We can all agree that this is tough. No matter the decision you have to make, it requires research, consideration, contemplation and sometimes a little soul searching. I am grateful that I have not had to make too many major decisions for my dogs.
My first dog, Chloe, was a 6 lb. Yorkshire terrier who came to live with me in 1990. I knew absolutely nothing about dogs. My lack of knowledge included getting one (breeder), taking care of one and living with one (I think that covers every category). I made every mistake possible without actually causing harm to my pet. I used a retractable leash, fed her grapes (lovingly cut in half for her tiny mouth) and did not even consider training. How did I pick my vet? A postcard I got in the mail. (Add to that he was extremely good looking and I was single). As luck would have it, he turned out to be an awesome vet and to this day, I can call for advice even though we live in different states.
My first major ‘dog decision’ was having Chloe spayed. I cried all the way to the vet’s office and back because, after all, who was I to take her God-Given right to bear puppies away? What if there were complications or her tiny little body couldn’t handle surgery? I felt like I might be getting her ready for the pearly gates. My relief when the vet called with an update was overwhelming. Chloe lived to be 13 years old, despite my ineptness.
A few years later, we added a tri-color Border Collie (Mattie) and a Golden Retriever (Georgia). Both rescues settled nicely into our family after the incubation period. Mattie was a Frisbee dog who could jump 10’ in the air to catch one. Georgia was a mischievous GR who literally trashed my house the first time I left her alone.
Although Chloe and Mattie are no longer with us, Georgia is still part of our family. At nearly 16, she is partially blind (with no depth perception), partially deaf and unable to get up on her own but she still flashes that golden smile! We have taken the best possible care of her (no grapes for this girl!) and nurtured her to this ripe old age. As I look at her, I know that a very tough decision is looming on the horizon.
THE toughest decision a pet parent has to make… determining when your dog is suffering and no longer enjoying life.
People make decisions in different ways. Some, after receiving a difficult diagnosis, accomplish things on their dog’s bucket list to commemorate his/her life. For us, that is not possible. We brought “G” home at 13 months old, and in the blink of an eye, she was nearing her 16th birthday. Our goal is to keep her fed, lavished with love, comfortable and happy… putting off that big decision.
In the meantime, we have to make another major decision. Our gorgeous GR/GS mix is facing surgery. Our happy girl, and complete love bug, is limping. Assuming that a gregarious landing from a leap off the bed caused this, we waited. When she did not improve, our vet told us surgery for a torn ACL is imminent. Therefore, we will meet with the orthopedist, discuss options and make the best decision possible. We did our research and know our girl, but our 6 months old puppy is now 16 years old. Again, somehow, the years have slipped by like weeks and our adorable puppy girl is now a senior. Someone said every 52 days is a year in a dog’s life. It stings, but it’s true.
We’ll make the right decision and pray her surgery and recovery go smoothly. I dare say that in all these years I have learned more and feel much more confident in my decisions. In the past 27 years I have faced many dog parent decisions – some huge, some small.
I can tell you that although it never gets easier, it is best to make them using the 50% equation-50% mind, 50% heart. In addition, be sure and do your research.
A native of Massachusetts and a resident of Georgia where I have lived since 2008 with six rescue dogs, commonly referred to as my merry band of misfits, and one husband. I am proud owner of Best Buddies Dog Training in Hoschton, GA. When not in the training studio, you’ll find me in a nursing home, hospital or special needs class with my certified pet therapy dog or recruiting for my pet therapy organization, Happy Tails. I also spend a great deal of time researching the latest information on dog food, health and training techniques and volunteering with local rescues.
I have written stories to contribute to Titan’s Tales and Other Dog Adoption Love Stories and In Dogs We Trust.