Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When Do You Decide it's Time to Say Good-bye?

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your DOG.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours faithful and true 
to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be WORTHY of such devotion!

Gautille Family 1996--Pirate 2-years old

But what happens when you have to decide when he has the last beat of his heart?

If you have read my blog, you know that I absolutely adore three things in my life:  my husband, my children, and my doggies!

We currently have three dogs.  But the dog I want to talk about is our oldest dog, Pirate.  Pirate was brought into our family 16 years ago.  He without a doubt is the smartest, sweetest, most loyal dog I have ever had in my lifetime.  

A year ago, I thought we were going to lose Pirate.  His health was failing, he separated himself from the family--stayed in our bathroom, slept 90% of the time and had a difficult time with hind leg weakness and pain.

We brought Ellie into our home a year ago, and the once slow, old, sleepy, recluse dog came back to life!!  Ellie brought life back to Pirate, and in turn Pirate protects her, he taught her the ropes as it relates to house training, he loves on her.

Ellie brought a bounce back in his step, he began to hang out in the living areas with Ellie and Ducati (Adam's dog, who currently lives here).  

He was playful.
He started to swim again.
He played, chased, loved...
We really saw a remarkable fullness of life back in our sweet old Aussie.

THEN, in one year we saw an incredible transformation in Pirate--a sweet puppy reinvigorated him through the course of a year.

But a year later, we now see a very confused dog.  His hearing is going, his eyesight is fading, he seems to walk in circles...not quite sure where to settle or where he belongs.  He has also forgotten the house training he taught Ellie just a year prior.

There are days he just wants his head rubbed and does not want to leave my side, and then there are days when he sleeps, eats, goes outside and then sleeps again.

If he were in pain, this would not be a difficult decision.  Selfishly, I can't stand the accidents he has on a daily basis in the house.  He doesn't seem to even know he has done something wrong. Did I mention that he jumps in the freezing pool?  We have blocked off for fear he won't be able to pull himself out of the pool.
So the $50 million dollar question is--How do you know when it's time to say good-bye.  We mentioned to our kids that we need to start to prepare for the inevitable with Pirate--and now the kids have labeled us murderers for even considering the thought of putting Pirate down.

Everyone says the dog will tell you when it's time.  We will get a signal from him that we are keeping him more for us than for his health and well-being.   So for now, we love this confused, wandering dog, who delights in a head or butt rub.  He sleeps most of the time, but seems content  being close to us.  (The pooping in the house the vet said is a sign of senility.) 

I love this dog so much, and don't want to let go too soon.  

So for now, I Lasso every moment with Pirate!