We had quite an emotion filled weekend. It seemed like we laughed until we cried, literally. Watching the grandkids for a few days was great, we definitely had a lot of laughs and really enjoyed them. Unfortunately not even their presence could erase the growing sadness we’ve been feeling for the last several months. Just beyond the laughter, giggles and joyful screams of youthful delight, lies a reality Ray and I have had a difficult time dealing with, a fact of life we’ve been afraid to face for quite some time. Yes my friends “de Nile” may be a river in Egypt, but it has definitely been a presence here in my San Dimas home for quite some time.
Yeah we’ve been in denial about our dog Moe. Old Moe’s been a part of the family for 14 or 15 years now. We got him back when Alan was around 10. We already had a dog at the time but when Ray brought him home we just had to keep him. Cutest little Chihuahua pup you’ve ever seen! I got the honor of naming him. It seems like I was always naming our animals. His name came of course from “Moe” of 3 Stooges fame, but he also answered to Moskie. Our other dog at the time was a small, fluffy all black Terrier mix with just a touch of white below his mouth that looked like a little goatee. I first thought about calling him Hendrix, but settled on Malcolm as in Malcolm X. Yeah, back in the day Malcolm and Moe were quite a pair!
Unfortunately the years haven’t been kind to old Moe. One look at him and you could see he was suffering. He was completely deaf, nearly blind and was having difficulty sitting, standing and getting around. He hobbled about on what had to be arthritic legs or hips and looked very uncomfortable. At night while he slept he would sometimes whimper or cry out. I’d mentioned quite awhile ago that we should probably think about putting him down and Ray and Alan agreed that it was probably a good idea, but he was still eating well, so even though we knew in our hearts it was the right thing to do, we chose to do nothing at all.
Months passed and his condition worsened. He began to spend the greater part of the day sleeping in his basket. When he did get up it was with great difficulty and he seemed disoriented. He also began having accidents, which resulted in us having to confine him to a certain area of the house and patio. Still we couldn’t bring ourselves to take him to the Vet, it’s so hard letting go.
A few weeks ago he began to lose his appetite and started losing weight. This past weekend he worsened and appeared to be in real discomfort. By late Sunday night he was having difficulty breathing and whimpering in apparent pain. Ray sat with him in tears. It was heartbreaking but around 11:30PM Ray, Alan and I took Moe to a 24 hour animal hospital in Upland and had him put to sleep. He is no longer suffering. My only regret is that we didn’t act sooner. I believe we did him a terrible injustice by waiting so long.
When I first suggested putting Moe down months ago it was because from my point of view his quality of life had diminished to such a point that he was no longer living, but merely existing. I truly believed that putting him down was the best solution, but I let my emotions and pangs of guilt sway my thinking. How could I even consider putting down old Moe, he was family. And even though I knew that this was no longer Moe, but only a mere shadow of his former self, I opted to do nothing then for fear of seeming callous and heartless. Besides I didn’t want my wife to be hurt again. She had been devastated when we had to put Malcolm down. So instead, at Moe’s expense, I chose to just leave things as they were, a decision I truly regret. I should have had his best interest at heart.
So when is the right time to act? When should we have taken him in? Is there ever really a right time? How do you evaluate your pets quality of life? Of course there is no single correct answer. Each case is different. The one thing that you must do when in this situation is get over your own selfish needs and consider what’s best for your pet. Put his feelings and needs above your own. Ask yourself what the likelihood is of his quality of life improving and go from there. In Moe’s case the answer was slim to none. Old Moe wasn’t going to get any better and could actually get much worse, which he did. Thank God he’s no longer hurting. Rest easy Moskie, hope you’re running free…
Just a thought,