Wednesday, July 19, 2017

There Comes a Time For All Things

I have made my peace with death, and most people have not.

All I can tell you is that there is more to living than longevity, and sometimes the best gift we can give those we love is a dignified end that is free of pain, confusion and fear.

And so now we come to the old dog, the ancient hound who now lies arthritic and deaf.

What do we do here? How will we know when to say when?

There is no clear answer, other than to keep your eyes open.

If the dog refuses water, it is time.

If an old male dog has blood in its urine, it is time.

If a dog cannot stand on its own due to failing joints, it is time.

Do not let the dog live in pain.

Recognize that dogs are natural stoics, and what looks like a little pain may be a great deal more than that.

Which brings me to the most important point: Be early, not late.

A week early, and not much is lost; your much-loved dog slides off to sleep still free of anxiety, pain, and fear. It is a gentle thing, I assure you.

A week late, however, and you have needlessly tortured your best friend because you were unwilling to face the inevitable.

In the end, it is your job to stand for the dog, and to put the dog first.

This is your last duty.

Don’t fail him now.


Peter Apps said...


Donald McCaig said...

Dear Patrick,

Vicki Hearne said (My paraphrase): When a dog becomes its illness, it's time.

Donald McCaig

Rick said...

Excellent advise, I agree 110%. You've said it better and more succinctly than I could, and I have nothing to add, except this: When my Mother was in the final stages of breast cancer, before the Alzheimer's could turn her into a zombie, she told me and my Step-Father, only half-jokingly, "I wish I were a dog, and then y'all could just put me down."

Krigsrotte said...

This resonates particularly strongly with me right now. My country's law prohibits euthanizing pets that aren't terminally ill (or human-aggressive, but that's not the issue here). My creaky old girl can still get up - but it's a struggle. She's getting shakier every week, even with painkillers and supplements. Right now I'm discreetly asking around for a vet who'll agree to put her down before she falls apart completely. Discreetly - because not wanting to try ultrasounds, acupuncture, or some other ~miracle cure~ makes me a heartless soulless bastard who shouldn't be allowed near animals.

If I put her down too early, I'll be the one to suffer. If I'm too late, we both will.

Jan Dohner said...

Perfectly expressed. I will save this and send it to people when they have need of this wisdom.

Aaron said...

Well written, especially the last three lines. I can't agree more.

Ruth Hansell said...

I know many dog lovers who have regretted keeping their dogs alive too long. Never heard anyone say they wished they had waited longer to end the dog's pain. Not once.