Are We Sometimes Told to Put our Pets Down Prematurely? by Andrea Hartley

MinuteWhen my Chihuahua and dachshund mix, Minute, was 14 years old, he was rushed to the doggie ER with a collapsed trachea, at about 8 pm one Sunday night.  When he breathed, he made a horrible rasping sound, and he was put on oxygen.  I was told that without surgery, he would die and after  the surgery, he would need daily medication and would have a poor quality of life.  They said he would probably sleep all the time.  The Vet recommended that I put him down.  I was devastated, but said that I wanted to wait until morning and give prayer a chance.  The Vet’s voice oozed with contempt, as she told me that I was being selfish to allow him to suffer all night and that I should put him down now.  I opted instead to leave him in the hospital, on oxygen.  My whole family and I were praying and I also called a Christian Science practitioner and asked her to pray as well.  At 6:00 a.m. the following morning a technician from the hospital called and said, “You can come and get him, he is fine.”  We were jubilant! We rejoiced and thanked God.  He did not take any medicine and he was his normal self.  His quality of life?  He was perfectly mobile to  the point of running on the beach.

He is now 18 years old.  About a year ago he developed a seizure disorder and he has had Cushings Disease for years.  Yet, until he was 17, he was doing well, in spite of it.  In March of 2016, I had two other vets tell me that it was time.  His kidney values were starting to climb,  and his liver values, which had already been elevated, had begun to rise. He wasn’t eating, hadn’t eaten in 3 or 4 days.   I wrestled with that horrible decision that we pet lovers are often faced with.  I didn’t want to see him suffer.  They said he might have pancreatitis and would need to be hospitalized and flushed with fluids, but because he had a heart murmur, that could give him cardiac arrest or cardiac failure.  Again, we all took to prayer.  I kept him home with me, and gave him IV fluids to keep him hydrated.  Gradually, he began eating again.  He loves to eat lots of vanilla yogurt and homemade dog food containing ground beef, egg, oatmeal, and cabbage, which I bake together as meatballs and  which I crush and spoon feed him every day.  (I spoon-feed him the yogurt too, otherwise he doesn’t eat as much.)

He has alot of trouble walking these days, but he can walk. On a good day, he will walk around the yard with me guiding him with a leash.  He has a difficult time sitting up for too long unless he is propped up.  He has gained some of the weight back that he lost, but is still very thin.  He still has seizures from time-to-time and he wakes up sometimes in the middle of the night to go potty.  Though he has had a few accidents, it amazes me that even at his sickest, he still got up to go out.

He has fought so hard to stay in the game;  I feel like I can’t be the one to take him out. Instead, my daughter and I take turns watching him, since, he can’t be left alone.    He will turn 19 in July .  It isn’t easy, and I hope I am doing the right thing to allow him to go in his own time; but I
do know that he surely wasn’t ready to go when he was 14; and I am so glad that I didn’t allow myself to believe the worst. Hopefully, moving forward, one day when he is ready, he will leave us while in his sleep.Minute 2

He used to wag his tail whenever I walked in the room.  I remember.  He used to follow me from room-to-room.  I remember.  He used to run with me on the beach hoping to catch a seagull.  I remember.   He used to reluctantly walk in the ocean with me, for a while,  just to be by my side; and run toward the beach away from the incoming wave that was breaking on the shore.  I remember.  He used to love to go for rides in the car with me.  I remember.  It was only two years ago that he used to pull me down the street, happy to go for his walk, I remember.  It was only six months ago that he sat up in his baby stroller and got lots of admiration from passer’s  by when we went for walks. I remember.   What have I learned from him?  So many things.  But his determination to keep on going, the best he can, has affected me the most.  From that pint-sized, 10 pound dog, I have seen so much strength. Most of all, I remember the look of love in his eyes for all these years.   He will always be, “my little buddy.”