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This week's topic is courtesy of one of the most knowledgeable dog owners I've ever met: Snowgoose. Her question: When is it time to "let go" with an old or sick dog?
She made her post on the last "anything goes" topic, but at her request I'm giving it its own headline in hopes of getting more feedback from the rest of our great community.
Here's her post:
WHEN IS IT TIME TO "LET GO"? :(
Hi dog blog buddies. I have a serious question and would like to see this topic get it's own "subject/topic" heading. I hope this is possible - I'd appreciate hearing from as many of you as possible.
When (under what circumstances) and how do you, or have you in the past, made the difficult decision to help a beloved pet pass over the Rainbow Bridge?
Do you believe in making this decision for your pet or do you wait until the pet dies on it's own at home, making it as comfortable as possible? If you assist, do you prefer to take the animal in to a vets office or find a way to help them pass in the comfort of their familar surroundings?
I am not "on the sharp edge" of this precipice just yet, but I can see it coming up in the near future (sigh). Yes, I've been there before - I guess anyone who's had pets all their lives has ... but I thought it would be helpful to hear how other people feel about this - and how they handle it.
Many of you have seen photos of our Great Pyrenees, "Buran". Our huge marshmallow of a dog who lives with, protects and adores our small herd of Pygmy goats. Well, Buran is over ten years old now and for a "giant breed" dog, this is sadly "getting up there" in age. He has gone downhill fairly quickly in just a few short months and although he is currently holding his own, we don't expect him to be with us through the summer. We had so hoped he would beat the odds and be with us MUCH longer. :(
Anyway, he is having more and more difficulty with arthritis (according to the vet it is NOT hip dysplasia but simply arthritis), and has pretty much lost the use of one hind leg because of the muscle atrophying due to lack of use. We can't FORCE him to use it so at this point the leg pretty much just dangles ... OTOH, he seems to be getting along OK without it. He moves a lot slower than he used to, but still makes his "rounds" of the pasture and still barks at any perceived threat, alerting (if necessary) our younger Pyr, Libby so she can go take care of the problem (sad smile). I guess you could say Buran is in simi-retirement status.
He would be miserable if we forced him to leave "his goats", so bringing him indoors is not an option. We have set up a heat lamp in his favorite sleeping area in the barn and added extra straw so he can be as comfortable as possible. Several of his little goats have chosen to switch sleeping spots so they can curl up with him on cold nights, which is sweet to see.
He doesn't seem to be in undue pain right now - there is no whimpering or panting and although he struggles a bit to get up or lay down using only three legs (he is a BIG dog), his other legs don't seem to be giving him much trouble. We do have him on a mild pain medication that is supposed to be helping with the arthritis . . . when this stops working for him, THEN we will have to think about alternatives (sigh).
Just sharing with friends who understand,
Snowgoose & the gang