Tag Archives: senior pets

A Difficult Decision

Just saw a FB post from a shelter who received a 12-year-old Lab X  as “an euthanasia request” and that just made my blood boil.  I can’t believe the casual cruelty — giving away a dog simply because she had grown old.  THROWING away an animal that had loved you and your family for a dozen years.  Abandoning a thinking, feelilng being because she wasn’t “good enough” for whatever reason to continue sharing their home. 

I don’t really know WHY these people left the old dog at a shelter, but the posting said there were no obvious medical issues.  The posting said nothing about a family forced into a difficult decision because they had lost their jobs and couldn’t afford a dog.  There was no mention of losing their home and being forced to live somewhere that wouldn’t allow even an old well-behaved dog.  However, because the request came from the people surrendering her to have her put down, I’m going to assume she was given up simply because she was OLD.

When we bring a dog (and most other animals) into our lives, we know that barring misfortune or accident, we are going to outlive the pet.  This means we will see our pet die, and in many cases have to make a difficult decision about how and when that will happen.  It is sheer cowardice and horribly unfair to the dog to avoid that responsibility and shove it off on anyone else. 

In my adult life, I’ve had to bring 2 cats and a dog to the vet to end their suffering.  I’ve had one cat die in my lap because she went into a coma on a holiday weekend and didn’t seem to be in any pain that warranted a visit to the emergency vet.  In every case, I stayed with my pet stroking and loving her until life was extinguished. My current dog and cat are getting up in age and I know before too long I will have to make those difficult decisions again.  But that’s part of sharing your life with an animal.

There are many kinds of avoidance.  A neighbor told me he took his dog to the vet and handed it over to be euthanized, but couldn’t bear to be in the room. So, his dog spent her last moments away from him with almost-strangers who she was probably afraid of.  The man was thinking of how he would feel, but he is a thinking human who knew he was doing what was best.  Did he think of his poor, old dog who, I am sure,  spent her last minutes looking for him?

I once saw an even worse (though still similar) abandoment at close quarters. I was volunteering at the Humane Society when a very old Golden Retriever was left tied to the outside door (for who knows for how long?) for the staff to find.  He had bad hips, and a number of other problems, and was in pain.  The people who left him clearly expected the Humane Society to put him down, but because he was just left (instead of signed over) he was officially a stray,  The staff couldn’t do anything for him until the 7-day-wait of a a stray was up.  I spent a couple of hours with that old boy.  He was a real sweetheart and loved the attention, but every time a door opened, his ears and tail came up hopefully and he looked for “his” people.  And every time it wasn’t them and the head and ears and tail drooped again.  How many times did that happen to that poor dog in the 7 days he had to wait?

I have no patience with people who try to avoid this final decision and its consequences.  Yes, it’s hard!  Yes, it hurts!  We love our animals and if it didn’t they wouldn’t be our beloved companions.  I cried buckets each time, and I’m crying now as I remember.  I cried as I petted and loved that old Golden. 

All I’m saying is that if you can’t stand the heat don’t make the decision to go into the kitchen.  Count the cost before getting a pet. If you truly love your pet, you will love that pet — and do what is best for him or her — until the very, very end.

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