as they neared their demise.  But you know your dog.

I have only owned  8 dogs in my adult life.  Khyber, my first Afghan, always had pancreatic issues.    His whole life, I don’t think he ever went a week without vomiting bile. I euthanized him when he had a heart attack, at age 10, on a Saturday night.  We all knew he was slowly dying.  We being my parents and I. The last few weeks of his life,  he lived with my parents because it was summer and they had central air conditioning and I didn’t.  He had never been a happy dog (many sighthounds are very serious), but  you could tell he was losing the will to live.

When Khyber was about 8, I got Aswan, my 2nd Afghan.   She was a show prospect  with a  great pedigree and a perfect example of why you don’t breed pedigrees—you breed dogs.   She had always been very happy and outgoing, full of mischief.  I had put an a CD (AKC Companion Dog—showing off leash reliability) on her, and she was trained for Open competition, but  she was such a ham and I couldn’t afford to amuse the gallery. She also attained an ASFA field championship.  She was my heart and soul, but the last  year of her life was grim.  When she was about 11, when I had gotten divorced and sold my business, the person I sold my business to offered take care of her for  6 weeks while I managed  a kennel in another state. She got  mange  during that time—and I wonder if this person actually kept both my dogs crated the whole time.  I had to shave her because  it was so hard to diagnose, and ultimately use  a very heavy insecticide to ‘cure’ her, but it was downhill from there.  She  started falling: she was going blind, and she became incontinent.  She didn’t know who she was anymore, so, at the age of 13, after weeks of agonizing, I euthanized her,.

During the time I had Aswan, while I was still married (because my then husband didn’t want me to get another Afghan), I got my first Whippet, Bari. Bari was also a conformation show prospect who didn’t mature as I had hoped, but he was a very sweet dog who attained his CD as well as  his ASFA field championship with a Best in Field.  My ex-husband  got into law school, and   the dynamic changed.  We got divorced.  I couldn’t afford  show or trial entry fees.  I was  in college, then grad school, and then I joined Peace Corps.  I had several friends who offered to care for Bari, and I was surprised at how quickly Peace Corps found me a placement.  I was only gone a year (due to  ‘the political situation’ in the country), but Bari has been  12 when I left, and  although relatively well cared for, the stress got him. He just slowly  broke down with small physical  annoyances.  I could see, because he was roaching his back, that he was in pain, so I euthanized him after agonizing about the decision over three weeks.  He was almost 14.

I wanted a larger dog,  but another Sighthound, and I didn’t  want the care an Afghan takes.  I got the Saluki, Sadiq, from Bill and Cindy Brown.  He was never a proper house dog (not housebroken and into everything), and  after I had had him  four years, he actually succumbed to cancer after exposure to pesticides (or so the oncologist theorized, and I did not doubt).  I actually paid over  $2000 to have Sadiq treated, which a friend advised me  not to do, and she was right.  His quality of life initially got worse, and he was only in remission for a couple of months before, one day, he decided to NOT got for a walk with me, and it was  just a day or  2 more  when his nose started bleeding.  I might have waited for him to die naturally, but didn’t think it was right, so I had him euthanized.  He was  eight years old.

Then came Dazzle. I had  initially contacted Saluki rescue, but there were no dogs in the Midwest, and this is often the case  of the rare breeds. The rescue coordinator put me in touch with Dazzle’s breeder, Nancy Badra, who  was not advertising  him (she had  3 left from his litter, they were 14 months old).  She asked me what I knew about the breed. Since I had gotten Sadiq from  the Browns, who were very active in the Saluki Club of America, she agreed to sell me Dazzle.  He was the sweetest dog. It took him a couple of weeks to warm up to me. I knew he wondered what had happened to himself (he had lived with a pack of Salukis).  He never did a naughty thing, and never had an accident in the house until the last few months. He was always very shy, but about a year after I got Dazzle, Whippet rescue called.  I had been on the waiting list for  four years! They had Bebop (formerly Magic), who was turned in  by relatives of an owner who had died.

They  brought  Bebop to me, because I said I’d take him if he got along with Dazzle.  Bebop  was immediately at home, and the first thing he did was walk under Dazzle —a sign of dominance.  Dazzle then went into play posture, bowing down, and they started running in the house, and I knew they’d get along.   The greeting they did was the last they ever played together, because  Bebop was also a pest.  He always  loved to play.  He was also always cold if it wasn’t 80, and  liked to lay next to Dazzle.  Dazzle liked to sleep alone.  He didn’t want to be part of a dog pile. Dazzle died 2 years ago.   He had become very frail, and , as I said, incontinent, but  we was obviously still interested in life.  What happened was, we went for an afternoon walk, and then, suddenly, after dinner, he fell, and could not get up. I lifted him, and he fell again. I knew then it was time, and took him that night to be euthanized. He was about 15.

We got Dash a few months later, and  neither he nor Bebop seemed particularly interested in  playing with each other but they didn’t mind being together. I know that Bebop was attached to Dazzle, but really just to keep warm, or steal bones.  These 2 will lay with each other, but  only on my bed.

Dash  is a unique personality.  He does not like  dogs that are not sight hounds, and if any dog, even a small one,  gives him the stink eye, he reciprocates.  He came somewhat obedience trained, but with a lot of bad habits (counter surfing and digging holes), but he is a good dog. This is not about him, though.

My roommate has been with me for  13 years.  He came to live with me just a couple of months after Bebop. When KN came, he  barely spoke any English, but he  liked dogs.  He  bonded with Bebop.  Bebop has always been a little tough guy.  He cuddled because he was cold.  He wanted to play constantly, and would bark at you to  get you to  chase him around.  I had wanted to do  obedience competition with him, but I was too busy with a business to  schlep out to the closest class.  We tried doing  straight racing, but he was a goofball, not particularly fast, and  wasn’t on the lure until he was about  8 years old.  He would not have been eligible to even compete had I not  met his breeder, by chance, at a dog show.   I was showing Dazzle, and we had brought Bebop along for the ride. She recognized him as a dog she bred, and asked me how I got him.  She sent me all his registration information.  In any case,  KN often joined me when we went to race practice, because he was experiencing America.  Dazzle was a hard dog to get close to (being a Saluki), but Bebop was just the right size and  personality….

A person who works for an animal shelter posted on Facebook that so many people bring in old dogs to be euthanized because they don’t want to bother with them. Someone posted  a photo of a line of people  hauling dogs to a shelter in Florida on Christmas Eve.  I know many of these people are dumping a dog who no longer plays, who  probably has health issues, and are going to  go right back out and get a puppy.  I’ve worked at kennels where people who have dumped old dogs for boarding, told us to  ‘find a home’ for the dog  because they were getting a puppy.  There is a huge segment of the population   that thinks this is acceptable.  U think it is cowardly and immoral. However, I also know that  people agonize, and try  not to deal with the sadness of an end of life.
They may go to an animal shelter for euthanasia because the animal hospitals are so expensive.  You really don’t know  unless you know the owners.

I have a friend who had he three pet male dogs die within  three years of each other. She knew they were failing, and knew they were dying. Being a nurse herself,   she found drugs and other means to keep them comfortable until they expired on their own.

My roommate grew up without any religious training in Japan. His parents were of the post WWII generation whose parents were  relatively urban and not really  practicing Buddists.  KN is constantly asking me about Christianity, and ‘the God’,and is genuinely trying to understand the  pretzel logic of the  Western world.  He is, however, among the most ethical people I know.  He feels as long as this dog’s life has value to this dog, and he isn’t in enough pain to stop eating, he should live.  I  was feeling that way.  I still feel that way.  I also feel  that if we can end suffering, we should.

I know that people wait too long to euthanize a dog, and I know we did, too.  I could see Bebop failing.  he finally could not get up without falling.  KN did not want to let go.  I  emailed him  info on how to tell, and euthanizing a dog at home, but it took Bebop not being able to stand, not eating, and  being enticed to eat that convinced KN. Boppers was so tired.  At the  animal hospital, they offered him a  last meal of cheese and  hot dogs, and he ate until he was sedated, and left peacefully.  Of course we miss him, and he left a hole in our lives, but there will be another dog, soon.

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