Monday, October 09, 2006


I am an emotional wreck. We have made the heartbreaking decision to put down our very old, very large dog whom we’ve had since she was a pup. She has not been doing well since we moved into an apartment over a year ago. Arthritis, cataracts, incontinence – diseases of age – afflict her & makes it hard for her to get up & walk on ceramic tiles, & she leaks pee if you don’t bring her downstairs fast enough. Hard for everyone.

I’ve been putting off this decision while desperately trying to find a good home with a garden for her to enjoy her last years with some degree of comfort but alas, in a country where most people live in government housing that disallows dogs beyond a certain size, it has been a futile effort. The fact that she is almost 11 years old, weighs 80 lbs & has these health problems don’t help either. It would be hard to find anyone willing to accept a pet like this, & not fair to burden someone else with these problems. We looked at a no-kill shelter to see if it was an option but seeing how overwhelmed they are with the number of dogs they have to foster, we didn’t see how our dog could be happy in that kind of situation.

Euthanasia is emotion-ridden. I think my reluctance to face this ultimate decision is partly for selfish reasons too. I don’t want to go through the trauma of loss & grief. Tears have come at the most unlikely moments. But I need to also think about the quality of life issue. Should I, due to my selfishness, allow her to go on like that? It breaks my heart each time I see her trying to struggle to get up so that we can bring her down for her toilet break. I suspect she has some degree of heart failure as well, as she pants really hard from just walking less than 100 m.

This is hard, and it involves an animal. How much harder would it be if it involved a human life. I can’t imagine how Dr Kevorkian did what he did, although if you look at it in a cold, clinical & detached way, it sounds like a logical solution to an existence wrought with pain & suffering. Problem is, as human beings, we aren’t cold or detached when it comes to a loved one. At least, we shouldn’t be. As for being clinical, well, the arguments for and against euthanasia among the medical community have been & will always be an ongoing & controversial one.

Stop crying, aliendoc.

Note: In my opinion, euthanasia & the Advance Medical Directive are two different issues.


nofearSingapore said...

My sympathies.
We lost our golden retriever sometime early this year.
The vet says that he has lymphoma and he finally succumbed from Malaena ( gastro-intestinal bleeding) as he was prescribed some steroids. Long story.
We got over it. The other dog, also a golden retriever also got over it but he looks sad and sullen nowadays.
Life goes on.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear that. :(

aliendoc said...

Dr Huang: Thank you for your sentiments. The hard part is letting go & trying to see beyond one's personal selfish feelings in one's heart of trying to hold on to the dog despite your head telling to let her go. Putting my feelings down in words has certainly helped me to accept the inevitable...thank you for dropping in!

Anon - thank you for your kind wishes...

Anonymous said...

Putting a beloved pet down is one of the hardest decisions I`ve ever made. I made the decision to put my pet cat out of its misery last year. Had cancer and the vets told me that it was suffering and there was nothing more I could do. I held it in my arms until the very end, and I can never forget how very sad I felt that I had to do this. It`s so very different when your pet dies naturally. I have two dogs now and I hope I never have to make this kind of decision again.

You were brave to do it. And it was for the best, or you wouldn`t have done it and go thru such pain. Just remember the 11 years of the good life you've given your dog. Hang in there.

pretzel said...

i think it's better to let them go as painlessly as possible.. juz like the last 2 paras in your "DNR" entry.

You feel even worse when you see them gasping and struggling with their last breath.

Went thru' this twice...
both times, but regretted terribly that we didn't send them to the vet. :(