Thursday, April 29, 2004

Devon, the faithful and (as far as the kids are concerned) omnipresent dog, is not well. I learned from our vet that Devon has a hyperadrenal disorder, which will require blood tests and (at best) daily medication or (at worst) surgery. Before that can happen, she needs to have some teeth extracted and needs antibiotics prior to the teeth coming out. The fact that she can't keep food down, let alone medicine, doesn't bode well. I have decided that Devon's time is up.

What a hard, hard decision. I've never taken a life or encouraged someone else to take a life, even for humane reasons. This is quite a step for me, but one that seems so, so necessary. Devon is in discomfort, as evidenced by her demeanor (snarling and snapping when people pet her in the wrong place or try to pick her up). She sleeps most of the day and eats very little. I'm sure it's her teeth that are the main source of her pain. When she seemed to be eating less and less of her hard crunchy food and losing weight, I started adding softer food (like toast, cheese and hotdog bits) to her bowl in the mornings. Even these treats (that used to be consumed ravenously) are remaining now. Poor thing - she's slowly starving as well as existing in pain.

Her fur has been coming out over the past six months, leaving her looking ratty and ill-cared for. Embarrassed to take her to a groomer before diagnosing the actual problem, we traveled to the vet yesterday. He diagnosed the problem (along with her voracious water consumption and numerous pee breaks) as a hyperactive adrenal gland. We both agreed that the required surgery on her decayed teeth and infected gums would be hard on her. The vet correctly left the decision in my hands.

I thought of just having Devon put to sleep without consulting or informing the rest of the family, but I decided against it. This sort of thing is a family decision. This evening, at the dinner table, I explained our trip to the vet and Devon's ailments and the condition she's in, as well as the possible options and the price it would extract from Devon. I told them of what I thought would be the best course of action and asked if they agreed. Teary-eyed, we all agreed that Devon needed to be euthanized. The girls, even at 10 and 12 years old, need to understand the humanity of this act. I preach to my kids that love can be defined as actively working to help someone's situation improve, even if that means going through some mental anguish yourself.

Banana surprised me by wanting to be with Devon when she is put to sleep. That will be a hard thing for Banana to be part of, but it is a request that I'm going to honor. It will be good for both of them.

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