The dog has been incontinent since Wednesday – without warning he just stands up and goes — and since he does not move at all it is doubtful he got into anything. After an awful, disgusting incident Sunday morning, we are keeping him outside until we can gt him to the vet after the holiday weekend… That aside, he rarely seems happy anymore – he hates going outside to go to the bathroom, has his ears down all the time, and really only shows excitement at meal time and occassionally when someone appears. He hasn’t been able to get up the stairs to lay next to us in the TV room for months (he loved laying next to us in the TV room before his hips go out). Sometimes, he doesn’t get up when someone is at the door or even wag his tale and left his head when he gets pets. And Wife M and Daughter L are starting to think of him as less than enjoyable, what with eating his own poop if he is left unattended and incontinence and overall dementia… I think he is happy 5-10% of the time and pretty miserable over 90% of his waking hours… In short, I think it is time to strongly think about putting him down… I’ve never enjoyed owning dogs — they are a lot of work (and I do most of it) and don’t bring me a lot of joy although I love them and consider them part of the family. I don’t feel badly about this – I can’t help how I feel, and I take care of them (I give them pets, I feed them, I pick up their poop and often am the only one to take them for a walk) and the family more than covers for me in the dog love departmentent. But I don’t like the slobber and the panting and the mess and the smell. Luckily, I am not mean to them, and as I said the rest of the family truly adores them, so it is all good. But that said, it is emotional to think of putting the dog down. As I said before, he is part of the family. But is it fair to let him be miserable? I don’t think so. And I truly hope that in the decades to come that if/when I am in a state of dementia my family has the courage — and the legal right — to let me go.
I am pretty certain that if our 12 year old yellow lab were human right now, he’d be wandering around the neighborhood in his pajamas and slippers, he is that confused. Which reminds me of the time my elderly great uncle was playing cards with us when I was 19 or 20 – he was slightly confused during game play, so to tease him I turned my cards around so he could see them, knowing he’d still give me the cards I needed (we were playing gin or 31 or something where one player can benefit from an opponent’s discards). Sure enough, my uncle discarded a card that I needed to win and the table erupted with laughter as I won. I feel badly about that now, 30 years later, watching our confused old dog – it is mean, even in good spirits, to tease someone who is old and confused. We should feel nothing but sympathy for them, and soon enough that will be me (if I am lucky enough to live that long).
I love our yellow lab, but it is not like he was ever a Rhodes Scholar. So it is pretty difficult to confirm whether he is getting dementia at age 11. I looked online for signs of dog dementia:
* Excessive licking…
* Inability to learn new tricks.
He has all these – but he has had them since he was a puppy. 🙂
R had just finished 1st grade and L kindergarten when we brought that fuzzy yellow lab puppy home for the first time. He grew quickly, and was with us — getting into all kinds of mischief — as we went on family trips, family outings, moved a couple of times and went through the absolute fun madness that is living in a family of 4 high energy people.
Now T is old. He has gone from sprinting away at every opportunity to barely able to walk on our walk. As I type this he is wheezing in a deep sleep on the floor behind me, a place that he occupies probably 22 hours a day. Honestly, I am not all that sure he knows where he is half the time. At the same time, our kids are so close to college. All the family pancake breakfasts and the family Mexican food dinners and the family pizza/movie nights in front of the big screen TV are in the past.
It makes me very sad. Those days when everything I did all day every day was about the family are gone, and I just don’t want them to be. I truly hope that I am allowed to keep those memories forever (dementia* is truly an awful thing).
* Note about warding off dementia: My wife read that balancing can help prevent dementia. So the yoga moves where we balance on one foot, trying to steady myself on a boat — those help ward off dementia. Who knew?? And who the heck thought to study that?? I’ve (literally) taken to standing on one foot when brushing my teeth or making my morning coffee.