Friday, December 9, 2011

The Right Time

We're taking Ruby off her medicines.

They don't seem to be doing much good, and they're making us all miserable -- including, I suspect, Ruby. She's been on diuretics and heart medicines for almost two months. The diuretics mean she must be walked every hour or two, and she drinks constantly. She's become increasingly prone to having accidents, which upsets her as well as us. I don't think she understands why she has to go outside so often.

More to the point, her belly is once again filling with fluid, despite the drugs. So we stopped the diuretics a few days ago. We'll continue the heart medicines as long as they last, and when they run out, we'll stop those too.

Basically, we're giving up.

Are we doing the right thing? Well, I've read enough online from owners of other dogs on similar medicines to know that our dog, for whatever reason, simply isn't responding. Other owners say their dogs improved markedly. Ruby hasn't.

She's also lately resumed having strange, agitated "sundowning" spells in the evenings. They don't happen every day, but when they do, she pants, wanders around the house, drinks and licks herself compulsively, and shakes as if she's cold or scared. She seems confused and uncomfortable. It's doubtful this is related to the drugs, because she had a similar episode soon after arriving in England, before starting medication.

Ernie, meanwhile, is beyond the reach of any medicine, as I've mentioned. We're just biding time with him.

The vet has already talked to us about putting them both down. Yesterday I e-mailed her and said we'll probably do so after the holidays. I'd like to see them through Christmas, at least, so Dave can spend time with them while he's off work.

On the other hand, they both still eat -- in fact, Ruby eats ravenously -- and they both seem eager to take their daily walks. It's so hard to know when to take that final step. I don't want to wait too long and cause them discomfort, but I certainly don't want to move too quickly.

I try to approach every day with a critical eye, assessing their condition. But it's easy to start seeing everything through a lens of illness -- actions that might otherwise go unnoticed, like sleeping all morning, now might suggest a problem. Are they sick or just old and lazy?

If the "sundowning" becomes more frequent or severe, we'll put Ruby to sleep promptly. If anyone stops eating or seems to lose enthusiasm for life, we'll do the same. Until then, the holding pattern continues-- now with no pharmaceuticals.

(Photo: Battersea, on Saturday.)


  1. I'm so sorry to hear this. It must be difficult to be watching and abiding with two dogs who are so ill. My thoughts go out to you both --

  2. It's a tough call. I'm glad there are two of you to make these decisions. I'm sure our time is coming for the same sorts of questions, but for now we are just enjoying every day with Jake. I say Thank God each morning when he slowly stirs and reminds me he is still here and ready for breakfast!

  3. I've got tears in my eyes contemplating your dilemma. But you sound very sensible about the decision-making. Although there is no need to let them suffer, you guys are taking such good care of them.

    My word verif. is "straight" - wonder what that means? Maybe it just means that I'm straight - or maybe it means that you're on the right path. Who knows what wisdom lies in a random letter generator?

  4. Oh, dear. It always comes down to difficult decisions, doesn't it? Whatever you and Dave decide to do, and when, I know one thing for sure: you've given Ruby and Ernie a wonderful life, and you've "been there" for them in a way that any living creature would appreciate.

  5. I'm sorry to hear about the decline for both dogs, and I know you both are doing the best you can in a difficult situation. As someone with a house full of elderly cats, I empathise and I'm always glad when mine eat and show
    enthusiasm for play or company. I wish you both and the dogs enjoyable holidays.

  6. Awww Damn! Sweet pooches! You are right, of course, let them call the shots and when Ruby is just trying too hard to make you happy at her own discontent time for her to go get a new doggy body- if indeed that is what happens. So sad. We really set ourselves up when we adopt and they adopt us! Very difficult !! Peace.