Thursday, December 26, 2013

Goodbye, Chili dog

We have to put our dog down. He's thirteen, he has trouble walking and standing, went blind rather suddenly, and can't control his bowels or bladder. Lately he's been getting lost in corners and we've got to be very careful not to let him try to do the same with the corner with the pellet stove. This morning he fell in a hole one of our other dogs has been digging unbeknownst to us. And the ground was supposed to be frozen....

In the past, we had to put down a Golden when his kidneys failed. We came home to find him immobile, bloated and unresponsive. Before him we had a Dalmatian who spent the last two weeks of his life in a cage with tubes snaked up his nose and into his arms.

In that regard Chili is ahead of the game. But he can't see, can barely walk, when he goes to the bathroom like as not he'll fall backwards into it, and his days are now spent like his nights: laying in one place whining to himself.

We took him to the vet because we didn't think we could make a decision without his input. Basically he said that it would not be premature to do it now, and when I said I thought the best he would ever be was right there at that moment, amped up and excited because he was at the vet's, the doctor agreed.

Melissa wasn't ready yet, and we took him home. She was Chili's handler when she showed him way back when. He almost became a Champion--he'd won all his minors and just needed his two majors but we started having babies and it just kind of worked out that he retired.

This morning he started to go to the bathroom while he was eating breakfast. I was already working on the mess he'd made before I led him to his food. It really hit me that he's not getting better, he's getting worse, and I dread "the next phase," the one where it's time to take him in after you've waited too long. The vet made sure we knew that he thought that was the one place we didn't want to be.

Unfortunately, that's the one place when you know it's time to take them in. You can't feel good about it until you know there's no choice left at all, when they're already suffering past the point of there being any question at all of what to do. Chili's blind, can barely walk, can't find his food or water dish, falls down stairs when he gets to them, and has no quality of life. The reality is that he's not going to get better and whatever the next phase would be, we don't want to see him there.

So it's time. We're saying goodbye to our Dalmatian, Chili, nearing fourteen years old and still king of the roost to the other dogs, even to this day. We know we're doing the right thing but paradoxically it can only feel that way if we'd wait too long. Right now, it seems like there's an element of choice to the matter, but that's only because we're picking him and carrying him outside, carrying him to his food, carrying him up and down stairs, keeping him away from the pellet stove. His quality of life is laying on the couch and whining. And that's the best that can be said for him. He seems to recognize Melissa, or at least respond to her, but for the rest of us, he's ninety percent not there.

Goodbye, Chili. We love you and we'll miss you, you spotted marvel. May you forever rest in peace. We'll always remember the love you've given us for the past thirteen plus years. And if you don't know, few dogs love as hard as a Dalmatian.


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