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Old 09-04-2012, 02:57 AM   #1
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Default Close to being time?

I have a Husky/collie cross rescue dog and am beginning with the struggle on the question. Our dog's age is undetermined. The spca thought it was 8 years when we got her 7 (or was it eight?) years ago. A vet has estimated around 13 years but that would mean she was only 6 when we got her and she seemed older then.

Anyhow, Stella has had arthritis for many years but it is now beginning to affect her basic mobility. we have been doing cartifin (sp?) shots and she has been taking some steroids for the treatment of a bout of vestibular disease which she got in early July. She seems to have mostly recovered from that but now will only put minor weight on one of her legs. We have tried foods, glucosomine, and pain killers but nothing produces any dramatic change.

She still eats OK (though at times we need to hand feed her) and drinks well. She can crouch to urinate and poop. She is not doing well on stairs of any kind (we live in a rancher but it is still a few stairs to the yard) and will often yelp in pain when picked up (but she was always a bit of a drama queen that way). she now will curl one leg up and put no weight on it while standing. and BTW she really dislikes ramps.

I know on a pure medical basis it is not quite time but I just don't think that she is enjoying life anymore, and hasn't really most of the time for over a year. She sleeps most of the day and spends her time alone (on purpose) to avoid the stress of our kids (who do not harass her), noise etc. When it is peaceful, she will not move for hours. She is rarely happy to see anyone (and not us - usually extended family).

Problem is, she has never been a happy go lucky dog, maybe due to her past, but even when able at our previous house she would go to the basement all day, alone(or in the garage or in a hole she dug). The difference was that she would react when called, be interested in walks, petting, etc. But now its like we're all just waiting, including her.

Our finances are not such that I can make every effort (like acupuncture etc) but I can get painkillers, shots and so forth for a while.

any thoughts in my shoes?

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Old 09-04-2012, 06:36 AM   #2
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Hi gfacer welcome aboard to Df! Iam sorry to hear this about your girl Yes she is old but is she bored too? You say Stella has had treatment for Vestibular disease and has virtually recovered fro this so this is good You say you can't really stretch to acupuncture etc cause of finances have you enquired about this? Or even go down the herbal route? Then she is drinking ok and you have to hand feed her too. it's difficult to make a decision and no one can do that for you! The pain could be due to the Arthuritius so is there other new treatments that could be offered instead to make her more comfortable? Have a good think about it and talk with your vet too they are there to help this is a friendly careing forum and others will chime in too Good luck and hope you can figure something out
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:15 AM   #3
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gfacer, welcome to the forum. Sorry to hear your dog isn't doing well. There are suppliments that you could try. I'd wait to hear from a few members on this forum that are much more qualified than myself, to offer suggestions.

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Old 09-04-2012, 10:49 AM   #4
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This is a question none of us can really answer.... Sorry.
Welcome to df too.
I think it is very hard to tell when it's time.
I haven't had to do it yet. Maybe members who have been there can help you more.
Either way it's a very hard decision to make.
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:16 AM   #5
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I agree with Techie, ultimately the decision is yours. Personally I don't think age comes into it, though clearly as they become the age my dog is you know the time can't be too far off.

I will tell you that my dog suffered a vestibular episode coming up to two years ago, and he has been fine since. He has just turned 15. He struggles some days and other days he enjoys our slow walks in the country. He starts making a right racket in the back of the car when we get passed a certin point in the journey there and he realises where we are going. He loves going to certain places. He still has joy in his face . . . though not all the time but certainly daily. He is on Rimadyl for his mobility.

I think you have a tough decision, I'm dreading making it.

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Old 09-04-2012, 12:38 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback. I know it is our decision. I guess I need to wait a little while until its more clear cut.

Its been OK this summer as she was on vacation with my sister in law in a dry, hot environment where she could lay and rest about 22 hours a day but now that she is home, on the wet coast with winter coming I am just not sure that laying in the cold damp rain without any desire to move will be best. And she will prefer that over being inside mostly.

But she did get up with help to go for what passes for walk now (about 10 minutes for 600m/1800ft roundtrip) falling once when she shook her head (she is not 100% over the vestibular and likely never will be). That was after I carried her out at 4:00am for a pee and let her stay out as the night was warm enough.

We've tried a few of the treatments the vet recommended (all ones that worked for her old dog) but have seen no real improvement. Its been worse since the vestibular as I think she may have injured everything more with all the falling then.

My big issue is that with a clear injury or prognosis and pain the decision is clearer (we had to put down a cat a few years ago due to an injury and that decision was painful but clear). With a dog that has mostly slept for several years its difficult to tell when she's done with this world. It just seems a lot of struggle to survive just to lay alone asleep in the yard.

Maybe its time to try a dog house, see if she`ll use it, and keep up the meds/supplements. If she can stay outside and dry its not quite time.

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Old 09-04-2012, 01:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gfacer View Post
Thanks for the feedback. I know it is our decision. I guess I need to wait a little while until its more clear cut.

Its been OK this summer as she was on vacation with my sister in law in a dry, hot environment where she could lay and rest about 22 hours a day but now that she is home, on the wet coast with winter coming I am just not sure that laying in the cold damp rain without any desire to move will be best. And she will prefer that over being inside mostly.

But she did get up with help to go for what passes for walk now (about 10 minutes for 600m/1800ft roundtrip) falling once when she shook her head (she is not 100% over the vestibular and likely never will be). That was after I carried her out at 4:00am for a pee and let her stay out as the night was warm enough.

We've tried a few of the treatments the vet recommended (all ones that worked for her old dog) but have seen no real improvement. Its been worse since the vestibular as I think she may have injured everything more with all the falling then.

My big issue is that with a clear injury or prognosis and pain the decision is clearer (we had to put down a cat a few years ago due to an injury and that decision was painful but clear). With a dog that has mostly slept for several years its difficult to tell when she's done with this world. It just seems a lot of struggle to survive just to lay alone asleep in the yard.

Maybe its time to try a dog house, see if she`ll use it, and keep up the meds/supplements. If she can stay outside and dry its not quite time.
It would be my guess that she's not CHOOSING to lay in the cold damp rain; but instead she simply doesn't have the strength or the will to move; possibly because it's too painful and/or she isn't capable of making that choice.

From what you've described, she's not living, she's just existing. Each of us has to make our own decisions for our own pets. But IMO I honestly don't see a chance for any true quality of life in putting her outside in the winter in a dog house just so she can stay dry while she sleeps her life away.

I'm truly sorry you are suffering with the indecision we all have to go through with our old dogs. None of us wants to make this decision and it hurts like the very devil to even think about it. But it comes to a point in time where quality of life must be our first consideration.

I guess what it boils down to is; do you feel that sleeping through a cold damp winter with only a doghouse for protection equals an acceptable quality of life for an old dog? Especially one that is mentally confused and hurting too much to be able to get out of the rain?

As painful as it is: sometimes knowing when and making the sacrifice to let go is the last kind and generous thing we can do to show just how much we really do care for them.
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:19 PM   #8
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I should clarify, she always been unfazed by the rain and she has husky blood so being outside in all manners of weather has always been part of her life. She has spent most of everyday outside except in extreme cold or wet.

Snow is or was something that made her happy. She will go in the shed often too but if already out elsewhere often not be in a hurry to move, even when mobility was fine. Drove us nuts when she did come in wet and muddy...

The shed can be dangerous with tools and things to fall on so it would be replacing that with something I could add a little insulation to and make just hers. And her habit of not moving in the rain is more pronounced with her arthritis.

But you are right and that is what I feel, she is just existing and all your other points are true too but somehow tipping the scales due to the changing of the season seems wrong even if logical. Her motivations now are basic: hunger, bodily needs, and fear (loud noises will always get her moving). Love and attention are not in the equation though appreciated at times.

But I definitely appreciate the thoughts and approach, it is the outside perspective that led me to post. So thank you.

I'm not going make a decision too quickly, she just returned to us and there are others that need to say goodbye, if it comes to that, that are away. So for now I'll monitor her day by day.

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Old 09-04-2012, 02:28 PM   #9
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I am with Apples on this one! While she is a husky type breed she is elderly and needs extra care and companion ship So why not (for how ever long it is) Make her more comfortable in the house where it's warm and inviting! I don't think
she is refusing to come in the house but can't because of her problems! She deserves this extra special care Go on treat her to this make a specail area in your home just for her
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:57 PM   #10
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I'm fine with her in the house and no she doesn't refuse (though she needs help). If she wanted to stay there it would be OK but she prefers it outside (especially since we moved last oct- she was ok in our old basement where she would go to the farthest corner and under a shelf on a rug over concrete (later her dog bed).

In our new house she is OK in the carpeted family room (the only carpeted room) but that is also a busy room. We've tried to make a rec room space for her but she is restless for the most part there unless encouraged to sleep on her bed. Overall she'll stay inside some days if we don't give her the option but its pretty clear she would rather be out mostly. She is also a little on the incontinent (pee) side (taking medication successfully for that).

If I keep her in all the time I really feel I would be keeping her restricted, like a prisoner. Oh and my wife has trouble lifting her while I am at work so the times when we can move her in and out on her bad days are limited.

A dog house would just be ensuring that the portion of her life outside can be made more comfortable (better access, safer, dry, closer to the door etc) but overall, this is still a question of when, not if.

I think that this fall might be the last fall for her, its been clear since spring that her time was approaching (even before vestibular disease hit her). Her quality of life is borderline now but I'll keep trying to make it a bit better and see where it leads in the short term.

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