I’m faced with a difficult decision. My dear old pug, Coco, is going on 14 and his health is not good. He has significant nerve damage to his back and hind legs, he’s practically blind and deaf. He sleeps 99% of the time. He’s incontinent.
He doesn’t appear to be in pain. Then again, maybe that’s why he sleeps so much? Resting from what little activity he’s capable of? How am I to know?
He’s a fine old pug. He’s been my sole companion ever since Scooby Doo passed away four or five some odd years ago. He’s always been more of a sleeper than a runner, not that pugs are knows for running anywhere (unless it’s to the food bowl). He would thrash around a favorite toy but it’s been months since he’s shown any interest in toys.
I didn’t realize how much time and energy I poured into caring for him until the decision about his future began to percolate in the back of my mind. It formed in the depths of subconsciousness and grew until it nudged at my consciousness. We went to the vet who didn’t offer a recommendation one way or the other, except to support whatever decision I made. They did suggest that the only way to know about his back was to do an MRI, but I drew the line at that. At 13, he was hardly going to be undergoing any surgery and what good would it do to know? The prognosis wouldn’t change. So we went home.
And the thought took up residence in my waking moments. It was time. Then, of course, the doubts and questions followed. Was it? Wouldn’t there be a sign? He didn’t seem to be in any pain or discomfort, and he was still eating … but then again, he had difficulty walking, was incontinent, didn’t show any interest in his toys or playing, slept most of the time and frequently didn’t move for hours. What kind of life was that?
To be brutally honest … I was tired. Tired of cleaning up messes, tired of cleaning the dog, tired of carrying him up and down stairs, tired of looking to see if he was still breathing when he hadn’t moved from where he was lying all night or all day. I was tired of being on constant alert for “a sign”. I was emotionally exhausted. I am emotionally exhausted. I am tired. I am waiting for my dog to die. I am risking his last days being painful so I don’t have to make that dreadful decision.
And that thought tells me everything I need to know. I need to do the only thing left I can do for him. I need to let him go.