I have long held the belief that there are dog owners and dog lovers, and that the two can be very far apart.
I’ve always thought myself to be in the latter camp, but now I’m starting to doubt myself.
Years ago, when my hound was a very young pup, he was registered with the Ardmore Veterinary Group in Sudbury, Suffolk. I used to take him there for his check ups, and every time I went in I read the poem on the wall that used to break me. It made me cry every single time. The poem was written from a dog’s perspective, asking his owner not to keep him alive for himself, but to show him the respect that he deserves after a lifetime together, and to not let him suffer. I vowed, from the very first time I read it, to respect these words
Now, 14 and a bit years on, the time is close for my faithful old friend. Through one divorce, 2 long term relationship break downs, several shorter term ones, five different house moves and countless other disturbances, he has always been the one constant.
He is almost totally deaf, his eyesight is failing, his hips let him down from time to time, and yet, as he’s grown into these things, he’s accepted them with his habitual quiet good humour and he lives with them, still always happy to get outside and sit under his favourite bush in the front garden, where he is still the master of all he surveys. He still even manages to bark at the tractor as it surprises him, sneaking up on him in the way that tractors do when you’re deaf as a post.
Yesterday, for the first time ever, he did something he shouldnt. He had a poo in the house. He has NEVER done this before. He hasnt ever even been in the garden before, always waiting until we left our own grounds, as he knew that this was the done thing. I had been fiddling around with a car in front of the house, but the back door had been open all afternoon, and yet he’d gone on his own bed.
So, as a dog lover I know the time has come. I know that I can show him the dignity that he deserves, and also that the law affords, but…… just how difficult is this decision to make? I know he’s no longer “all there” for him to have done his business in the house. I know his hips fail him, causing him to wake me at all hours of night because he’s fallen and cant get back up. I know that with his rapidly failing eyesight life isn’t becoming any easier for him. I also know that I’ve always said “I’ll never let him suffer, he deserves much better than that.”
I know that all I have to do is call the vet, and the wonderful lady will come to the house and do what needs to be done. I know, totally and utterly, that this is what I have to do, but that bloody telephone wont seem to work in my hand, quite probably because its drowning in the rivers of tears falling onto it.
I will do it, I know I must, anyone who’s taken the decision before knows what I’m going through now, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. A simple call, a quick visit, a brief, painless injection and he’ll be asleep forever, no longer having to wait for me to drag him out of a ditch because he’s stuck.