How Do You Know When It’s Time?

This summer, I had to make the heartbreaking choice to put my dog down. I had lost pets before, but never had to be the decision maker.  I had watched so many of my beloved clients go through this, and lost many dog friends. But again, not my choice.

I knew when I got giant dogs they would not live past 8-10 years old. I was lucky that my Newfie, Bunny lived to age 10. She had a tumor on her spleen that ruptured, and the emergency vet told us that we should put her down that day. It was horribly sudden, and I was lucky to have a vet friend come to my home to do it, and lucky to have PACE to come take her remains away.

With Argon, my 11 year old Great Pyrenees, I had to make the choice. Argon had Addison’s Disease, which we were managing with steroids and monthly injections. The bigger issue was with her back legs and hips. Topping out at 137 lbs, that’s a lot of weight for an old lady to lift up each day. Our wood floors were covered with yoga mat paths to help her gain traction to walk from her bed to her bowl to the door, which helped in the beginning, but she still struggled.

Over the month of May, Argon got worse. We’d have to help her cross the street (pool noodles work for so many things!) and her feet began to bleed from her dragging them on the concrete. Often when she’d squat to pee, her back legs would give out and she’d sink to the ground. So sad to watch, and so hard for a super independent dog to have to be lifted up to poop.

In the first week of June, my husband and I sat on the floor with the dog. She could not really get up on her own. Neither of us wanted to make this decision. We had talked to vet friends, trainer friends, and talked about it over and over again with each other. He looked at me and said “We just need a pet professional to make this decision for us.” I then realized, I am the pet professional. I thought about clients I had seen come in, where I had thought “I do not think it is fair they are making this dog live still”. When the back feet drag on the ground, when the dog never gets up, when the legs give out. These are all signs. I had seen the signs in my own dog for a month, but since I loved her so much, I did not want to say goodbye to her.

Once again a vet friend came to my house to put my dog down. I am lucky to have a lot of vet friends. If you don’t, and your personal vet does not offer house calls, I strongly suggest having someone come to the house to do it, like Petcalls or one of these places.

Both times, we used PACE To come get our dogs. They returned the remains to me within a week, and were so kind and professional.  I could not bear to walk my dog into a vet clinic one last time, nor could I lift my dog’s body to take her someplace.

This is one of the most awful decisions I have ever had to make. And I know that as a life-long dog owner, I will have to make it a few more times in my life. I will have to watch clients, friends and family, my employees and other loved ones, make this decision. And it will be heartbreaking every time.

Know that I am here to be your “pet professional” when this time comes, if you need me.

Liz, Owner, Canine To Five

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