Saturday, February 27, 2016

Good Dog Gone Old

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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.

That is until you're facing the end of an animal's life.

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.

What do you do when your good dog has gone old?


  1. Oh Suzanne. Our Molly the dachshund lived to be 16. She was in similar condition at the end. She finally had to be put to sleep when she couldn't get up one day. We realized once she was gone that she had probably been in pain for awhile and we didn't really realize it. They go through this process so slowly and without's hard. If it makes you feel any better, I really believed that Molly was better off when she was at peace. It's so hard to let go but if they could speak they would tell you that they don't to live that way. I really believe that.

    Molly was also the symbol of our kids' childhood. That's one of the hardest things.

    I'm sending you my sweet thoughts because I know it's painful.


  2. It's so hard. We had to put our Yorkie to sleep less than a year ago. She had so many issues and we tried everything. We made the decision two days ahead. When we got to the vets she could hardly breathe. It's terrible but sounds like you have no choice. Hugs

  3. Over the years we have lost several long time pets. The ones that were with us when our girls were little were the hardest.
    You never forget them.

    I am so sorry you are going through this.

  4. In all my years of "blog reading"', I have never felt compelled to comment...until now. My criteria for when an elderly pet was still enjoying a good life has always been: sill eating and drinking, still urinating and defecating without much difficulty, experiencing limited to no discomfort, still enjoying life with the family, even if on a limited basis?
    Physical ailments, pain meds, vitamins, minerals, supplements, benign masses, diapers, limited mobility, the creaks, moans, smells and every other side effect of aging?...easy to handle..not a problem at all for something we love as dearly as we do our pets.
    That being said, there's a time when every animal "tells us" when it's time to be released from life on earth with us. Look for animals eyes have always told me. Life is meant to be enjoyed and cherished. When your pet no longer feels the love and experiences the joy of's time. I truly believe that allowing our pet the dignity he/she so rightfully deserves is our responsibility as a conscientous pet owner, and that we're so very fortunate to have the option of releasing them when it's time. It's very difficult to get our feelings out of the way of our head with such a difficult decision, but keep in mind Maddie's best interest. Having been moved to the garage, she's sometimes unresponsive....I think you know it's time.

  5. How sad. I guess you have to trust yourselves enough to know when the time is right, whether its in 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks. Whatever you do will be the right decision. She has had a long and loving life. But it might be so tough. xo

  6. AS difficult is this is for you, I think you already know the answer to your question. As you mentioned, Maddie's life is not what it used to be, and it seems Iris has already accepted that. Maddie may even think she is in the garage because she is no longer wanted, or being punished (for the pooping and peeing). (You and I know that isn't the case, but do dogs know?) Anyway, I have had dogs all of my life, and several lived to be 16, and I too, had to decide when the time was right. You'll know when, even tho your heart will be breaking. It NEVER will be easy. Take care....


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