We’re a bit stuck on this issue so I’m turning to the blogosphere for advice: we have two old dogs that we’ve had for many, many years, since we got them as 10 week old puppies from a breeder. They’re both standard poodles, smart, funny dogs, but they’re also both old now, about 13 or so.
The problem is that their health is failing. One of them is basically blind and half-deaf, has arthritis and has a difficult time going up and down stairs, getting up from a dog bed, etc., while the other is completely deaf (as far as we can tell, or she’s just mastered the “ignore your master’s voice” trick!) and is sporadically spirited, but has various skin and internal infections that we’ve tried to treat for years unsuccessfully.
Now we find that every morning one of them (probably the deaf one) has gone to the bathroom in the house (we’ve finally isolated them to a single room in the house at night for just this reason) and while we can certainly rip out a crummy old carpet and replace it without much fuss – indeed, we’ve already priced it out with really cheap, bottom-of-the-line carpet – it seems pretty pointless if the first night thereafter we have another “accident”.
I admit, though, I have no experience with aging dogs and the logical side of me says that when a dog is incontinent, deaf, unable to move around on their own, and generally has devolved into not much more than a bearskin rug in our household (most of the time they don’t even get up to bark when someone comes to the door) that maybe it’s time to put them to sleep.
But that’s my logical brain talking. My heart says that we should keep them with us and take care of them until it’s really completely out of control, where they bark randomly, go to the bathroom without even getting up from their dog beds, or simply pass away one night while curled up by the heater.
I dunno. Linda has strong feelings that we should err on the side of taking care of them longer than perhaps we should because, well, they’re part of the family, but I didn’t grow up with pets and am frankly less attached to them than she is. I respect her experience, but she doesn’t really recall the “september of a dog’s life” either, so we’re just not entirely sure how to proceed at this point.
Heck, if we could, I’d love to just give ’em a “Fountain of Youth” shot and have them wake up perky and ready to play and run around, but that’s not how things work on this planet, whether you’re a human or mutt.
So, dear reader, what’s your experience with aging dogs?