We are dog owners, and we love our "babies." It can be tough (and messy and exhausting) to own a dog when children are young, but now that my girls are older, pet ownership is a real blessing. My teenagers don't greet me at the door with tails wagging (that would be weird). And they don't cuddle up on the sofa and gaze up at me with adoring eyes. There is nothing like the love of an animal.
Maddie Mutt, as we affectionately call her, is SEVENTEEN. Yes, you heard correctly. She can no longer see very well. She can't hear. She is incontinent. A few months ago, we made the tough decision to relocate her to the garage. We heat said garage throughout the winter, which, of course, leads to exorbitant bills. She also has a heated dog bed, a cute sweater, dog booties (that fall off regularly), and plenty of food and water. When we bring her inside, she must be on a pee pad, but it seems she has little interest in us anyway.
Iris, our ten year Jack Russell, used to sit close to Maddie. They played together and sometimes even slept side-by-side.
It seems Iris has said her own kind of goodbye. She has stopped paying attention to her sibling. Her only interest in Maddie these days is to swipe her leftover kibble.
We have a difficult decision to make and that is whether or not we should put Maddie to sleep. We scour the garage. Just today, my husband bleached and cleaned and scrubbed the space, and he laundered the bedding. The groomer suggested we not make appointments for Maddie, as the whole process might prove too painful (she is also arthritic).
Is this any way to live? No matter how clean or warm or well-fed, how happy can this old dog possibly be? Honestly, I don't know. How does one know when it's time to let a furry loved one go?
Our dogs are symbols of our marriage and our youth and our early family days, when the girls were still little. Maddie and Iris are in so many family photos. Still, when I touch Maddie, and she is sometimes unresponsive, it seems she has little left of her good dog life.