Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Letting go of an elderly pet

For me, the hardest part about being a pet parent is deciding when to let go.  The actual letting go is difficult, of course, and the grief has to be dealt with.  But deciding when the time is right is a horrible decision to make.

None of my pet children have died on their own.  I have had to choose the time to have them put down.  Yet I know that I would have been more devastated had any of my beloved pets gone off into a corner and died alone.

Belker made the right time apparent.  He was blind and deaf and had what I now know was canine dementia.  When I found him lying with his tail in his water dish and not caring. I knew it was time.  But still, 15 years later, I wonder if there was more I could have or should have done.

Marlie didn't give me any indication that he was ready.  But he clearly had dementia and seemed disturbed by it, endlessly pacing the house. Again, there is doubt.  Was he ready?  Or was I?

Now Rags.  But his situation was different and, to me, more difficult.  His problem was illness, not age. 
I treated the Valley Fever and it got better.  But the damage to his kidneys was irreversible.  Cats, I am told, can live long and comfortably with kidney disease.  Not so, dogs.

So I did what I could, and more than I could really afford, trying to save my friend, my companion, my fur child. I spent the Labor Day weekend fussing over him, treating him with medicine, loving and holding him. 

And it became apparent that I was doing this for me, not for him.  He became more and more frail, more and more tired, but always willing to let me hold him and hug him.  At least for a little while.  Those times became briefer and briefer as he just wanted to be left alone to escape into sleep.

And I knew it was time, though I didn't want to admit it.  He had an evaluation at the vet this morning.  I held out one last hope that his lab numbers would be better, that he was actually improving.  He lost only four tenths pound in 3 days.  That was a small victory, wasn't it?

But the vet called and said he was wasting away, that there wasn't anything more that could be done.  That it was time.  So I cried and held my pet, my child, my friend until he took his last breath. 

The vet told me Rags was lucky to have me, that I took good care of him.

No.  I was the lucky one.

1 comment :

  1. I am so sorry. I'm glad you had the chance to love him, though.