(St)wrung Out

I’ve kind of dropped off the grid the last couple days.  Sorry about that, it’s not really typical for me to skip posting two days in a row (unless I’m traveling or it’s the weekend).  We’ve just been dealing with some stuff over here at Casa de Mitchell and there’s not been much left in me to type out.

Doc hurt his leg (y’know, the bad one) getting into the bathtub for bath time on Sunday.  This is not atypical, jumping into the tub has always been a strain on his legs and hips.

He followed up the mild injury by taking a bad fall while trying to make it up the stairs.  This compounded the problem, changed it from a limp to a disability.

We kept him in his crate all day Monday and yesterday, letting him out for stretches, water, and bathroom breaks, but he struggles.  A lot.  The wood floors are challenging for him, and he’s so scared of slipping on them that he just stands in fear and refuses to walk on them.

His other back leg is in no great shape either, and the strain of supporting the weight of his back end on its own leads it to shake and tremble before betraying him and making him fall.

Wes and I spent half an hour trying to coax Doc out of his crate last night.  We wanted to take him out to the bathroom one more time before bed, but he wouldn’t stand up for us.  We tried enticing him out of his crate with treats and peanut butter but he wouldn’t.  He was more scared of falling than he was desirous of peanut butter.

We finally had to dismantle his crate around him so that Wes could lift him out from above and help him make it outside.  We’re keeping him out in his kennel now because the floor there is concrete and not slippery at all.

This whole episode has really thrown me off my game.  It tears me to pieces to see him struggling like this.  It’s not like this all the time, which is why we haven’t put him down yet, but knowing that this kind of injury is always just a bad run up the stairs away, well, quite honestly it makes me not want to do this anymore.

I’m not sure whether this makes me a bad person, or a bad pet owner.  Is it wrong to say I’m tired of watching my dog struggle?

Wes says Doc’s quality of life is normally very good, that he still plays with his toys and eats and gets affection.  I can’t quite see it that way.  When I look at Doc, I see a dog who loves being with his people but who otherwise has nothing else to look forward to in life.

I see a dog whose opportunities to run, play with other dogs, fetch, and swim were taken away by a freak leg injury that happened when he was less than a year old.  Yeah, he’s still happy to be around us but that’s the only thing in life he’s able to enjoy anymore.  The best it gets for him would barely even register for other dogs.

Especially coming off watching my Dad’s health decline, hating the cancer for every pleasure it took away from him until the only thing he could do that brought him enjoyment was use the computer and watch TV, I just feel spent.  Doc got injured right around when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, so their health declines have thus far been eerily matched.

I really do wonder if it makes me a bad person for not wanting to do this anymore with my dog.  My heart, still so tender and raw and pained, rebels at the prospect of watching Doc get marginally better again, better enough to hobble around anyway, only to know with sick certainty that his next injury is simply a matter of time.

Wes argues that until Doc doesn’t want to live anymore we should continue to keep him as safe as possible, and that we’ll know he no longer wants to live because he’ll grow lethargic, unwilling to play, and unwilling to eat.

I argue that there’s only so much I can take, and there’s only so long I can keep watching my dog struggle to do normal things.  Like stand up.

Does this make me a bad person?

9 thoughts on “(St)wrung Out

  1. It doesn’t make you a bad person, but in this case, I’m on Wes’ side. It makes the heart hurt, it does, to watch a pet become limited in their day-to-day mobility, but I think it’s compounded even more by all the pregnancy emotions. I know it’s annoying when people constantly chalk it up to hormones, but I think, in this case, it’s really true– I was a sobbing mess during my first pregnancy, and the second time around is no different. A friend recently reminded me that I should not be making any big emotional decisions right now, and so I offer the same reminder to you…

  2. -Nancy, You know? That’s an excellent point. It’s really easy to forget that the pregnancy hormones OF MADNESS are not permanent, though they have a way of feeling all-encompassing, don’t they? Thanks for pointing this out :)

  3. My old lady dog was having some problems a few years ago after she’d had surgery to remove basically a tumor befind her front ‘shoulder’ and I started bracing myself for the inevitable that she was going to be gone soon after that, but 4 years later she’s still hanging in there, she’s 13 now. But our other perfectly healthy young australian shepard died suddenly from liver failure, just died. No presick symptoms or anything. So you just never know, but the point I wanted to make is that the old dog is still hanging in there, some days you just gotta give senior dogs a break, and if they don’t go out but twice a day then that’s all they are going to do. (It’s like having and old person living with you.) If they are still getting around when THEY want to and acknowledge you and can play on their choosing, then I think they still have quality of life, it’s just hard to watch them you think they may be hurting. But Cesar says dog live in the moment so don’t feel guilt about not ending it for them. Just wait and see what happens and maybe he just needs a few days of extra rest. Hang in there!

  4. -SandyPie, The sad thing is, Doc is only two years old! Not even two and a half! We’ve had a tragic odyssey with him. When we brought him home he had severe kennel cough and was on antibiotics for two months. Tons of x-rays and vet bills there.

    Then, when he got a little older he started eating everything and we had to have two surgeries for him to get giant objects removed from his stomach.

    Then, after we figured out how to keep him safe from himself, he tore his ACL and developed arthritis in his hips. As you can see, way too many problems for a two year old dog!

    We will definitely take a wait and see approach with him. We’re giving him until Sunday to show improvement, if he’s still in pain by then we’ll start discussing options. It’s just so hard to make those big decisions for the dogs you love, don’t you think?

  5. No you are definitely not a bad person. Any compassionate person would find it hard to watch their dog struggle and hurt. But I’m also with Wes on this one. I think dogs let you know when they are done with life, and it’s not right to put them to sleep before that point. As much as it hurts you to watch him struggle – and I hope this doesn’t sound harsh, but it must be said – this isn’t about you. It’s not your life. If your *dog* is not done living his life then you should let him keep living it, even if it’s sad to you that he’s not living the life you’d hoped he would have.

  6. -sparklytosingle, Good points. The hard thing with Doc is that he’s a tank. After his first rock removal surgery, when he had a huge incision and stitches and pain, he still ran around and played and acted like nothing happened. Even now, with his arthritis, he’ll run like nothing’s wrong and then pay for it by limping for days.

  7. No, you, like the rest of us are human. Just like Doc isn’t perfect, neither are the rest of us. I have to agree with Wes, he’ll let you know when he’s had enough. And maybe with his big heart he can go longer than you would go yourself in his position.

    Poor guy. And poor you.

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