Friday, December 30, 2011

Day of Decision

Ruby had a rough night two nights ago -- panting, coughing and gagging for breath. I've already mentioned the various worsening maladies afflicting both her and Ernie.

I have been very hesitant to take the final step toward ending their lives. Making that decision seems unnatural to me. But I guess that's the point -- sometimes you don't want to wait for nature to take its painful course.

So Dave and I have decided to take the dogs to the vet today and have both of them put down. Dave feels very strongly that we should intervene before their lives get any more uncomfortable. After Ruby's rough night, my hesitance has eroded, and I think I do see signs of pain in both of them. I know our vet also agrees, having spoken to us candidly about euthanasia already.

Obviously I'm torn up about this. I love these dogs like crazy. And poor Dave has had them much longer than I have -- he got Ruby ten years ago and Ernie a year later, when both were already adults. (We can only guess how old they are.)

It may seem strange or wasteful to take the trouble to prepare the dogs for overseas travel and move them all the way to England only to have them euthanized less than three months later. I've questioned that decision too. But I remind myself that we gained significant additional time with them -- and also allowed them to live three more months in the U.S. than they would have had if we'd put them down when we left New Jersey. (Also, when we began this process at the end of March, we didn't even know Ernie was sick.)

It is impossible to know when it's exactly the right time. They still wag their tails, and Ruby eats like a truck driver. On the other hand, they have all the problems I've already mentioned. And admittedly, I am deeply tired of the pills, the salves, the blood, the urine, the constant walking, the dementia, the continuous stream of laundry, and my inability to leave the house for much more than a few hours. Our quality of life is just as important as theirs.

It's funny that I've often wondered which dog would go first, and it now appears they'll go simultaneously. In a way that's better -- they won't miss each other. But it's certainly harder on us.

We've given them good lives. Now, it appears, it is time to give them a good death.

(Photo: Ghost of a dog? A doorway off Portobello Road.)


  1. My heart goes out to you both. I had to do this with one of my cats and it was heart-wrenching.

  2. So sorry - but I know you're doing (have done?) the right thing. And I think it was a great decision to bring them over - you know that you've done as much as you can for them & that they were much loved.

  3. i know this is hard day, but take comfort from knowing that instead of a hasty decision back in the US before you left, you allowed time for all of you to be together in a slower way, and to say your goodbyes. the end was not ever going to be easy. and only you and dave know when the right time is. sending love.

  4. Dogs will never let you know on their own. Especially inside dogs that can't go away to a quiet place. I think Utah would be wagging his tail and eating like a starved sumo wrestler to this day. At some point there are tough decisions to make. I often think I waited a year too long with Utah, he was so hobbled and incontinent. Your critters are at peace and they no longer have to worry about letting you down with a mess, which I think is probably what weighs on an aging housebroken dog the most, disappointing their humans with their little accidents. No dog wants to disappoint.

  5. I'm sorry for your and Dave's loss. I also know you're making the right decision to give Ruby and Ernie a merciful end rather than waiting until they're both entirely miserable. There's something to be said for going out on a strong note.

    I also know you made the right decision to have them with you these past few months. These past few months have been precious: time well-spent.

  6. So sad. When we put down our family dog and I was a wreck. I was just a teenager when it happened. I remember my mother was set against it. I had to beg and plead with her and in the end she couldn't go with us because she couldn't handel it. She made us wait too long. He had skin cancer and the toumors were clearly visible. He was visibly depressed which was terrible to see. As I said she made us wait too long.

    Your doing the right thing. I can't imagine what it's like losing both your babies but for them I think it's proably best. As a previous commenter said, they won't miss each other.

    My thoughts are with you and Dave during this difficult time.

    Ms. M

  7. Steve, Dave,

    This just breaks my heart and fills me with sadness. However, you're doing the right thing and don't doubt that. When you look back, it'll be a comfort to know they had full, long lives, full of love, and without pain.

    du courage.

  8. It's never an easy decision. The day we had Dylan put to sleep, I made him a huge bowl of scrambled eggs and he ate every last bit. He just couldn't walk any more.

    I worry constantly that Jake's last days are coming soon.

    I wish you ease in doing what you know is right. You and Dave have given them a good life and they have loved you with devotion in return.

  9. Oh, dear. I am so sad and sorry to hear this. Peace to you and your dear ones.

  10. Much love to you both, I too have been there before and know what a hard choice it can be. Dad and Hope had to put down their cat during the Thanksgiving holiday it was hard to hear my Dad in tears on the phone. Wish I was there to hug you both.


  11. Oh Steve! I am so sorry. I was actually reading your bottlecap post and this bit had me running back to previous posts. Breath. What a loss. I hope you are doing well. Sending healing thoughts - for what it's worth. xo

  12. your last line is so true - you gave them good lives and a good death.