Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunny Day

Sweeping the clouds away.

This would be the sole cloud drifting slowly across the southern sky this afternoon. The sky really was that blue. I took advantage of the unreasonably beautiful day and Tom's willingness to entertain Sarah at the playground and the crepes place (where she discovered Nutella and banana filled crepes, god help me) to knock out the twin of the front path bed. My back is not pleased with my efforts, but the rest of me is feeling pretty chuffed.

All is not delightful here, though. Have you met Audrey yet?

She turns sixteen this summer. She's been with me since the autumn of 1994. Poor kid, having to wear the cone of shame. It's been on for a week, thanks to a really impressive hotspot she would not leave alone. So... her back legs are giving out. She's on steroids and antibiotics for her grody leg, and they're helping the wound but nothing else. I don't know if she's going to make it to her birthday (August the aribitrarieth). How long do you let an animal drag herself through her days? She can't fully lift her back paws most of the time, and it's even odds as to whether she makes it to the door before her bladder gives way.

I've had dogs die at home of old age, pets that had to be put down because of disease, and cats that just never came home, but I've never had to take an animal to the vet just because she's gotten old. I come downstairs each morning, wondering what I'm going to find, hoping that I won't have to make the call that seems increasingly inevitable.

Being a grown-up sucks.


Anonymous said...


Just a lurker here, but I understand the thing about Audrey being old and not having much of a quality of life these days. I had to make a phone call last spring about my 15 yr old golden cocker spaniel Madison Abigail. I called the vet just to find out what was required and found a very supportive person who understood what I was going through. See, we had lost our male companion dog a couple months before I called. He was also 15-16 yrs old and died in his sleep one night. My "Maddie" was grieving for her pal and she was also slowly failing in health, she just seemed to sleep 20 out of 24 hours a day.
The wonderful person I spoke with told me I was to be commended for her living so long as most of them pass before that age. She said she had obviously had a very nice life and when we felt that we didn't want her to suffer any longer we could bring her in and they would euthanize her. We waited a few more weeks, and my wonderful husband, knowing how hard it would be for me to carry out, took her to the vet one Saturday morning while I was out with my daughter and grandson. He said she went very peacefully. He told her she was a great dog, he thanked her for her loyal service and she went to sleep. I know it was not easy for him, but he knew it would be even harder for me.
You will know when the time is right. You will have a peace in your heart that you are doing the right thing by releasing Audrey of her suffering. Some people may disagree, but I think when an animal no longer can participate in the activities that make them who they are, it is best to give them permission to go and help ease their suffering.
I hope things work out for you and Audrey and pray that you have peace with whatever decision you make.

P.S. I have not sent a card or postcard, but want you to know that Jane was Here in Arvada, Colorado.
God bless you and your family.


Cindy said...

Me too ... what Tamara said. You'll know. And you will know because you have loved her so much.

I was the one who held our long-lived cat last summer. It was hard, no lie. But I kind of said the same thing you ended with - being a grown up can suck. But that also gave me the courage to do what I had to do. I knew he hated that he couldn't control his bladder any longer. He was a cat of great dignity.

I think Spring and Summer hold these funny paradoxes with so much life springing up out of the ground, and at the same time our older pets slowing down.

At least you know you're not alone!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tia:

I had to deal with this a couple years ago. Our beloved family pet was 15, and we nursed him through his last two years of various age-related ailments until it was fairly clear that the end was near. Of course we really didn’t want him to suffer, but as long as he wagged his tail we just couldn’t bring ourselves to make that difficult decision. How do you know when it’s time? Well, our vet (a really nice local guy, you probably know him) advised us that a significant clue would be when he was no longer interested in food. It really helped us to have that benchmark to watch for. When that time eventually came we felt comfortable that we didn’t act too hastily or, perhaps worse, that we selfishly waited too long. Will be thinking of you…


tia said...

Thanks, guys. Your words are all very helpful, particularly Jody's tip about the food. Audrey still manages to wiggle under the table at dinner time to hoover up the crumbs, so she's definitely still interested in people-food at any rate. I appreciate the thoughtful responses, and I'm sorry you all had to walk along this path, too.