Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Right or Wrong?


                                                by Laura Crum


            OK, this isn’t a horse question—but I guess it could be. It’s an animal question. Something happened the other day that really upset me. I’m not sure if I’m right to be upset. Maybe I’m totally wrong. You tell me.
            Before I begin, I want to warn you that this isn’t a very pleasant post. Owners of expensive purebred dogs would do best to click on the “X” now. Because though I like many of you personally, I am in general opposed to the concept of paying a lot of money for a purebred dog when many sweet, intelligent dogs are euthanised for lack of a home. So don’t read this if that stance offends you, because I’m not intending to pick on anyone, except perhaps the acquaintance I talk about here. I am, however, going to state my point of view and express some of my feelings.
            I have a friend/acquaintance that, for various reasons, I see from time to time. We both have kids, we both have animals. She has rescued a couple of stray cats; she has a horse. I think she takes good care of her animals. We have things in common, obviously. But she recently did something that, quite truthfully, left me aghast.
            My sort of friend has had a small dog the whole time I have known her. Small and furry dog named Maxi. Good with the kids and cats, getting older. Sometimes the friend would complain that Maxi was getting incontinent and deaf. I have an older dog who is getting incontinent and deaf, so I sympathized. We would both remark about how our old dogs still seemed to enjoy life. And Maxi clearly was a happy little dog.
            And then, a few months ago this friend started talking about getting a puppy. I had acquired a puppy—a little rescue mutt—a couple of years ago, and I immediately waxed lyrical about what a great addition she was and how she has perked my older dog up…etc. But it soon became evident that my friend had something else in mind.
            She asked my opinion about Labs—because she wanted to buy a purebred Lab puppy. I have to admit, I took a deep breath. Amongst my friends/acquaintances, I can think of roughly ten people who have bought a purebred Lab puppy in the last couple of years. With all the sweet, wonderful dogs in this world that are being euthanised for lack of a home, these folks had to spend a thousand dollars or more on a purebred Labrador retriever—the trendy dog of the moment. This particular woman couldn’t decide on whether she wanted yellow or chocolate (rather like deciding on a piece of furniture), and what did I think of Labs?
            I told her the truth. (She asked me, remember? I didn’t hand out my unsolicited opinion.) I said I had grown up with a Lab and it was a sweet dog, very enthusiastic and high energy, and pretty stupid, by my lights. Almost every other Lab I have ever met could be described in these words. The smartest one I know is described by her owner as not too bright. (He used to have cowdogs, so he knows the difference.) Another Lab owner that I like said that she preferred dogs that weren’t too smart. Good for her. She knows what she’s signed up for.
            I told my friend that I found Labs boring, but if that’s the sort of dog you wanted, fine. Me, I like smart dogs. My Queensland heelers could outthink plenty of people, and the two terrier crosses I have now are both plenty bright. I made a brief plea for the friend to consider a rescue dog (which was shrugged off), and then I asked if she thought Maxi would mind a new puppy. The friend made no answer to this. I got the impression that I hadn’t produced the feedback she wanted (as in Labs are wonderful, I like the chocolate ones --or yellow ones--best), and she was done talking to me about it. Oh well.
            So last month I ran into my friend and her new Lab puppy (chocolate, in case you were curious). The puppy was cute, of course, but in my opinion not one/tenth as cute as my little terrier cross mutt. But to each his own. I petted the puppy and looked around. No Maxi.
            “Where’s Maxi?” I asked.
The friend glanced pointedly at her young children, shook her head, and said nothing.
It took me a minute, but I got it. And I have to admit, it upset me. I said my goodbyes as quickly as I could and I got out of there. Because I didn’t want to contemplate the fact that my friend had obviously put her old dog down so she could get a new puppy. Old dog was inconvenient, so let’s get rid of her.
I was and am afraid to ask the friend directly, and its none of my business, but the last we talked Maxi was doing fine, just like my old dog. Yes, my old dog is a nuisance in some ways, but she’s been my dog for fifteen years. She’s been my little boy’s companion, as Maxi was my friend’s children’s companion. She’s a sweet dog who still trots happily down to the barnyard to feed the horses with me. I cannot understand the mindset that would put an old friend down because she is inconvenient. Because you want a new, trendy, purebred dog and you don’t want to cope with the old dog any more. I can’t stop thinking about it.
So here’s my question. Am I wrong to be aghast here? I have said nothing to my “friend,” though I am avoiding her. I don’t plan on inflicting my thoughts upon her. I’m not even sitting in judgment on her. How could I? I don’t really know the exact circumstances; I’m not in charge of the morals of others. But I do have a right to my feelings and my feelings are appalled.
Any thoughts?

PS--Here's a photo of my two not purebred or trendy, but very sweet (and were both free) dogs. They are wonderful family dogs. The little black dog (Star) is as smart as any dog I've ever owned. And you've got to admit, they are entertaining just to look at (!)


            

32 comments:

Cindy D. said...

Euthanizing your old dog, just so you can get a puppy seems wrong to me. But since we don't know for sure if that is what happened, it is hard to point fingers. Although yes, it sure appears to be that way. Why it would even need to happen is beyond me. Wouldn't it have been much easier to just keep the dogs separated most of the time until a truce could be reached between the two dogs?

Bird said...

My inner detective tells me to gather more information before being horrified. Did she *really* put the old dog down purely due to inconvenience?! If that's the case I'd be rather horrified too, let's be honest. But there may be more to it. Perhaps there was a reason to put the dog down and the kids were upset about it but temporarily happy with the new shiny puppy and she didn't want to dredge up the sad, for example.

My inner Sage tells me you won't be happy with the answer regardless, and maybe just hugging your old dog is more worthwhile.

Of course, Gail comes to mind here and I bet she'd be hot on the trail of facts, especially if encouraged otherwise ;-)

Funder said...

Yeah, I think in those circumstances that's a jerk move. (I'm the friend who likes dumb dogs - I have an insane cat and a difficult horse; I deserve one easy pet!)

But I did something similar, just without premeditation. Cersei came into my life the week before I put my old Lab to sleep, and he wasn't that old. He had serious behavioral problems, and I just wasn't sure how much longer I could ethically keep a food-aggressive dog-aggressive 80 pound dog. He was dangerous to everyone around him, including me, and then I rescued this puppy intending to rehome her, and, well, I buried Linux and kept Cersei. I'm a jerk too.

Laura Crum said...

Cindy D and Bird--Yes, you are right. I don't know for sure that's what happened. And I agree with the points you've raised. I don't understand why not keep both dogs (I have my old dog and my young dog and they are happy together). Its just my gut instinct, based on her responses--and the way she avoided eye contact. I had the impression she was ashamed. But I don't know. The old dog may have had a health crisis I never heard about.

And Bird, I really am not much like Gail in that respect. I tend to mind my own business and I can do no good by asking--it won't bring Maxi back. And yes, you're right. I did go home and pet my old (and very inconvenient) dog for a long time and tell her what a good dog she is.

Laura Crum said...

Funder--I don't think you're a jerk. You put your old dog down for a good reason--I would have done the same. In the situation I talk about here, my "friend" and I had many conversations about our old dogs--both were a lot alike (you know my dog Jojo). Sweet, happy, friendly, good with kids and other dogs....and deaf, incontinent and getting a little old dog dementia. Both these dogs were a nuisance in some ways, but doing OK overall. From my point of view it would have been much as if I had put Jojo down--and you know, I have actually had the thought cross my mind, as I wash yet another thing she "leaked" on. But I know (for me) it is a choice I can never make--until Jojo's life is no longer any pleasure to her. I think that's why this situation that wrote about hit me so hard.

Funder said...

Yeah, I know it's not exactly the same. It's just... Linux's life was still pretty pleasant. I just couldn't take the risk that he'd maim the puppy, or Banders the tiny insane kitten, or someone else's dog, or god even bite me. That's when I decided I had to put him down, when I realized that even I was scared of him in certain circumstances. Poor Linux.

Jojo is no threat to anything but your furnishings. ;)

Laura Crum said...

Funder--In that situation I would have wept many tears, but I would have put the dog down. I once had a Queensland who would snap at me (and anything else) when he got annoyed, but the worst he ever did was leave a tiny scratch on my hand. I wasn't in the least afraid that he'd injure me--and he never did (he lived to be 15 and I still miss him). But if I had been afraid he'd seriously hurt me, or if I had a young child and I was afraid he would hurt the child, then yes, I would have euthanised him. Even though I would have cried and cried.

I have known two parents who had to euthanize long time family dogs (one was a Queensland heeler) because they bit a young child. I totally agree that is the right choice. But it still makes you very sad.

Val said...

If true, I agree that the act is appalling. I am also not a fan of purebred dogs. The ones that people buy as pets seem to have a lot of problems (mental and physical).

Gayle Carline said...

We have two dogs (you've seen the pix). The retriever-mix is a rescue. Sweet but not a bright dog, in comparison to the Corgi. Yes, I bought the Corgi. I confess, I love dogs, I love the thought of rescuing a dog, and I'm still smitten with Corgis. I didn't really get Duffy from a breeder - I got him from a friend who had two Corgis and bred them and got such a cute litter that of course I had to have one, especially since my other Corgi had suddenly dropped dead one Sunday morning a month earlier.

Was your friend right or wrong? Hard to say. But if she thinks an old dog is inconvenient, she ain't seen nothing yet with that puppy. I love labs, but they are SLOW to mature and until they do, they pretty much destroy everything they can get their paws on. And in order of maturity/intelligence, from best to worst? Yellow, then black, then chocolate. My friend has a chocolate lab. He no longer has a garden, several pairs of shoes, a few baseball caps, and a couch.

If you can, try not to judge her. She'll need all the help she can get to keep her new inconvenient dog.

Laura Crum said...

Val and Gayle--I did once buy a purebred Queensland (for a couple of hundred dollars). Like Gayle, I didn't go out looking for a purebred, I just stumbled upon the litter at a barn where I bought a horse and I wanted one of the dogs in the worst way. So yes, guilty of buying a purebred dog myself. Fergie was a great dog and I loved her dearly, but she was not as smart as Joey, my not purebred Queensland, or either of the two terrier cross mutts that I have today.

And I like Corgis, too (!) I had no idea the color of a Lab made a difference. The smartest Lab I personally know is black. The two dumbest ones I know are yellow.

Yes, pretty much all puppies destroy things. At least every one I have ever had. My most recent puppy has been pretty good, but (when she was younger) she did chew the corner off an antique Navajo rug that I inherited from my grandmother.

Mona Sterling said...

I have worked in the pet industry for 20 years and have learned to bite my tongue, sometimes hard enough to make it bleed.

Folks do what they do with their dogs, their children, their money, their partners and there's not a whole lot we can do about it.

I think it's hard when people say asinine things like "My dogs are my kids" and then proceed to give the dog away when they move, feed the dog food from the grocery store (seriously, if you're buying at the grocery store you're most likely feeding your pet other euthanized pets as 'meat meal')and use training methods such as shock collars.

I am an advocate for rescue, spay and neuter and good nutrition (oh man could I go ON about the nutrition and how it affects your dog's skin, it's temperament and it's chances of getting cancer), however I have acquaintances who have bought purebred dogs and fed them crap. I just tell them that we disagree and we shouldn't talk about their dog because I will lose my shit. I feel like this allows me to show my passion for this subject, but also gives them the choice to let it go.

Also, even my Border Collie finds labs too goofy to give the time of day too. Now a lab/Border Collie mix or a lab/Pit mix....I've met some nice ones of those. Available now at a shelter near you. :)

Laura Crum said...

Mona Stirling--Yes, I understand your frustration. I, too, have known people who say their pets are their kids and then give them away when they move or have a child. I don't comprehend this. And I will admit--I lose all respect for these people.

Breanna said...

I too have an old and sometimes inconvenient dog. She's a 13 year old lab/border collie and can't hear (or chooses not to) and has accidents in the house. But she is so happy and otherwise healthy I couldn't imagine putting her down just to get a puppy! If anything I would get a puppy to keep her going longer! But I will agree with Cindy D. and Bird that we can't know the circumstances of your friend. We also had an old lab that we should have put down long before he finally died, and I sort of wish that we had erred on the side of letting him sooner than later. He was still eating and liked to be scratched and petted, but real quality of life was long gone.

Also to weigh in on the dumb labs, Chocolate are indeed the dumbest and in fact they will not use them for guide dogs because of this. Along with my old mutt, we also have a yellow lab, and while he is dumb he is nowhere near as dumb as the old chocolate one was.

Laura Crum said...

Breanna--I faced a hard decision with Fergie, my one purebred dog. She came down with myolopathy (sp?) and gradually became unable to walk. But she had no pain and was perky, happy, loved to be petted and to eat. Fergie was a very cheerful personality--we bought her a doggie wheelchair and she trundled around in that for awhile but eventually became unable even to do that. So we carried her from place to place (a thirty pound dog). The thing is, she seemed just as happy and bubbly a personality as ever. We suffered--it didn't seem as if she did. But she grew frailer and frailer and began to get bedsores and finally we had to draw the line. I thought her eyes were beginning to look anxious and I couldn't cure the sores any more. I don't know if we should have let her go soooer--I do know that it was time when we did. These choices can be very hard.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Why all the lab bashing? Isn't it just a few steps from "all labs are dumb" to "all pit bulls are vicious"? Sorry, I don't buy it.

Labs have been bred for ages to find and retrieve game in very trying circumstances. It takes a bright, observant, communicative animal to be a successful hunting dog.

Should one choose to go the purebred route, it pays to research the breeder as much as the breed - quality breeders tend to offer quality animals. And being a stray, rescue or mixed breed doesn't guarantee intelligence or temperment.

Perhaps the "stupid" labs you're referring to are instead dogs whose owners failed them in the training department, whose breed prerogatives were not being fulfilled, (hunters need to hunt, chasers need to chase, herders need to herd), or who suffered from poor breeding.

Full disclosure - I am presently owned by a purebred Jack Russell terrorist who was a rescue, and put down (one year ago today) a very inconvenient, very sick 14 year old lab/pit mix who was the best of both breeds... super smart and super sweet.

Funder said...

Hey, I'm not bashing, I love labs. All three that I've owned, and all the labs I've spent time with, have been dim bulbs. Good natured, easy, love to please their humans - but not clever like terriers.

It's just like with horses - if you want a horse that can sprint like nobody's business, get a Quarter Horse. If you want a horse that can haul heavy things, get a draft. It's not a slur against a Percheron to say it's got a slow gallop, it's just what it's been bred for. Labs weren't bred to be really independent minded like stock dogs, or singlemindedly follow scent trails, or chase down hares. They're good at what they were bred to do, and they're smart enough to do their jobs.

I like to throw tennis balls and watch Cersei swim and go for occasional jogs, and she's perfect just the way she is.

Breanna said...

I also was not bashing labs, I love the ones I've had! They try very hard to please, but like Funder said they are not independent thinkers.

It's also possible they are getting dumber as they are bred more for pets than for working dogs.

Laura Crum said...

Calm Forward Straight--I don't think I'm bashing Labs when I say that all the ones I have personally known (and my childhood dog was a Lab) were sweet, high energy and dumb (oh and loved to fetch). That is exactly what they have all been like. I'm sure there are smart Labs that I haven't met. But I have met (enough to know them) well over twenty Labs in my life. I think its a fair sample and allows me to make the generalization.

I LOVE Queensland heelers and when people ask me what they are like I tell them, "Smart, exceedingly stubborn and determined, and very hard to train." I found my Queensland heelers very entertaining and I enjoyed them--I think many people would have found them frustrating.

I'm not bashing Labs--I'm telling the truth about what I have seen. Yes, I'm not interested in owning a Lab--there are heaps of nice breeds I'm not interested in owning. For one thing I don't want a big dog. For another, as I said, I like smart dogs. Some people, like Funder, like the typical Lab personality. I can totally understand why. Some people like border collies (very smart dogs, also very hyper). I don't want such an anxious hyper dog. Like all intelligent dog owners, I actively seek the sort of dog I enjoy most, which is an intelligent dog that doesn't constantly need entertainment and exercise to be happy (not too high energy, in other words).

As you say, it really does depend on the work you have for a dog. If you've got lots of sheep to herd every day, go get that border collie. You got ducks to fetch out of the water? Perhaps a Lab is your best choice (I wouldn't know about that). Most of our dogs are pets and we have different lifestyles, so different dogs work best for different people.

And finally, this gal i wrote about in the post, in my opinion, wanted a Lab because Labs are cool right now. Maybe she also thought it would be a good family dog. But I can guarantee you she could have found a good family dog if she had done a little thoughtful searching at the animal shelter. My sweet little terrier cross is a wonderful family dog--and was about to be euthanised at the local shelter. So sad to think that many very sweet dogs are put down because folks got to have that trendy purebred.

Dom said...

You know my thoughts on labs.

As for your friend... I am mortified. What a terrible thing to do.

Laura Crum said...

Dom--I hate to say this, but uhmm, do you have strong feelings about Labs? I don't remember that. Hope I didn't piss you off.

I really didn't mean to attack Labs so much as just express how upset I felt at this particular situation. "Friend" euthanizes old, inconvenient mutt in order to get fancy, purebred, trendy dog. When I was looking for a puppy, I did look for a Queensland, but finally decided it was not a good choice to spend money on a purebred dog when so many dogs really needed homes. And I guess going through that particular bout of soul searching sort of created the "bones" of this post.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Laura, Funder, Breanna -

My point wasn't defending the smarts of labs per se, but disagreeing with broad breed-based generalizations. I've met many smart, motivated labs. Perhaps the difference is because they were actual working dogs.

I used to refer to my lab/pit mix as a Gulf Stream Retriever to avoid the reaction that the dreaded words pit bull would bring. People treated my dog differently based on a label, not on how she behaved.

My (first) horse is an ottb. Hot, spooky, hard to handle, reactive... Nope, he's mellow, calm and tends to laziness. Oh yeah - with lots of bone and an easy, easy keeper. If I'd listened to the "typical thoroughbred" talk I'd probably not have bought him.

I just think that sweeping generalizations aren't really accurate, or helpful. Our dogs (and horses) are individuals just as we humans are. Their upbringing and environments have much to do with how they turn out.

CG said...

I've gotten my best dogs from the animal shelter or they've been
"free puppies". We have also had a Lab/Pit Cross who was so freaking smart and cool that we went and got a pure bred after he died. Unfortunately the PB was the laziest thing I've ever known! Sweet though.

Currently we've taken in have a German Shepherd that was on his way to the dog pound. I think I will always have a GSD from now on, I LOVE this dog. Except for the hair:)

AareneX said...

I've got purebred shelties and always have had. And no matter what people say about herding dogs, I've only had one sheltie in the batch that could outsmart a bag of bananas. Our latest sheltie, Roo, is BY FAR the dumbest dog I have EVER trained, and she is a delight and a joy. She is, seriously, an awesome dog and we still can't figure out why the former owners "needed" to get rid of her. But she's dumb. Doesn't bother her (or us) a bit. Like Funder, I've got a difficult horse--and dumb dogs are easy!

As for the situation with your friend, I'm not convinced that she put the old dog down in order to make room for the new dog. I've been accused of that myself (by people who don't know me well, obviously). As it happened, we got the new dog just before the old dog was diagnosed with a fast-moving cancer. How fast? 6 days from "something ain't right with the dog" to planting a tree above her grave.

Give the benefit of kind thoughts, sez me. They might even be correct, and wouldn't that be nice?

redhorse said...

What your friend did was probably despicable. I say that as I sit next to my old Aussie who is having a rather bad day.

I have nothing against purebred breeders who find good homes for their puppies (where they won't end up in the shelter), who don't breed dogs with genetic or temperament problems. Sometimes you just want a dog who is bred for a certain job, like you want a horse bred for a certain job.

I have to say, if your friend knew her old dog was suffering and she took him to the vet and stayed with him as he passed on, that's not really so bad for the dog, whatever her motivation. If she dumped him at a shelter (as one of my neighbors did with her old dogs) I would gladly ring her neck for you.

alison said...

Whew, comments are a flying! Two cents worth -- we have always adopted a rescue but also purebreds from rescue organizations. All our Labs were super with family. Our now rescues are not good with children and one has constant issues we are working with, calmly, but I also have to remind myself if he ever seriously bites someone he will have to be euthanized. So far, vigilance and training are working, but a rescue dog we know just bit a groomer who was excellent with dogs and she had worked with him many times. She needed seventeen stitches.

Laura Crum said...

CFS--With all due respect, I disagree with you. I agree with Funder when she pointed out that different breeds were developed for different purposes--in both dogs and horses--and in general, certain traits are likelier in certain breeds. I've known many TB's and I'd have to say that yours would be the exception to the general rule. And I do think that broad "breed based" generalizations are mostly accurate--as long as a person realizes that there will be individuals who don't fit the generalization.

CG--I have had only negative experiences with GSD's (who belonged to others, not me), so am not a fan. But I have friends who absolutely love these dogs and would never have anything else.

Aarene--My experience of shelties is much like yours. And obviously you've had more experience than me. And there are reasons, which I didn't go into in the post, why I believe the "friend" put the old dog down because she was inconvenient. I don't hate or even really judge this person--as I said in the post. It just upset me--perhaps because it hit a little too close to home, me having an extremely inconvenient old dog and having at times allowed that thought to cross my mind. I love my old dog and will care for her until she no longer enjoys life, but I have walked this walk with several old dogs before, and it is not an easy walk for the human (sometimes).

redhorse--I cannot believe this woman dumped her dog at a shelter. But then, I don't want to believe it. Still, I think she just would not do that. I am guessing she had the dog euthanized. And I am not going to ask her. I can at least extend that much kindness.

Laura Crum said...

alison--I totally agree with you. We had two families in our neighborhood when I was a kid who had GSD's. Both these dogs were known to bite and yet the families kept them around. In the end one bit his owner so severely she needed skin grafts and one bit a neighbor girl so badly she need more than twenty stitches in her leg (this would be one reason I'm not a fan of GSD's). I think that, in general, a dog that has bitten someone hard enough that the person needs stitches (and the person was not an intruder, but someone the dog had reason to know was not a threat) will bite severely again. I could tell many more stories, but it is my honest opinion that such dogs should be euthanized after the first severe biting episode.

I will admit that I make exceptions for dogs that snap and don't draw blood. Half the herding breed dogs I ever knew would snap (as they are bred to snap at the heels of livestock), but they never actually hurt anyone (and again, are bred not to hurt the livestock). I put snapping in a very different category from serious biting.

jenj said...

RE your friend, without knowing what the exact circumstances were, it seems like it would be unfair to judge. It's possible that her old dog went downhill rapidly and suddenly, and the puppy was added after for the children's benefit, and she doesn't want to discuss it in front of the children. It's also possible that something else happened. Offering condolences on the loss of her beloved pet is probably the nicest thing you can do, regardless of how events really went down.

As for Labs being dumb, I've had minimal experience with them... but the experience I had was training an assistance dog who is now happily helping a lady in a wheelchair. Reba was by far the easiest dog I've ever trained - she was very willing to please and very food motivated. At 18 months she knew over 30 commands and was a model citizen. She's certainly not a "dumb" dog, but she's not one to think for herself - she is most happy following commands. Our pet dog is a wickedly smart Malamute mix, who is about the most independent, hard-to-train dog I've ever met. He's not food motivated and isn't interested in following commands if it's not what he wants to do. So tell me, which dog is "smarter"? To me, it's hard to compare.

Laura Crum said...

jenj--I think perhaps it depends on your definition of smart. Personally, I would call the Lab trainable and the Malamute smart--others may think differently. In general, I think smart dogs are often less easy to train. They have ideas of their own. My little terrier cross knows more words than any dog I have ever had. But there are certain commands she does not WANT to learn--because she feels they are not in her best interests. So she stubbornly resists the command--though I know full well she understands it. This amuses me greatly. But yeah, she's not as trainable as some dogs, despite the fact she's smart.

I understand your impulse to kindness in the situation with the friend. And I have done nothing unkind. I'm just struggling with my feelings about the situation. Without going into tedious detail--what exactly she said about purebred Lab puppies while I knew for a fact (because she told me) that Maxi was doing fine, the way the woman avoided eye contact...etc, I can hardly justify my gut feeling that she put her old dog down because the dog was inconvenient.

Laura Crum said...

Just for the record, and to address the many good points brought up in the comments.

1) I have no intention of saying anything unkind to this woman. She doesn't do facebook or read blogs. I was using this blog and the discussion to sort out whether my feelings were appropriate--not to bash someone.

2) I have known two other people who to my certain knowledge (they told me) put down once beloved family dogs because they were old and incontinent. The first time this happened I was in my 20's and my first ever own dog was in his prime and I was terribly shocked when this 30ish friend announced calmly that she was putting her dog down for these reasons. She wasn't at all ashamed and when I said that the dog seemed otherwise healthy and reasonably happy (though getting stiff) she just said "Its time. She's getting incontinent." As though that were an adequate reason. And maybe it is, for some folks. So it does happen and maybe its not a big deal to others. Like I said in the post, I'm just trying to process my own feelings. But I will admit that I shied away from that first friend/acquaintance all those many years ago, after I learned her choice about her dog.

TBDancer said...

Several posts on my Facebook feed refer to older dogs in shelters. I think when I get my next dog(s), I will adopt the older ones. Yes, more medical bills. Yes, more tears because they won't last as long as puppies (but then I'm not going to last forever, either).

To me the prime directive is QUALITY OF LIFE. It is my guiding principle to keeping any animal alive versus sending it on its next journey. I have said goodbye to many four-leggeds whose quality of life was not good. I look forward to seeing them again some day.

Laura Crum said...

TBDancer--I agree about your point on quality of life. Sadly this often becomes a gray area as a dog gets older. My old dog, like the dog in the post, is cheerful, eats well, loves to be petted and does not seem to have any pain. She walks stiffly, can be a bit unsteady at times, wheezes when she breathes, is deaf, can act a little confused and leaks urine from time to time. I think this dog is still enjoying her life as much as an old dog (she is 15) can. Another person might feel that she could put this dog down because "quality of life" is not good enough-- and the dog is certainly showing signs of age and not as perky as she used to be (this could be said of me, too). For me the bottom line is whether an animal still enjoys his/her life--not whether the the once beloved animal has become an inconvenient nuisance from the human's pint of view.