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Old dog - How to make the decision?

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truthsetmefree posted 9/3/2013 10:55 AM

I'm afraid this post is going to make me sound like a horrible person. Please be gentle in your responses because this has been a long struggle.

I have two Jack Russells - 11 and almost 18.

I absolutely adore one of them.

The 18yo one - I love her and she is a sweet dog - but she has been difficult and high maintenance literally since the day she was brought home. How many times I think back to that second day when I clearly saw issues - and literally asked myself if she needed to go back. It has been downhill since. I won't bore you with all the details but suffice to say I have NEVER had a dog like this....and it makes me VERY hesitant to ever get another dog. I was only able to get the second dog because I figured "in for a penny, in for a pound" mentality...and I just didn't want the boys growing up with only this one dog as the example.

I KNOW this makes me sound horrible. I've tried to be a good pet owner in spite - and I've made LOTS of sacrifices along these almost two decades - despite never enjoying her. My dog, my responsibility.

Now to the issue...

She will be 18 in November. Deaf, blind in one eye, becoming very slow in the hips. But otherwise seems to be in good health and no pain. We've had about 3 incidences in the past year where I have thought, ok...we're here. But a round of steroids, a round of antibiotics, adding homecooked food - and she bounces right back. The sad/relief pendulum never stops swinging - if that makes sense.

The current problem is that she seems to have become incontinent...or senile - maybe both. She's ruining my rugs. I have to wash dog beds weekly. She pees on the deck, poops in the driveway, garage. There's no rhyme or reason so it cannot be predicted. It's nothing for her to go outside and then come inside and wet. The only "solution" I am finding is to keep her locked in the kitchen 24/7...and what kind of quality of life is that?

What do I do here???

I can see all these things that are quality issues - but then she doesn't seem unhappy or in pain. But living in the kitchen doesn't seem like much of a life either.

I cannot trust myself to make the decision in this area because my feelings are so conflicted - and only becoming more so when I've got to clean another spot on the rug. It doesn't help that I've just had surgery either - both in my emotions and in the physical act of having to get down on the floor.

Any help is greatly appreciated. I feel so matter how I look at this.

ETA: To clarify....she sleeps almost all the day. She gets up to either eat or go outside. There's little interaction - but then again, that's just her, too.

[This message edited by truthsetmefree at 11:02 AM, September 3rd (Tuesday)]

Undefinabl3 posted 9/3/2013 11:15 AM

I think you know the choice already, but fear that it is easier for you to let go because you are not that connected to the dog as you are to other dogs.

Currently, the 18 year old has a quality of life, but to what degree?

I think its time. Do not feel guilt over this.

LisaP posted 9/3/2013 11:43 AM

I had a old dog like that...I loved him and it was the hardest decision to put him at peace. Yours is at that stage now that mine was at. Now is a good time. Or you can wait for another incident and forgo treatment. This may help you make the decision with less guilt.

Don't feel like your making a mistake. You gave her a good, long life.

Deeply Scared posted 9/3/2013 12:49 PM


You were loyal to her for 18 years, despite not having a deep bond with her. I think you'll know when the time is right and I feel you'll be able to make a healthy decision for all involved because that's just the type of person you are.

You're a very loving and nurturing person...I have so much faith in you But I am really sorry you're faced with such a difficult decision. Go slow and listen to your heart and your head.

tushnurse posted 9/3/2013 12:51 PM

18 that is a loooong life.
Please don't feel guilt over your decision.

You need to value quality over quantity. If this creature is just existing, and not getting joy out of the world then it is probably time.

You can get her checked for a urinary tract infection, and if that is ok, you probably have your answer.

I had to make this decision 3 times in the past 2 years. It sucks. No matter how much we know in our heart it is time, it doesn't make it easier. But with my Dane, I did feel some relief, as she had the worlds most sensitive gut, and lemme tell you, you think cleaning up JRT messes are bad? Try a Dane.....
She had declined over the past 2 years of her life, and really the last 6 months, she didn't have much quality.
The other two that left me were a golden, and a my cat. I knew it was time, and for both of them had planned to take them the next morning, and they simply slipped away during the night. I still feel guilty for not making the decision sooner.

truthsetmefree posted 9/3/2013 13:22 PM

Thank you guys for the support (and for the sweet words, DS...that really means a lot to me )

I think, too, that I may only be looking at this in pieces rather than the big picture. I think the ONLY thing missing in this picture is evidence of pain...and I cannot be even sure that she's not in it. I do know that sometimes we have to bring her up the two small steps into the house because she cannot climb them. The whole back end has been getting worse at a very fast rate. And she has lost a lot of weight...she's very thin looking.

I've let both the boys (22,18) know we are preparing for this. (Neither live here though they've seen & know the decline.) I expected them to both be somewhat indifferent since they are both so preoccupied with their own lives...but they're both upset. I don't know why but I wasn't exactly prepared for this aspect. I haven't had to do anything like this with them yet. I'm finding it very hard.

Pentup posted 9/3/2013 13:35 PM

I suggest a vet visit and blood work if you can. The loss of weight and incontinence sounds like it may be kidney disease. Your vet could answer the pain question and give you some peace with the decision.

It sucks to be keeper of this kind of decision.

lieshurt posted 9/3/2013 13:39 PM

I think the ONLY thing missing in this picture is evidence of pain

My bff went through this in January with his 17 yo poodle. She was blind, deaf, toothless, had difficulty walking, incontinent and slept 23 3/4 hours a day. She also didn't suffer from any pain, but she had no quality of life. It was an extremely difficult decision for him to make, but in the end he agreed that sleeping literally all day every day wasn't "living", so he did the most loving thing he could do for her.

[This message edited by lieshurt at 8:36 AM, September 4th (Wednesday)]

inhishands55 posted 9/4/2013 01:24 AM

I had a cat that was almost 18 when I had to make the decision..He had stopped eating, was losing weight and I couldn't get his thyroid meds in him...He was so arthritic it wasn't funny...I know now he is running and playing like he use to..The only running he did was up and down the hall to the litter pan...Sounded like a herd of elephants..He knew it was time and if I had let him outside he would have went off and died..

He lived a very long life and the vet said he wouldn't have lived that long if I hadn't brought him in the house to live the last few years...

You had done your duty to your pet...You are not a horrible person for wanting to do the right thing...It is the most humane thing you can do for your doggie...

It is always a hard decision to make..I just made it last week with another kitty who had breast cancer..She had quit eating and it still hurts that I really had no choice..She was only 11 years old...She had had the cancer for almost 1 year..She had had two separate surgeries but it still came back and took over her body...I know I did what was best for her...I held her when she got her shot...She went peaceful...I still cry, she was my bedfeller and slept on my pillow with me...

You know when it is time and if you are in doubt ask your vet...My vet has always supported my decisions when it came time...If you are in doubt take your pet to another vet and get another opinion...Good luck with your decision...

truthsetmefree posted 9/4/2013 06:53 AM

Thank you again for the support and experiences. It's helped me to see that it may not always be an obvious choice (ie, crying in pain) but still a necessary and kind one.

She's more husband's dog than mine and when discussed last night, he felt it was time. He's noticed the decline more than I have - and especially these last couple of weeks. As he said last night, this isn't going to get better and we don't really want to wait until she's in obvious pain anyway.

Deeply Scared posted 9/4/2013 07:38 AM


You were on my mind last night...I'm so relieved that you and your H talked things out and came to a joint decision.

It won't be easy but I do feel you're giving her a loving departure that includes grace and dignity.

truthsetmefree posted 9/4/2013 08:04 AM

Thank you, DS.

Can't seem to get a hold of myself this morning.

Timing sucks too. Three weeks past a hysterectomy and the last day before changing my estrogen patch. Maybe I just need a good fat snotty cry. It just really sucks because its turning out to be so global - Last year, ten years ago, ten years from now. Ugh.

Deeply Scared posted 9/4/2013 08:13 AM

Sweetheart...there is never good timing to do something this emotional and close to the heart. You just have to take a deep breath and pray it's the right decision.

Your little doggie is counting on you both to help her to her next journey and as hard as this is for you, I know you'll find peace in your heart once some time has passed.


Mommato4 posted 9/4/2013 12:38 PM

It is understandably hard. I'm sorry you have to make this difficult decision.

I love JRT. I will spare you the details but I lost my 5 year old jack last November.


truthsetmefree posted 9/4/2013 18:58 PM

It's been done. We sedated her before the trip and she slept this afternoon wrapped up in her blanket in my arms. I don't think she ever even knew she was at the vets.

Thank you again for helping me through this difficult decision. I'm so very sorry for all of you that have lost beloved pets. Like I told the vet today, this part just simply sucks.

lieshurt posted 9/4/2013 19:16 PM


You did a very kind and loving thing for her.

Pentup posted 9/4/2013 19:53 PM

Oh with you. Love on your other puppy tonight and know you did the best for your little dog. Covering you in prayer

mysticpenguin posted 9/4/2013 20:27 PM

I have a neurotic crazy dog too. I get it.

Based on what you've written, I think it is time. She has no quality of life. She may live a bit longer but will she enjoy it? That is the question to ask. And I think you know the answer.


nekorb posted 9/4/2013 21:24 PM

(((Big hugs)))

We put our golden down in June. It was so hard, but it was also the kindest and most compassionate thing we could have done.

Thinking of you and yours.

Deeply Scared posted 9/4/2013 21:27 PM


I hope you're resting peacefully tonight...I'm sending you lots of love

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