For 12 years our yellow lab drove me crazy. Did I love him? Yes. Was I the one who fed him, walked him and picked up after him? Yes. But did he drive me crazy? Yes – and I drove him crazy, too. I loved him, and sometimes my heart swelled for him, but the times he had accidents in the houes, shed all over my clothes, would get out of a gate that wasn’t quite latched all the way, and would bark (literally) at shadows drove me crazy sometimes. But there were times too — especially when I was healing from my illness – I took comfort from him sleeping near me while I rested on the couch.
Today we said goodbye to him. It was time. He had arthritis, dementia, incontinence and was basically unhappy (ears down_ all the time and lived only to eat twice per day, which isn’t a great life. So after discussing it for months, we did it today. It was incredibly peaceful. The vet had a room with a couch and a carpet and pleasant lighting. She spent 10 minutes petting him, then gave him a sedative. When he was so drowsy his tongue was hiding out of the side of his mouth, she administered the sedative while we petted him and told him he was a good boy. He died moments later.
That was three hours ago, and even though I am not a big lover of dogs (I like dogs, I just am not a worshipper of them) I feel awful for him and there is a hole here. In short, it is painful. I miss him already. Hopefully he is at peace.
The book I wrote about my experience as a dog owner when I like dogs but am not crazy about all things dogs. There won’t be a sequel – it’s too painful right now 🙂
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).
Our 11-year-old yellow lab T has started getting up at random intervals during the night and walking up and down the stairs before settling back down outside our room. What is going through his mind when he does this? I’m not sure. But a funny new quirk in that funny, quirky dog… 🙂
Our 11 year old lab T is flat out old. Not on-the verge-of-death-not-knowing-where-he-is kind of old, but unpleasantly old. For example, he used to lay at Wife M’s feet, his legs tucked beneath him, his head resting on one paw, lifting his head alertly if anything caught his attention but otherwise silent and still. Now, he lays at Wife M’s feet, his four legs splayed out on either side, his head plopped on the ground, smacking his lips with an occassional belch that seems to come from an unspeakably deep place in his digestive system. The entire display is quite unpleasant, and kills my appetite for breakfast 🙂
Our dogs are well-trained – as long we issue them the right commands. There are certain commands (“Stay,” “Fetch”) that are doomed to failure. But there are some (“lay down”) they are great at, as long as we issue them while they are already in the act of doing them. Otherwise, we are screwed. I am sure there are great dog gratiners out there. But we aren’t some of them 🙂
There is no justice in the world – just ask the 1,300 pound cow that gave its life so my 80 pound dog could eat tonight. Although it probably makes no difference to the cow, I offer a word of thank you to said cow on behalf of my dogs…
When we got our dog T, wife M was wise enough to carve out a small area of our backyard and mark that as his toilet, so only a small portion of our yard is soiled with dog waste at any given time (I pick it up 1-3x per day to keep it reasonably clean, although I can’t imagine what it would look like under a blue light). But today it dawned on me that in addition to being a toilet, that this area is a stuffy graveyard… What happens is we buy the dogs a stuffed toy, they play with it for a day or two, then carry it out with them to use the bathroom. T, of course, plops his toy down next to his toilet, then promptly forgets about it when he trots back to the house, so over time the stuffy gets soaked with rain and (even worse) dog urine. Initially, we are diligent about T dropping the toy before going to the back yard, but eventually someone forgets (or one of the kids lets him out unattended), and the process repeats itself. Over the past few months, 4 or 5 of these stuffies have accumulated in his area, so that today it looks like a graveyard of broken down and discarded dog toys. At one time, I collected them, washed them on “sanitary” setting, and returned them to the dogs, but in addition to my feeling guilty about the waste of clean water to do this, I’ve discovered this is fruitless – within a day or two, all the stuffies have gathered once again in Dog T’s toilet.
When we left for vacation 3 weeks ago, our lab was old but reasonably functional. But in the three weeks we were gone, he aged an awful lot. He barely gets up anymore, even for food, and is having a difficult time finding his food bowl and gets confused that it is okay to eat. In the three weeks, it is like he went from an old person who is a little confused at times to drooling in a wheelchair. He was loved in our absence (our son and our dog-crazy friend watched him) and exercised daily during that time, but it is like the character said in The Sun Also Rises, it happened gradually then suddenly. So it seems to be with our dog’s aging. Poor guy.
A new app can now track whether a dog walker is walking the dog. But brother strikes again… What happened to trust? Where we trust that 90% of people do their jobs, so there is no need for micromanagement? We all worry about Big Brother, but perpetuate it by tracking everyone and everything. 😦