Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tough Decision Ahead
It’s about the dog.
He’s 14+ years old. He arrived in our family when he was about three months old and my youngest was in third grade. Son and I had driven one Friday afternoon from St. Louis to eastern Kansas, spent the night in Lawrence, and then drove the next morning to Emmett, Kansas. The breeder lived on a farm (down a long dirt road from the highway and then over a log bridge), had nine children and raised two kinds of dogs – Papillons (or Toy Spaniels) and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. We were there for a Cavalier.
He’s been part of the family ever since. Thoeretically he was supposed to be my son’s dog, but parents know how that goes. Actually, my wife and I took the most care of him.
And now he’s 14+. The vet rather cheerfully tells me he has the heart of a five-year-old dog, unusual in a breed prone to heart trouble. But he’s mostly blind (cataracts), mostly deaf, arthritic and with a tendency to have his back legs collapse from underneath him. He gets a pill for anxiety; he has “accidents” if he can’t see either my wife or me in the house. He spends most of his time now in his crate, sleeping.
His little face is almost pure white. At the kennel, they call him the old man.
The youngest, formerly that third grader who’s now graduated from college and working, came in from Kansas City last weekend. He knew it was likely the last time to see the dog. That’s why he came.
So, it’s now time for a decision.
And I don’t want to make it.
I’ve called the vet, and I’m waiting for the return call. My question is: how do I know when it’s time? What do I look for? Do I wait until the infirmities are overwhelming or do I do something sooner? The dog is still getting around, but each day is a little harder.
No, this is not the worst decision I’ve ever faced. But it feels something like that.
And I’m making it the usual way – by trying to avoid making it.
I will eventually do what’s best for the dog, and I already know what that is. But there may still be a few weeks yet.
But not much longer than that.
Over at Faith Barista, Bonnie Gray had been hosting a jam on a number of topics related to faith. Last week, the topic was “Can Faith Change Your Personality?” This week, the topic is “making tough decisions.”
Photograph: Me and Cody, about three years ago, by Janet Young. Used with permission.