How do you know when it’s time to say good-bye to a beloved friend and companion for the last 13 years? How do you know when it’s no longer wise, or compassionate, or caring to keep that beloved companion with you any longer, no matter how much you wish she could stay forever? When is it time to say, “No more medications, or tests, or anything…….it’s time to say good-bye?”
This is Lady
I first found Lady at the Humane Society Animal Rescue Center near the airport in Charlotte in the summer of 2000. I’d been in Charlotte for a year and a half, and been in my new house in the University area for about 9 months, and I was feeling ready to bring a dog, or dogs, back into my life. I really wanted a golden retriever, but when I passed a kennel with these 2 shepherd-mix puppies, I paused for a moment. Reading the sign on the kennel, I realized they were scheduled to be put down the next morning unless someone signed up for play time; in that case, they’d get all their shots and be kept awhile longer. Being the softie I am for dogs, I knew I had to do at least that, so I signed up to come back the next morning for to check them out. And naturally………..I ended up taking them home. 🙂 Because really, who can resist 2 adorable, playful puppies (they were sisters)?
Sadly, Lady’s sister passed away in an accident a couple years later, but Lady has been with me ever since then, through a period of devastating depression, meeting my wife and her daughter, our wedding and the birth of our younger daughter, the ups-and-downs of owning a small business, and all the good and bad things in life.
Lady is Showing Her Age and Sick
As I write these words, I am unable to hold back the tears, just knowing that Lady may not be with us much longer. She was diagnosed recently with Atypical Cushing’s Syndrome, which is treatable, but she also has stenosis of her spine, making her back legs not work quite as well. She’s a lot stiffer, and is starting to have difficulty just going up and down the 3 steps on the side of the house when I take her out. When she lies down now, sometimes I see her slip and hit the ground a little hard, and when we’re going for our walks every morning and night, she is stumbling much more frequently. She’s having difficulty controlling her bladder, leading to numerous accidents in our new home, and on hard-wood floors, that’s really not good. The doctor tells me we need to test to see if the dosing of her medication needs to be adjusted, and that should stop – trying to set that up for this Friday. Honestly – we purchased our dream home this year, and we can’t have the floors ruined – they would cost a fortune to replace. But I don’t want Lady to spend her last months or years stuck in a crate 2/47, either.
But even if the medication fixes the bladder problem, there’s not much that can be done for her spine. And I’ve seen that getting steadily worse over the last few months – this weekend, when we were running a bit, she nearly took a bad fall on a perfectly smooth, straight street.
She’s Too Old to Adopt Out, and I Won’t Put Her in the Pound
So I’m stuck with this horrible dilemma that is breaking my heart. Pretty much nobody will adopt a dog with only 1-2 more years (probably at the outside) to live, and medical bills to pay. And I’ve thought of what it do to her to be put in the pound anyway, because she’s always been neurotic and skittish. At her age, being surrounded by a lot of other dogs going crazy all the time, that would just be too cruel. But neither can I keep her crated non-stop except to take her out for food/water/exercise, and neither can we let her keep having accidents that could ruin the floors & cost a very large sum to fix. And yet…………..she’s still alive and has energy and wants attention, and she loves our walks and when we come home, she’s so incredibly happy.
I know the time to say good-bye is probably coming close…….but how am I supposed to have the wisdom to know when? How do I know when it’s finally time to say good-bye? And how the HELL am I supposed to have the strength to do it? Because right now, it’s just ripping me apart inside.
BTW – any advice on how to prepare my daughter Elizabeth would also be much appreciated, because I have no clue how the heck I’m supposed to tell her that it’s time to take Lady to “sleep.”