Dog Blog Number 4. When is it time?

When is it time?

The worst decision any dog owner has to make is when to put your faithful companion down. No matter how artfully or carefully you phrase this, it’s still killing your dog. That’s how I view it. I read on several of my dog Facebook pages how people drive their beloved friend to hamburger joints and ice cream venders to get them one last treat on the day they’ve “selected” to kill their pet. Honestly, this horrifies me.

First, are they making this date, choosing the day they kill their dog, you know the animal who trusts you as god, because it’s convenient for you? Let’s kill Fluffy on Tuesday because Monday is bad for me, I have a doctor’s appointment, and Thursday is bad because Aunt Emily is coming to visit. Or is this the day you vet had an opening to kill your pet? Seriously, would you put Grandma down on a day convenient to yourself and her doctor or on the day she told you she’d taken all the pain and suffering she could?

I’ve had to put a beloved dog down twice this year. The first was my 200-pound mastiff. She stopped eating. That’s a huge piece of the puzzle. When an animal hides under the porch and won’t eat anything, they’re finished. If they still happily load into the car, swallow six burgers and an ice cream cone, they’re not. You’ve arbitrarily decided for your own convenience to kill your faithful, trusting friend.

The second dog I put down this year was a pitbull/lab mix I had for 18 years. He had a gross tumor on one of his back feet. His back legs got steadily weaker until his back legs were paralyzed, and he could no longer stand up. He weighed about 80 pounds and still wanted his food. He still wanted hugs and kisses and love. He didn’t care we had to load him onto a dog bed, drag him outside, and roll him into the grass. He pooped and peed when we took him out. When he’d had enough and was too tired to go on, he stopped eating. He looked so apologetic when he refused his food. He’d always been the sweetest dog, the best dog. He came whenever you called him. He could jump a six-foot high fence easily. To see him so debilitated was heart-wrenching, but I waited until he said he couldn’t do it any more. They tell you.

I have a pitbull I rescued. Her name is Happy. Happy has advanced breast cancer. She’s on a lot of meds. She was eating until yesterday. I’m taking her to the vet today, not to put her down ( a euphemism I loathe), but to see if there’s anything else I can do for her. Just because your dog’s infirmity is inconvenient is not a reason to put it down. Give them a chance. Here are seven criteria I follow when judging when they’ve had enough gleaned from the American Humane Society. Not when you’ve had enough of taking care of them. When they’re ready to go.

  • He is experiencing chronic pain that cannot be controlled with medication (your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet is in pain).
  • He has frequent vomiting or diarrhea that is causing dehydration and/or significant weight loss.
  • He has stopped eating or will only eat if you force feed him.
  • He is incontinent to the degree that he frequently soils himself.
  • He has lost interest in all or most of his favorite activities, such as going for walks, playing with toys or other pets, eating treats or soliciting attention and petting from family members.
  • He cannot stand on his own or falls down when trying to walk.
  • He has chronic labored breathing or coughing.

And I would go even further to say just one of these shouldn’t be enough. In other words, falling down only shouldn’t be enough. Labored breathing, shouldn’t be enough. An incontinent dog might have kidney problems. It alone shouldn’t be enough. My biggest indicator is when a dog who always scarfed their food up, suddenly stops eating. And make sure it’s for more than just one feeding. I’d wait two or three days, then decide. Always know, euthanasia is never chosen by the dog. You’re making that decision for him and in many cases, this decision is made because their pain and suffering is inconvenient. Choose wisely, your dog trusts you.

The Dog Blog

Dog Blogmoregon

I think I’ve become an expert on dogs which probably means I’m not. However, I have nine, many rescues, and they have taught me bunches. Owning lots of dogs is not as easy as you would think. Dogs are like people. Each has a different personality, different problems, unique health and mental health issues. Fights can break out at any moment for no reason you can perceive between two dogs you thought were compatible, and there is always one dogs who is ready to join in on any fight not of his making. Vigilance is key. I also believe the dogs have to respect me as their leader. I am the head bitch in my dog world and each dog knows this.

I don’t have to be mean, just on top of things and I feed them. Dogs respond well to the person flopping the food bowl on the floor twice a day. Which brings me to feeding time. Feeding nine dogs is always a challenge. There are nine different bowls to fill and I try to make the dog’s food healthy and tasty. Dogs are like people. They need something to look forward to every day. They also need routine. Routine is as important for a dog’s health and wellbeing as it is for humans. My father was a huge believer in routine, something he learned in the military. My dogs know they get fed when I get up and they love it when I put my feet on the floor and climb out of bed. For some ot them, especially the rescues, the knowledge of food every day makes them feel safe and secure and helps with anxiety and other PTSD-like disorders rescued animals can have.

I’ll introduce my first dog to you. She’s a seven-year old English mastiff named Moragon. We call her Moose. She weighs 200 pounds and is extremely aggressive which is why I have her. Her former owners gave her to us because the neighbors were afraid of her and she wasn’t trustworthy on a leash; as in she lunched random people you met on the street. Moragon’s owner had severe PTSD from serving eight years as an Army Ranger Medic. He managed to pass it on to Moose. Animals like her, she’s very empathic, pick up on your emotions and often emulate them. Mastiffs are also protective, so she felt he needed her protection because she sensed his weakness.

Moose rarely causes trouble. Like most mastiffs she’s laid back, lazy, and slow. The heat really robs her of energy and is even dangerous for her. Last year her hips started bothering her so I finally took her to the vet who she tried to bite (of course.) She is now on an anti-inflammatory with a painkiller, and glucosamine with MSM. We’ve seen a huge improvement in her over-all ability to get around and go up and down stairs.

I have a rescue pitbull who was horribly mistreated that for some reason attacks Moose every once in a while. It’s never good for the pittie who has almost no teeth and is outweighed by over a hundred pounds. These are the kinds of things you must always watch out for when you own multiple dogs.