Putting Your Dog Down: Your Final Gift to Your Pet
It's never easy when the time comes to make the decision.
Mannie is a good girl. For the past 15 years, she has dutifully barked at the mailman, kept the yard clear of squirrels, and gave great full-body snuggles when she slept in the bed with me.
She is quick to moan her approval when you rub her ears just right, and would slip into high gear with a leg kick when getting belly rubs. WOULD, as in she used to kick her back legs. She can't kick her back legs any longer.
An injury that caused trauma when she was a pup that we weren't aware of that just took time to fully reveal itself? A degenerative disc disorder that is causing nerves to get pinched? Stenosis? Arthritis? The veterinarian isn't certain, but he is certain that she'll never use her hind legs again.
It's been over a year now that I have had to use a sling to lift her back end so that she can walk. Her front legs, until about a month ago, were working fairly well with little slippage.
As of the past week, her front leg use has been hit-and-miss. More miss than hit.
She eats well.
She still goes to the bathroom outside.
She still lights up when you call her name.
She still wags her tail when she recognizes your voice or your face.
But, she's miserable. She hasn't slept through the night in several weeks, waking up at all hours panting and whining. Her eyes are getting cloudy. She can no longer properly scratch any itch. She can't drag herself to her water bowl any more. She has to be medicated daily to counteract the effects of her diabetes, with which she was diagnosed a few years back.
Years ago when I got my first dog, Tucker, I knew that one day she would be gone and, more than likely, it will be me that would have to make the decision to put her down.
Tucker was with us for 15 great years before the seizures set in. My vet said that the epilepsy was due to tumors on her brain.
It wasn't easy when the time came to put Tucker down, but her condition took all of the guess-work out of making that decision. The last seizure she had was a big one, and it left her unable to wake up.
And, as much as it hurt to see that plunger being pushed, forcing the meds that will stop her heart into her veins, I knew in my heart it was the right, most humane thing to do.
You see, I have the firm belief that one of the greatest duties of pet owners is to protect their pets at all costs.
From training them to not run away from you (this will protect them from many things) to getting them checked out annually by a veterinarian, there are many steps that a dog owner must take to keep their dog safe.
"Safe" includes keeping them comfortable, healthy, and free from pain and misery.
My dogs get many gifts throughout their lives: the gift of a warm, safe home, the gift of a comfortable life, the gift of health, the gift of love, and the final, most difficult gift - the gift of a dignified death.
The decision to put down a pet is never easy, but it is a necessary duty that comes with the privilege of being a mom or dad to a pet. Every situation is unique, every decision about the subject is unique, as well.
Mannie will be making one more trip to see her friend Tal Guidry today so that he can facilitate her dignified death.
On the way, she will get treated to a Jeep ride with the top off, a fresh order of tater tots from Sonic, and lots of moan-inducing ear rubs.
I'll be holding her up her in my lap with her head on the windowsill so she can get a good blast of air in her face one last time.
I hope she feels as much love as she has given.
Thanks to Momma Keet and Aunt Jackie for helping me train Mannie as a pup.
Thanks to Dr. Tal Guidry and his staff for always giving Mannie the best veterinary care possible, and for putting up with my sense of humor.
A special thanks to Uncle Danny and Uncle Mike for the great care they gave Mannie when I was out of town.
And thanks to Shannon for being the best dog Mom ever.
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