Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Every dog has it's day, and Devon (our dog) has had a few extra. Her time with us is just about up. She is no where near the active, friendly, ever-barking dog she once was. We've noticed that her energy level had dropped substantially as of late. Devon is quiet, almost to the point of not knowing where she is in the house, even if she is right behind you. Her fur is looking awful - it is thinning out substantially and has bald spots along her spine, on her hindquarters and around her neck. Her back legs shake when she stands still and she finds it hard to jump up onto the sofa (which she's not supposed to do anyways but does). She's lost about 30% of her adult body weight and feels quite bony when I pick her up. Her stomach is quite weak as evidenced by the dog puke she leaves for us when she gets a treat that she can't handle. She can only eat dry kibbles (regular dog food) and not much else. Devon has always been a dog that has loved her treats (dog biscuits, toast crusts and the very occasional scrap of cheese) are the only treats she gets, but lately, unless it is something really tasty, she's not too interested in taking it when it is offered.

Is she enjoying life? That's something I wonder about all the time. I feel she is definitely at the end of her days on this mortal coil, but when will the end come? And will that end come quickly, or will she get to the point where she can't get around comfortably, or can't keep any food down? I've considered that she might be close to that point, as I've sat beside her when she was resting, and heard her wheezing (in pain or discomfort?) as she lay still. Is she at the point now that life is no fun for her? She constantly needs to be around a family member when we are home, even more than she did in her adult years. I'm almost scared to take her to the vet, as they may recommend a bunch of intrusive medications or procedures to prolong her life, but not add to the quality of it. Devon has already had a bunch of teeth pulled and I fear that she may need more dental work. If she had more pulled, I doubt that she could eat solid food, and her stomach couldn't take anything else - she'd throw anything else up.

One of the things that I have considered is euthanizing her. I'm uncomfortable with this for one reason - I would have to be the one to make the decision and the one to actually take her to the vet for the final time. Also, the question comes to mind of "how much suffering is too much suffering?" We enjoy her company, but I don't want just her existence to be a burden to Devon. The girls would miss her (as I would, too).

Life is something that is a great gift - even for a dog.

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