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Jakkal's Ramblings

The Equal Opportunity Offender

November 14th, 2013

Aging Dog @ 05:34 am

So, I have an issue with one of my dogs. Specifically it's Midnite. Yes, she's still alive, and that's kind of the problem. She's a 16 year old Shepherd Mix (She's most likely a Border Collie/Lab kinda breed, though both of her parents were mutts so it's hard to tell). Regardless she's a 70lb dog that's seriously elderly. And unfortunately, she's not giving me a really compelling reason to have her finally put down. See she's actually pretty healthy given her age and situation. But I wouldn't be posting about this if she were entirely healthy.

She has /really/ bad arthritis in her hips and legs, to the point that I don't think she can bend her knees very well anymore. She walks very peg-legged, with her back legs stretched out and doesn't bend them at all. Sometimes she walks on the top of her feet, which makes me think she can't even feel her feet. She also had two 'doggie strokes' last year (Which are not as debilitating as human strokes) but this has left her with a permanent head tilt and she's super dizzy. She's also deaf.

She also cannot hold her waste anymore, and has to wear diapers all the time. She's constantly urinating and defecating on herself. And here's the kicker, because she's so dizzy, I can't put her in the bathtub to wash her. She will drown herself. And there's no hose pipe for us to use here so I can't just take her outside and spray her down. I've had to bucket-wash her in the kitchen which is backbreaking, and I don't think it's good for the floors either.

Suffice to say that despite the fact that she's still somewhat healthy for her age, she's super clumsy. She's constantly falling over things. The only way for her to get up is for me to lift her up. And she's a heavy, heavy dog for just me. For the past few days I've had a really hard time walking her because she keeps falling on the way to the grassy area, and when she falls, she's falling on concrete. Suffice to say I'm really worried about her falling and seriously hurting herself.

When she falls in the apartment, she flails wildly and yelps and squeaks until I get her up. The problem is that she continues to wander around the apartment aimlessly ramming things and falling over more. I cannot get her to just stay down. I don't know if it hurts her to lay down or what, but she just wants to do nothing other than wander around the apartment and slam into every door, wall and piece of furniture here. (She almost shoved my trashcan over the other day and that's another issue between having the two dogs that would love to get into said trash).

With Trakker, it was a difficult, yet logically apt conclusion to put him to sleep. After $1200 trying to help him, they said that his kidneys were just shutting down, there was nothing they could do, there was nothing I could do, and it was very obvious he was in serious pain. So I had to get him put down.

For Midnite, she's just slowly working her way into dementia. I really don't want her to suffer, but at the same time when I see her, it just doesn't seem like there's much wrong with her. I feel like I'm wanting to put her to sleep to make it easier on me - so I don't have to keep picking her up, so I don't have to keep cleaning up after her.

She was also Bow's dog and loved him to death. She still looks out to the parking lot and just stares to see if he's coming home (She used to do this all the time before when it was about time for him to get home from work). She's not been the same.

I guess I need some reassurance that putting her to sleep is the right thing to do, or someone to slap me and tell me I'm being terrible for thinking about it. I think I can safely say that she's not happy. I'm not sure what to do for her.
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Date:November 14th, 2013 11:56 am (UTC)
to me this is a quality over quantity issue. And really with what you've described it doesn't seem like she has much quality left. can't walk a straight line, can't hear, can't stay upright on her own, possibly can't feel her feet, can't lay down/get up on her own..

If it weren't for the falling down & having to stay there because you can't get up on your own part, I'd say MAYBE there was a decent amount of quality left. But what happens if she falls & you're not home?

you have to ask yourself "Is she still ENJOYING life? Or just dealing with it?"
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Date:November 14th, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC)
"I feel like I'm wanting to put her to sleep to make it easier on me." Honestly, it doesn't sound to me like that's what you're doing. So, imho, here's your reassurance that you're doing the right thing, even though I know it's a hard decision to make.

Vic wanted me to pass this on to you: Sorry to hear of the troubles Midnite is having. I went through a similar time with my Lab named Patches. Eyes still full of life but the body was just not willing it seems. He also had arthritis of the back legs, trouble standing and bathroom issues. They did have a pill that helped with the arthritis but only really for a few months before the condition just worsened again. It was a hard decision but it came down to what was best for my dog and life long friend.
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Date:November 14th, 2013 03:21 pm (UTC)
I think the fact you are considering it and asking us says a lot. You are questioning her quality of life. I can't say you should or shouldn't, I don't feel that I should say defiantly one way or the other. That's a choice only you can make.

However. Sometimes it's better to do it while things are still somewhat good. Rather then waiting till they are really bad (or get worse). Sorry you are having to make this decision and go through this. :(
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Date:November 14th, 2013 05:22 pm (UTC)
I went through exactly the same thing with my 14 year old shepherd last year. From the description of dizziness, the "doggie strokes" are almost certainly a case of "old dog labyrinthitis" an inner ear problem. It comes on very suddenly and I also thought Rain had a stroke at first. It may improve a little right after the first onset, but the effects are permanent.

Rain was around 80 lbs, and she also had severe issues with her hips. I have two steps to get into the house and she would stand at the bottom, swaying and swaying... trying to figure out how to get up them with her painful hips and spinning head. She would fall almost every time she went down them. I built a ramp, but she was terrified of it. Getting her in and out to potty became a marathon. I attempted to help her on the stairs with a towel sling, but she panicked and flailed midway down and both of us ended up in a painful heap. I could not get her in and out of the car without help, she was just too big and prone to panicking.

She had also gone deaf, and I think it was the deafness that finally caused her to become extremely anxious. She would stand in the middle of the room shaking and swaying, and she would panic if she lost track of me. I could pet her to try and soothe her but she could not hear me telling her what a good girl she was. It was the anxiety that made me decide to let her go, being constantly terrified is no way to live.

What I finally decided is that we were making each other miserable. She was reading my distress at her distress and it was making her MORE distressed.

I think you know that it's time. It is NEVER an easy decision to make, but if she is not happy, it's time.
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Date:November 15th, 2013 10:24 pm (UTC)
That sounds so very much like my situation. I tried the towel sling once too, and we both ended up falling over each other as well.

I never thought about the 'making each other distressed' angle. That really does put it in perspective. Thanks.
Date:November 14th, 2013 06:12 pm (UTC)
You said it yourself, you don't think she's happy and you need a little help making the right (if hard) decision. She may not seem that bad just looking at her, but animals tend to not show their weaknesses and all the other signs point to her issues. You're (understandably) holding onto the good you can still see, but it's a quality of life question, and hers doesn't sound good even with an attentive caretaker.

It's your choice in the end of course, but I'd be standing with you if I could.
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Date:November 14th, 2013 10:37 pm (UTC)
It is always a tough decision. You will always worry you are doing it too soon, or too late. She is your connection to Bow, but Bow likely would not have wanted you to keep her aloive if she isn't happy just because of that. Here is the way I usually talk to people to try and make it more objective (it is never completely objective, but sometimes this helps). Think of five things she loved to do in her prime. When/if she is no longer able to do 3 out of those 5 then it is likely time. It sounds like this is the case. "She's not happy". So, this is your reassurance that it would not be the wrong things to do.
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Date:November 16th, 2013 02:47 pm (UTC)
The quality of her life is no longer there, or in such small amounts that it doesn't seem like a good life any more. People often hate the "put yourself in her shoes" saying when referring to their pets, but it's one that has put much needed perspective into situations like this. What would you want if you were dealing with the same problems she was [assuming you had the same options of live or be put to sleep humanely].

Arthritis for any creature is painful. It's painful 24/7, and there's no escaping it. You walk, you're in pain; you sit, you're in pain; you lay down, you're in pain. This is especially true if it's within the hips and shoulders, as any movement, any weight being put on those joints is just pain.

It's rough, but I think you need to admit to yourself that she is not healthy. A healthy elderly dog would be able to do normal dog things with only a some assistance. Perhaps has some problems with arthritis, some trouble with elimination in the house sometimes. But this sounds like she has severe arthritis, and is always having accidents on herself and in the house.

I definitely agree with Wontolla's statement of "making each other distressed." Honestly, I don't see much quality to the life she's living right now. I know you take great care of your dogs, and I know you treat them with respect and would do anything to help them [as you did in Trakker's case], but no matter how good the care is, I think her quality of life has severely gone downhill. You need to ask yourself "Would I be happy with my life if I was always in pain, dizzy, deaf, falling down, messing myself all the time, and running into objects?"

I could see if she was otherwise healthy but had problems with her bowels, but compound all these issues, you most definitely would not be putting her down simply because you don't want to keep picking her up or cleaning up her messes.
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Date:November 17th, 2013 11:46 am (UTC)
If you believe in any kind of afterlife, it might be some comfort to think Midnite would join Bow again, leaving all her aches and pains behind?

Jakkal's Ramblings

The Equal Opportunity Offender