Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My dog



My dog is named Taj. He is a Sealyham Terrier and is eleven years old. Last Friday i made the painful decision to put him down. 

He was diagnosed with Crushing's Disease in July of last year which is the over production of hormones by his pituitary gland which causes his muscles to tighten and for him to be extremely thirsty. He suddenly, it seemed to me, became incontinent and started puffing all the time. He also began to refuse to walk, which is something he loved. After the diagnosis I began him on a daily pill which after a week had a dramatic effect on him. He went back to the Taj I knew and we were happy again to the point where I got mad at him for being too Taj-like and barking at cats at 3 in the morning!

All was going well until a month and a half ago when we were out walking and suddenly he stopped, quivered and fell to the ground. I panicked and rushed to him. He didn't seem to be able to walk but was otherwise ok. I picked him up and carried him for about 20 minutes until my arms almost fell off. I put him back down and he began to walk normally. I watched him for the rest of the day and he seemed fine. Then three weeks ago, as we went out to walk, he refused to go further than 10 metres from our door. I reached down to pat him and he yelped in pain. I was shocked, apologised profusely and we went back home where he went to his bed in our laundry and went to sleep. From then on there was a massive change in him. He refused to move and just wanted to lie on his bed all the time. He no longer barked at people who came to the door and stranger still, he no longer wanted to bark at cats. He wasn't even barking the house down when his human family had their dinner before him. He was, in truth, no longer Taj. I took him to the vet for tests and drugs and we tried everything we could think of for a few weeks but there really was no change. If I were a person with an endless supply of money, perhaps I could do more, but the fact is that animal health care is extremely expensive and I was running out of options. One last test from the vet showed that his red blood cells were not regenerating anymore. He was slowly dying. I had a painful choice to make and it was something I was trying to avoid. 

I continued to try and get him to walk, but he just wouldn't. While not every time, many times when I would touch him he would yelp and this was the thing that really got to me. I didn't want to hurt my dog. I want to make him happy and to make sure that his life is a good and satisfying one. I no longer knew how to do this. Last Wednesday in desperation, we doubled his Cushing's Disease medicine in the hope that it might do something, but by Friday we knew it wasn't doing a thing. The decision I dreaded was something I needed to make. When I talked to the vet on Friday afternoon, I told her that I felt that my dog was hurting and we needed to put him down. She offered to do it that very day and perhaps I should have taken her up on her offer. But I didn't. I decided to wait until the next day so that the family could say goodbye to our pet.

That night Taj lay in the corner of our lounge while I sat next to him. I wanted to pat him, but I was scared that he would be in pain. So we just spent his last night next to each other. It was a sad time for me. I never want to cause pain to any living thing, especially to one I love such as Taj and I was very upset. I ran through what would happen the next day in my head. I would take Taj into the vet and I would help him onto the table and I would hold his paw as the vet injected him and then he would quickly fall asleep and would be at peace. I also knew that I would sob my heart out and wouldn't be able to function for quite a while. The more I thought about the pain I would feel the next day, the more I looked for reasons not to do it. I talked to people online, good wonderful people, and they were so helpful in making me feel I was making the right choice. I'm not pro-euthenasia in any way. I don't want the power of life and death to be given to anyone, but here it was, thrust into my lap and I had used that unwanted power to essentially order the death of my beloved pet. 

I had very little sleep that night. I had made up my mind and was then beating myself up about the imagined consequences. The more I thought about it, the more I felt I didn't have the right to decide on his death. The next day was a sunny bright day and I took Taj out for his final walk. For some reason, that day he was happy to walk further than he had in weeks. We walked for an hour. He got quite tired about half way through and we took our time. It was a time for us to spend together. Our final time and I was happy to make it last. We sat down in a small park together and I took some photos of him and I patted him and for a moment what was about to happen was forgotten. With half an hour to go, I slowly walked with Taj back towards the house when suddenly I got a text message from my wife saying that the vet had called and had delayed Taj's appointment for another half hour. 

I don't believe in fate or signs or anything like that, but something nagged the back of my head that this was a sign. As we walked closer to the house I began to convince myself that Taj was getting better; that this was no time for him to die; that he still had so much to live for. By the time I got home it wouldn't have taken much for me to cancel the appointment and in this case my wife asked me if I still wanted to go through with it. I replied no and burst into tears. She called them for me and the appointment was cancelled. I called my mum to tell her, as she was a great friend to Taj, and we both cried down the phone to each other. The emotion of it all had proved too great. 

Now it is Monday. Taj is still alive. The whole time I was getting ready to put him down, all I could imagine was death row. Taj was being sent for execution on my say so and it was a hard image to shake. He had no received a stay of execution from the governor. But the governor now doesn't know if he made the right call. 

I have been stressing over my decision for the past few days. The fact is; Taj is not well. I don't know what he is thinking or how he is feeling. Is it right for me to decide that he is suffering and for me to have him die? Should I wait until he is in much more visible pain? I fluctuate between being on the verge of taking him to the vet to die; or convincing myself that I see improvement in his state or that improvement will happen when we wake up in the morning. I know that this is self-delusion, but it's something I can't avoid. 

Never have I known such stress as this. The power of life and death over someone I love is too great. I don't know how this will play out but I wish somehow it was ten years in the future and it was out of my hands. I don't want this decision. Does it make me a weak person? I think it probably does, but I don't know what else to do. I'm finding it hard to do anything much these days. I feel drained of energy and just wanting to avoid everything. I feel it will all come to a head soon.





4 comments:

NL495 said...

Such a heartbreaking post. Whatever decision you will make, your friends will stand by you. You are not weak; just a very caring human being. Thank you for sharing such an intimate moment with us! All the best my friend.

nrg said...

I will be thinking of you and your family. Sending hugs and strength your way, my friend.

kiwicrooks said...

Sweet Taj - beautiful boy. This extraordinarily tough time is the measure of you. I can't see how any compassionate animal lover would do it differently. Take care.

Cergie said...

Taj est un vieux chien à présent, il est plus vieux et sage que vous tous réunis...