Saturday, 30 October 2010

How can I ever make that decision?

Our dog is getting very old.

Some of you might remember ( the ones who have been reading this blog for wa-a-ay too long)  that my first dog made his own choice and jumped off our 5th floor balcony back in Baku

Unfortunately for my 12-year old rottweiler, we live in a house now, with no balconies to throw himself of. Neither would he squeeze between the railings, for that matter. So he is stuck getting old and waiting to either pass away or for us to make that horrible, depressing decision: to help him. 

If thinking about putting your pet down makes you as sad as me, then here is a free advice from me:

Whatever you do, do NOT watch Marley and Me. It really is not what you might think it is. It is a depressing movie designed for all dog lovers in the world to suffer through every single minute of it. They trick you into watching it by calling it a dramedy, which implies it should- at least in some parts- be funny, but don't fall for it. You will cry. The only two movies more depressing than this one I can recommend ( if you are after hours of crying) are:

a) Dancer in the Dark with Bjork. Superb, by the way.
b) A.I.  You think it is over but nope, it goes on and on and on....forever. They don't even let you take a break in between your fits of sobbing.

Back in Baku, I don’t think putting pets down was such a common thing to do as it is in the UK. Maybe, it is because Azeri pets never stood a chance of survival in a country where the only medical professionals that are scarier than doctors are the vets. 

To be honest, whenever I heard of people putting their dogs down, I thought they were probably doing it too quickly, looking for an easy and clean solution. Maybe things got a bit messy. Maybe they just did not like looking after an old pet. No way! I thought. It is just cruel. To me, a pet was always a member of my family. If tomorrow, a human member of my family is too old and sick- like hmm...husband?- would I consider putting him down, too?

‘You should let him go with some dignity that he has left’ my hairdresser told me yesterday. She might not be any good at cutting hair (you should see me today!) but that sentence had more impact on me than anything else I had heard on the subject. Dignity. I never thought of it that way.

His back legs are getting too weak, he is becoming more and more incontinent, and all he wants to do is sleep all day long. I know he has had a great life, I know a lot of other dogs of this breed never make it to such a ripe age. And yet, how can I make that decision?  I don’t know if he is in any pain, I can’t tell if he is suffering. I can’t have him go to sleep just because I am fed up washing his bedding every other day and spending a fortune on special bed sheets. 

So, yes...Marley and Me...Not a good movie if you love dogs.


  1. I've never had a pet, but I've heard from people who have had one how devastated they were when their pet (usually dogs) died. Some years ago, my brother in law had to put his beloved 16 year old mutt down. His whole family was so affected. Now there is a picture of Pancho on my sister's refrigerator.
    No matter what your final decision is, I can tell it will be a very hard one.

  2. Dancer in the dark... I didn't really like it.
    AI was tear-jerker. I think I couldn't watch it all over again.
    PD: my hair dresser is wonderful. Another reason to visit Lima.

  3. I am so sorry about your pet, it's always sad to let them go. It's always sad when a friend passes away :(.

    Btw, if you want to stay away from depressing movies involving pets, then dont watch Hachiko ( these days.

  4. My aforementioned mother-in-law has become a dog behavioral consultant some 15 years ago in her late fifties. She also had dozens of her own dogs. At any point in time she has at least five dogs and what’s interesting is that there is always at least one new dog. And if you ask her what happened to the previous dog, she says without any emotion “I put it down”. She puts them down without any hesitation. To be fair, she has “do not resuscitate” orders for her own life as well. She believes that life without dignity is not a life worth living. I’m personally somewhat horrified at all this, but I also have very little experience with pets.

  5. Based on your description, his days are counted, and he is not enjoying his life any more. Better make that decision soon, to put him out of his misery. I had a dog myself, I know what you are going through. But I probably would consult a vet or two before making up my mind completely.

  6. "And if you ask her what happened to the previous dog, she says without any emotion “I put it down”. She puts them down without any hesitation."

    When dogs are old, they can barely walk, breath, not to mention that there are also fatal diseases that affect pets. My cousin had to sacrifice a very beautiful 5 years old cat because a kind of cancer was killing it and there was nothing doctors could do about it. Seeing her pet barely being able to breath or move made her make that choice.

  7. @Reyhan: That would make things easier. If I knew he was suffering from cancer or was hardly alive, I would know what to do. But...He seems old but otherwise not that bad? I don't know. It is not easy!

    @Nata: Your mother in law sounds like someone I would probably respect, but never like. :)

    @Gabriela: Really, you did not think it was a great movie? I thought it was shocking but brutally realistic. Like the life itself.

  8. @Scary: Not many people like her. I don't always like her. She scares me sometimes with her coldness. I did my best over the years to show her respect and support their family events. Otherwise, she is a very low maintenance mother-in-law.