Senior Dog Days

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Are we doing the right thing?

As a pet owner, it is the hardest question you ever have to deal with. Unfortunately, it is a question you will face at some point. At what point do you have to extinguish the light in your friend’s eye because there really isn’t a better option?

It is a question we faced today and may face again in a few days.

Long story short, Rocco appears to be having some vision issues making it harder for him to get around and he seems to be afraid to walk on his own. Got him the regular vet today but they recommended sending him to the vet hospital where they have options to do more and better tests and have a range of specialists.

In these days of COVID, we are not allowed into the vet areas. Which means you have to leave your friend and wait in your car until someone calls to let you know what they’ve found. Like all people in this situation, I was certainly hoping for the vet to come back with an easy answer and an easy fix. Of course, this is reality and that rarely happens – especially in an older dog who’s also dealing with a few other health problems.

Because vets have to give you all the options, she did mention the option we don’t want to think about. That’s when you have to ask the question – are we doing the right thing. Is it worth it to go to a different place for more tests. I know some people might not and I can’t judge anyone for the path they take. For us, it was just a matter of not knowing what was wrong. I’d rather get the answers and then make a decision.

The tests weren’t conclusive (when are they ever?). So we have clues and a couple of possible options but nothing definitive. We had to leave him in the hospital overnight for observation and so he can see his specialist in the morning. Then we have to develop a plan and ask that awful question again.

At his age, we kind of know we are living on some borrowed time. Logically, you know that dogs don’t live forever. But logic goes out the window when it is your dog and you are being forced to consider that question.

I know it comes down to our perception of their quality of life. But how do you judge if a dog is happy? I’ve read lots of things about this because we’ve had other dogs and faced this question before. Someone tried to apply a systematic approach – looking at the activities they love and how many they can’t do anymore. But how do we know if that really matters? As we get older, new activities can take the place of things we used to do. No, he can’t go for long walks anymore but who’s to say he isn’t just as happy with the short ones?

It has not been an easy day. I know there is no magic wand that can wipe away all of his issues and turn him back into a young and active dog. I know we are nearer the end then I’d like. I know that we may only be buying a little big of extra time. I don’t know what the right thing is. I only know that right now does not feel like the time to give up on him. I don’t know if we’ll hear anything tomorrow that will change things.

We wait. And try not to think about that question.

Not yet! We need more time.

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