Question: Dear Luise: I have a lovely dog that is getting old and frail. She’s in her “teens” and she is losing her sight, mobility and appetite. She sleeps a great deal and I can see that she is uncomfortable. I don’t believe in prolonging the life of a pet for selfish reasons, yet she still expresses so much love that I have no idea when I should step in and let her go. Can you help? Don
Answer: Dear Don: This is such a tough place for you and your dog to have to be. Yet those of us who love them have to go there more often than we would ever choose to because the life span of dogs is so much shorter than our own.
You probably have asked your vet this question. I am assuming that you have given your dog the best of care and nothing can be done to slow this process. Most vets will tell you that you know better than anyone what the diminishing quality of your pet’s life is and where to draw the line.
I have seen people so terrified of losing a pet that they’ve kept them too long and brought about needless suffering in the name of love. It has always looked pitifully selfish to me. If we are going to have a dog, or any pet for that matter, we have to be willing to be the kindest of guardians, always.
Check you dog’s eyes. Hold her if she’s small or sit with her if she’s not a lap dog and talk with her. Ask her she is ready to go. Her eyes will tell you what you need to know. There will be sadness there and pain but there will be trust as well. Tell her that you care more for her well-being than your own and you are ready to thank her for everything she has brought to your life and free her. What you will see and feel is her gratitude and relief.
I am weeping as I write this because I have been there so many times, and will be again. Whatever your faith is, extend it to your dog and consider the possibility that she is from the angelic realm and came to teach unconditional love. Blessings, Luise