*** EDITED 3/20 TO ADD*** I think there might have been a slight misunderstanding regarding my intentions in the post below. I might not be the best pet owner in the world, but I love my dog, Harry, very much. Like anyone who's cared for a dog for more than fifteen years, I've become quite attached. And, like many dog owners, I've reached that point in his life when some very difficult decisions need to be made. Last year the Humane Society alone euthanized over FOUR MILLION dogs. Many of those dogs were put to sleep (as the euphemism goes) by owners who loved them very, very much. Every bit as much as I love Harry. I am now at the precipice of making that same sad decision.
While I appreciate your concern (some of you contacted my ex-husband and my employer. Others contacted my advertisers. One of you even posted an ad on Craigslist: "She wants to kill her dog") I understand that this is a highly emotional subject. I'm emotional too. But wanting to kill my dog could not be further from the truth. What I've really been trying to do is find the MOST humane way to bring my 17-year-old, adorable, but sadly frail and unhealthy pup to as gentle an end as possible.
For the record, Harry lost control of his bladder and his bowels more than two years ago. At first, I tried walking him before going to bed or leaving the house, but that didn't work because he refuses to pee or poop while on a leash (and since he's deaf and mostly blind, leashing him isn't optional). Then I tried making sure he had constant access to and free reign of the backyard. When that didn't work, I bought doggy diapers. If my earlier post didn't make you sad, this photo I posted on Flickr over a year ago certainly will:
Diapers killed what little dignity Harry had left. And they didn't even work! I tried disposables, bitches britches, the kind made for male puppies that wrapped only around his waist; I even tried combinations of all three and NONE of them were effective! Nine times out of ten, I'd come home to find puddles, piles... and a dog still wearing a diaper. He hated the diapers so much that no matter how happy he was to see me when I got home, he wouldn't even look at me.
I've tried everything. Now I'm trying to do what's best for him. Please keep in mind that neglected, unhealthy, abused dogs don't generally live to be seventeen-years old. I first drafted this post over two weeks ago and have since spoken with animal experts, friends, veterinarians, and even the Humane Society. I know exactly what my options are - have a vet come to my house or take my dog to a vet. Unfortunately, because the drugs used to euthanize animals are also likely to kill a human, this isn't a task I'm able to take on myself. I only WISH I could, which is a world away from murdering my dog.
In hindsight, I should have been more clear when I posted yesterday. I only had a few minutes left between clients and readers were complaining about how long it'd been since I'd written anything, so I uploaded the only thing I had in my drafts folder. I wanted to add how I've spent the last two weeks sitting on this decision so I could spend extra time with my pup. I've been letting him sleep in my room (a risky proposition!), feeding him my bacon, taking him for walks and making sure the children get to play with him as much as they can before saying goodbye, but I was sitting at the coffee shop with tears streaming down my face and clicked publish just to put myself out of my own misery.
I'm sorry if it upset you.
It upset me too.
And don't worry, I vowed YEARS AGO to never own another dog. Why would I when I've already had the best one there could ever be?
ORIGINAL POST (Un-Edited):
Mr. Harry is not long for this world, unfortunately, which means I'm in a bit of a dog-pickle. Harry is my first BABY, but he's almost 17. He walks around like every bit the centegenarian he is, all crickedy and stiff and NO, SERIOUSLY, IT TAKES FOURTEEN MINUTES FOR ME TO GET OFF THE COUCH. He's stone cold deaf, mostly blind and completely incontinent. Whether I'm gone five minutes or five hours, there is always a puddle and a pile. He's so old, he pisses where he eats.
While he's eating.
Even sadder is that I'm an absolutely HORRID dog-owner. I'm never home. When my kids are with their dad, my homebase is at Joel's in NW Portland. When I'm home, it's because I have the cheeeeldren (ie: Harry's worst nightmare). I work nights, so even when I DO get home, it's late. He lives on the couch (which, obviously, needs to be reupholstered STAT). He can't play ball anymore. He can't go to the dog park because he doesn't come back when I call him. He can't even make it through a real walk anymore. He's just. so. old.
If I could, I'd find him some perfect old man in need of a lap dog, but the truth is, Harry no longer does well with strangers. He can't hear them come in and when he finally notices they're here, he's so surprised that his fear response kicks in and he can't stop barking. It took him two weeks before my roommates could even get him to go out in the backyard without scaring the shit out of him. Literally. He still barks at Sam and Terry, who practically live here and take care of him when we're out of town.
The last time I got home from Joel's it took me over an hour to clean up after him. I then had to leave to pick up the kids and by the time I returned, the floor was already destroyed again. He flinches when I pet him because he doesn't know it's coming.
I can't do it anymore. I don't think it's fair to either of us.
The dilemma is that I need to put him down myself. I can't take him to the vet. He's so old and disoriented that I think the drive alone would give him a heart attack. He's TERRIFIED of vets and animal hospitals. Always has been (ever since the hundred stitches he got from his last encounter with a bigger dog).
I know I can have someone come out to the house to help, but even that is a last resort (see also: stranger danger!). I basically want my sweet, old dog to take his final nap on my lap and drift peacefully into his next life. I wish I knew a way to make that happen for him.