Saturday

Your Dogs' End of Life Situation



When I was a young girl, around 8 yrs. old,my beloved Collie mix, Sandy died. I can still hear my dad telling Dr. Randall, '' Do whatever it takes, don't let my little girls' dog die.''
We had recently moved and I had not yet made new friends. Sandy was all I had and I spent my time teaching her to sit, rollover, dance, and even pull my Radio Flyer with me in it. She was the best playmate a lonely kid could have, I was devastated when she died. My dad,great guy that he was,painstakingly built a pine box to bury her in and made a concrete headstone that read, '
Sandy, More Than a Friend'....
Sandy was hit by a truck following me around the neighborhood in a city with no leash laws.
These days, most dogs don't meet their maker on the street, and as owners we often have to make the decision as to when they will die...
So when is the right time to say good by?
For us humans, the death of a beloved dog is never easy. I have had many dogs for whom I still ache, years after they have passed.
And to add to our pain we have to be the one to make the decision to euthanize them and when. Often we are plagued with the 'what ifs...
What if the doctor is wrong and they will get better...what if they won't, and you prolong the agony...we look pleadingly in the eyes of our sick or disabled companion for a sign to tell us when is the right time.
We stroke their soft fur as if feeling it for the first time, knowing it will soon be the last, trying to imprint on our brain every last detail of the dog we love so much. We talk to them and remind them of all the good times we shared...and we tell them how much we love them.
Dogs are,by their nature, very stoic and show signs of pain only when it becomes more than they can bear. That dog who turns into a big baby if you accidently quick a toenail is the same one who will hide a life threatening condition from you as long as they can. That is his survival instinct.
There is no easy answer to the if or when do I euthanize question. It raises moral and ethical issues.
If dogs are our companions and we their guardians, do we even have the right to euthanize? Legally, yes as dogs are legal property. Morally, I don't know. I am not comfortable playing God.
We have all had or know of a dog who should have been euthanized, wasn't, and then made a remarkable comeback. Puff is one of those. Often expense is a factor in the decision and with that comes tremendous guilt if you can't afford treatment, or tremendous financial burden is incurred if you decide to go into debt for the dog.
And another question exists...
Is there a point at which prolonging the dogs life is actual cruelty?
Some people base their decision on whether the dog would live in a natural/wild situation. But in the wild, isn't a good measuring stick because dogs have never lived in the wild, only their ancestors the wolf have and their cousins the African Wild Dogs.
Dogs are not so much a domesticated animal as an actual CREATION of man. We developed the dog to suit our purposes and we have a moral obligation to see to it that they live and die with dignity and humanely.
Just like with the rest of your family, you should plan your dogs' end of life situation ahead of time.
Ideally you have a savings account set up for emergency vet care. If you save 20 dollars a month every month from the time your dog is a year old you should have plenty to deal with future emergency vet issues. Most dogs don't cost thousands in vet care...there is always pet insurance but until one of the insurance companies come up with a dog health savings account plan with a nice interest rate , I am not interested.
Decide in advance if you want to bury the dog in the backyard or leave him at the vet to be disposed of.
They will tell you that they will go to Pet Love Memorial Gardens and give you a package to choose from...the economy package means your dog will be put in a garbage bag and dumped in a freezer until the truck from the Pet Cemetary comes and picks up the freezer full of dead animals. They will then be dumped in a mass burial grave. If this bothers you, I suggest you get a more expensive package where your pet will have an individual grave site.You can also choose the backyard if your city ordinances don't prohibit such a burial. Dog coffins of every type are easily available, from the upscale satin padded created by experienced cabinet makers to a pine box to cardboard. You can find them at reasonable prices from time to time on eBay. And you must check out Peternity http://www.peternity.com , it is simply the best site for pet memorials.
Cremation is another option. It has been said that when you receive your dogs ashes that they may contain another dogs ashes as some crematories don't always clear all the ashes out from the previous cremation. Personally I don't want my dog in an urn on the mantel,but if you do, I respect that. Some of my friends have scattered their dog's ashes in the dog's favorite field to say goodbye.
Planning your dogs' end of life situation will be one of the hardest things emotionally that you will ever do. But it will be easier on you both if you do a little planning in advance...and honestly...
there is no GOOD time to say goodbye, but hopefully you will find the RIGHT time.