Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend...

“Ingratitude is treason to mankind.” James Thomson

Sunday 24 April 2011

*Insert swearing here.*

My beloved girl dog was, up to her thirteenth year, an absolute cracker; she ran and jumped and I was regularly asked if she was a puppy. She has been in decline for almost a year. First, she began to drag her front left paw. When I got home from New York last October, she had a disconnected look in her eye and wouldn't be held, preferring to pace and wander. Her gait became increasingly wobbly and crabbed, and she fell over. She began to sleep on the floor to the side of the cushion in her bed, with just her head resting on it, and no matter how much floor space I filled with her cushions and blankets, she lay to the side of them.  She lost an alarming amount of weight and we fed her up and she put some of it back on again, but remained wizened and shrunken-looking.  She failed to respond to commands she had known and followed all her life. She stopped grooming herself, which meant I had to have a surprising discussion with the male vet about gynecological hygiene.* She developed a series of opportunistic ailments which meant she was pretty much always on a bland** diet.

Despite having been in and out of the vet's office over and over again, nothing out of the ordinary was found and pretty much everything has been chalked up to age. I've seen three different vets (from the same practice) for three different reasons over the last six weeks, and the last was the only one to tell me that my dog probably had a lesion on the brain and I needed to think about my "options" sooner rather than later.

On Good Friday I had a total and complete meltdown saying we'd have to have her put down on Saturday. The next day. What if she were suffering out of office hours and we were forced to ring the emergency cover veterinary service while our usual vets were enjoying their Easter holidays? Hi, you don't know me but can I come over so you can kill my dog? Will you take a cheque? Then, taking advantage of a brief gap in my wailing and rending of garments, we took her for a long walk in the park and she seemed perfectly fine, so who knows. By perfectly fine, I mean no worse than normal. Does that mean I've acclimatised to her being this fucked up and I'm prolonging her discomfort? She seems to enjoy eating and going for walks still. Is that not a good enough reason to let her carry on? That, and the fact that I am a gibbering, blubbering wreck at the prospect of life without her?

I've adopted the totally mature adult emotional response of eating stuff I don't really want and compulsively wandering about the intertubes, reading, browsing, shopping and lurking. I exhibit the demeanour of someone who reasons that averting their eyes and whistling means it isn't really happening. Lalalalalalalalalalalala can't hear you lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala. So that's working then.


*Not mine. Ha ha she laughed cheerlessly.
**Read "homecooked." She's probably doing it on purpose for the good grub, the wily minx. As if I want another three fresh meals to prepare daily.


  1. oh p.b., i am so sorry. i don't think a decision like that is ever easy and you shouldn't beat yourself up over feeling reluctant to "face up to reality". let's face it, reality often sucks. take your time, think things through, feel them through, and you'll come up with a decision you can live with.

    i wish i could tell you something profound and wise but that's the best i can do. take care!

  2. I can't tell you the number of times our dog went to the vet to be put to sleep....and then brought home again.

    You will know when the time is right. You will feel it absolutely in your gut: 'this is the time.'

    As someone who worked with a whole load of Veterinary surgeons, I must say that putting a dog to sleep is a very dignified ending for them. Even though it's hard for you.

    Would the vet be prepared to come to your home to do it for her in a familiar environment perhaps? It's usually all over by the time the needle is removed from the vein. It's that quick.

    If she seems happy enough in herself and not in pain, then you don't need to make a decision yet.

    Difficult, difficult situation. My heart goes out to you. But you will know when it's really time.

    Very glad to have you back in the blogosphere.


    Ali x

  3. PC: Funny you should say that. The vet (the Grim Reaper vet who apparently is the bringer of all bad news, and hello? have the others been paying attention?) said something like "In 15 years of veterinary practice, I have only seen this a handful of times. Sometimes life really is rubbish."

    Ali, that is tremendously reassuring. I'm bizarrely pleased to hear that sometimes you just can't bring yourself to do it.
    Her condition is apparently not associated with pain, though she may start seizing, which I think would indicate it was time to do something. At the moment, she is eating and walking, and those are generally okay indicators that life is not yet intolerable.

    So nice to read these comments, folks.

  4. I meant to add that, yes, the vet can come to the house, which is a huge relief. (Er, should I be driving to and from this appointment? Probably not.)

  5. Oh, I am so sorry. No clever advice, just really sad for you.