Phil and I are one of those couples that are, usually, sickeningly, in sync.
We like a lot of the same things, the same people irritate us, and we both try to convince the other that “shovelling is fun!” but neither of us actually believe it.
But lately we are at odds and we just cannot seem to agree on a looming decision.
When Maya was a puppy, we found out that she had severe hip dysplasia and that after a few years, she would probably be in so much pain that we would have to put her down. It was a lot to take in as we looked at our 8 month old puppy, but we decided to make the most out of whatever time we would have with her.
We talked about a lot about it, if we could afford the hip replacement surgery (the answer is no), and how long we would let her live in pain. We both agreed that we would make a decision that would be best for her – we didn’t want to force her to live in pain just because we couldn’t bear to say good-bye. We knew it wouldn’t be easy to do, but figured we would just know when it was time.
Turns out we were wrong – we have no idea.
I think that we are past that stage now; that we have been at that stage for several months. When I look at our dog, I see a sad, sore dog who doesn’t move much because it hurts too much to do so. She lays on her bed all day, and only gets up to have a drink of water, go to the bathroom, or if there is any possibility of food falling on the ground.
I see a dog who, when she does get up and walk around, struggles to do so. She has lost so much musculature in her hind quarters that she often doesn’t have the strength to keep her back legs under her. She takes small steps and only lifts her back feet enough to barely clear the ground. If she walks down the steps too quick, or takes a corner without enough care, her back legs just collapse under her. We have laid carpet all over the floor because she can’t navigate the hard wood floors anymore without falling.
I see a dog who breathes like she has just run a mile, when she has done nothing more than roll over.
I see a dog who is old and sore and it makes me incredibly sad.
Phil, on the other hand, sees a dog who still gets excited when some food falls on the floor. He sees a dog who is still up for going for a walk regardless of the effect it will have on her. He sees a dog who is only 10 years old, and the thought of putting her down makes him very sad.
It’s not an easy thing to decide when you put your dog down.
We took her to the vet last month to try to get to the bottom of her – ahem – intestinal issues, and the doctor told us that her pooping is the least of our worries with the way that she is moving around. During her exam, he noted that she has lost most of her muscle tone in her back half. We grilled him about how to recognize when its time, and he told us to take emotion out of it – to mark on a calendar whether each day is a “good day” or a “bad day”. When the bad days outweigh the good days, then you know its time to let her go.
When I asked him what a “bad day” looks like, and he said when she doesn’t have any interest in doing much or doesn’t want to play and just lays around all day, because she is too sore to do anything else.
Maya was at that point about 3 years ago.
I am ready, I will be heartbroken when we have to do it, but I know that her pain will be over.
Phil is not, and that’s not a decision I can force on him – so I try to show him, to make him aware of her pain – when she sits down, she stands up, when she walks up and down the 2 steps to go outside. But this just upsets him, and he thinks I am trying to push this idea on him, and he gets mad at me.
I don’t know which is right.