Confronted him: 12/22/2011
This is the most difficult thing I've ever done.
"And never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be."
- Sarah McMane
This went on for about 6 months. We were preparing to take him for his final visit to McDonalds and the vet in the next 48 hours and he simply went to sleep in his bed one night, and didn't wake up. He is the only dog I have had pass away at home, and I admit I felt guilty for perhaps making him suffer longer than necessary, but I have to believe he wanted to be at home with his doggie sister, and his complete people family.
It sounds like your girl is getting close too, and I hope you enjoy every day you get to spend with her from this point.
Knowing when is the right time is the most difficult thing to try to determine, I believe ... it is a heavy weight, to carry the responsibility of these four-legged creatures who depend upon us for their everything.
I, too, have a 13-year-old (-ish) dog with neurological degeneration issues. I recently had to accept the fact that she can no longer go up and down the stairs unassisted (which she did numerous times a day just a few months ago), and get her a special harness to help her. She absolutely refuses to be much distance away from me when I am home, and sleeps at the foot of my bed ... which is of course upstairs. This is hardly a burden for me physically - it is much heavier upon my heart, watching the hands of time at work on her condition.
Tushnurse ... I have to admit, "outloud", that in some ways I pray that this is what happens for me. That she passes peacefully on her own. I think that is the only way to avoid the doubt as to whether it was the right time. That said, admitting that feels selfish, too ... because I would never want her to suffer. I struggle with this particular swarm of ideas quite a bit.
But, what I also hope is that you, TTCD, as well as myself, that we can push those thoughts aside and cherish every day we have. Every minute of every day. They are all a gift ... and as one who works in animal rescue, I will also say that you loving your dog the way that you do, and providing for them in their senior years the way that you do and have, makes your dog a very lucky one indeed. The envy of many, many dogs ... trust me, I know about what I speak.
All dogs go to Heaven ... and the people who love them and are there when they need us the most, well ... they go there, too, I think.
Fooled twice - almost exactly 10 years apart.
Glad things are going better ...