Every now and then I read about dogs being put down. Some are put down for no apparent reason other than that they are dogs. Some are put down because they are too sick or too badly injured to be saved. Whatever the reason, it hurts me deep inside that dogs are being put down instead of being allowed to live to the very end of their natural lives.
Still, once in a while, I do come across news about people who are willing to be together with their dogs to the very end. One such person is John Unger from Wisconsin. He adopted Shoep, a rescue dog, when it was only eight months' old. Now Shoep is 19 years old and suffers from arthritis. It's hard for Shoep to fall asleep because of its condition. Then John found a way to lull his beloved companion to sleep, by floating in the lake. Just look how blissful Shoep is in John's arms!
Do you have any experiences with old dogs? What do you think of the practice of putting dogs to sleep permanently?
It is a touchy subject. If the dog is suffering badly, then people who keep those dogs are doing it for themselves, not for the dogs. However, if the dog's suffering can be helped as in the case of this wonderful man named John Unger, then he/she can be saved. I cannot stand when anyone puts down a healthy dog that is not vicious. Of course what is worse is people who abuse animals.
America's hero: John Unger
America's most wanted: Michael Vick
I am for putting dogs to sleep to alleviate their pain and suffering. I would be for the same for humans as well. I believe there are times when it is necessary and it is compassionate. It is worse to let the dog suffer from illness or injury. I don't mean a sore paw and touch of stomach ache. There are times when medicine can't ease the suffering.
I would ask the question in reverse. If your dog is suffering from a disease or injury that has diminished it's quality of life and has no viable treatment, is it right to keep it alive? Who are you keeping it alive for? Are you doing it because the dog's still has some quality of life left and is happy to be alive or because you don't want to face the grief?
I have had to put two dogs to sleep due to diseases that had no treatment and I've had one die in my arms. Neither is easy.
The decision to end a pets life is a difficult one that takes so much introspection. You can't enter it lightly. I know someone who had their dog put to sleep, rather than surrender it at a shelter, because they were tired of it. That I cannot fathom.
I think the crux of the problem here is a matter of choice.
A human being who is terminally ill can make a choice to end his life. No one else can make that decision for him. In the case of a dog, the dog is never consulted. Yes, to our eyes, the dog is suffering. How do we know that the dog does not prefer to live on as long as possible so long as it can be with its owner even though it's suffering?
We console ourselves by saying that death is peace. How do we really know that? How do we really know what is on the other side of the great divide? If death is really a total void made up of absolute nothingness, then isn't just one more second of life, even though it's a second of pain and suffering, still better than a total blank?
Remember death is a one-way journey with no return ticket.
The company that took the picture (and has been getting a lot of attention for it lately) is called Stonehouse Photography. They have a Facebook page if you're interested in "liking" them to see more how this story unfolds right from the source. I had inadvertently heard about it through some Photography pages I follow on Facebook, when the story initially started getting some buzz.
I had a coonhound that tore some ligaments in her leg when it got stuck in her chain - she got into a scuffle with another dog. She was always in discomfort for the remainder of her life, and would sometimes just stop and lift her leg and not move for minutes. We gave her baths in the utility sink, but only with just a few inches of water, and hosed her off - because she hated getting baths. We were just trying to get her in and out asap. I'm wondering now if soaking her in a deeper bath would have helped her out a little.
I see. So you are going to try some deep water therapy. I think that's a good idea. Maybe you can fill your bath-tub full of warm water and put your coonhound in it. Together with you. Maybe she wouldn't mind taking a bath if you are also getting wet with her. I know my Candy doesn't mind taking a bath with me.
Quote: ... it hurts me deep inside that dogs are being put down instead of being allowed to live to the very end of their natural lives.
How can anyone sit by and watch their beloved pet be in absolute agony when there is no hope of them making a recovery? I have had two dogs put to sleep and it's not something that I took lightly or did for my own convenience. Both had serious conditions which were no longer treatable and with both were in a lot of pain. I did it because I loved them and I was the only one who could ease their pain and suffering. What is the point of forcing a dying dog to go through the trauma of a slow and lingering death just to ease the owners guilt? I was there when both my dogs were born and I was there when their life ended. I had them put to sleep because I loved them unconditionally.
One of the posters above made the comment that we don't put elderly or sick people down, so why should we put down our pets. Well, if it were not against the law, many individuals would opt to be "put down" when they are terminally ill just to end their suffering. Humans don't have that option because it is illegal. If it were legal I guarantee people would opt for it in cases of extreme suffering.
With our pets, I don't understand why a person would keep a pet that is suffering constant pain alive. I had a dog put to sleep once, and it was such a hard decision, but she had quit eating, couldn't walk and would just cry out in pain on and off through out the day no matter what we did to try and help her. It would've been cruel to keep her alive any longer, so we did the humane thing.
I definitely have seen instances of people putting down pets just because they became a nuisance or too much work in their old age (for example, they became incontinent because of advanced age). Your pet being an inconvenience is not an excuse to have them put to sleep. Suck it up buttercup, and continue caring for your pet.
OhioTom, I follow a foundation that rescues disabled dogs and helps them rehabilitate from their injuries. I know of one story of a dog that was partially paralyzed in his back legs after being hit by a car. The family surrendered the dog at an animal shelter two weeks after the accident. They either did want to take care of it or couldn't afford the surgeries. I think it was probably the later.
This foundation took the dog. He needed surgery on his back to repair damage. Then, he needed rehabilitation and therapy. The dog spent quite a lot of time doing water therapy.
He walks with a wheel chair now, but after a year of rehab, he has some use of his back legs again. They expect that he will regain most if not all of his movement.
So, if water therapy can help a dog that had what was seen as permanent damage, it may be good in other cases as well. They use it for humans with arthritis, don't they?
Our Border Collie, Patch, was 17 years old when he died from a stroke. That's a good age for that breed. For about three weeks before he died, we could see he was slowly deteriorating, but he didn't seem to be in pain, and he was still eating well and socialising, although he didn't really want to go out for long walks. We decided that once he went off his food, or couldn't get to his feet, we'd call in the vet so that he could be put to sleep in his own surroundings.
It didn't get to that stage, thankfully. He went outside to relieve himself one night, and coming back into the house, his legs gave way under him. It was late at night, so we got him indoors between us. When he flopped down on the floor, I got some cushions and sat down with him, with his head cradled in my lap. He loved chocolate, but of course, it's toxic for dogs, and we'd never given him more than a tiny bit. I sent Tony out to get some for him, and I fed it to him bit by bit, and talked to him all the time. I sat there on the floor, with his head in my lap, until he passed away the next morning.
I kept either talking to him or stroking him, so he knew he wasn't alone, and that he was loved. Then we asked our grown up sons to help us to bury him under his favourite tree in the garden. He used to sit under the plum tree on warm summer days, so it seemed right that it should be his final resting place. I'm glad we did that for Patch - it was small repayment for the years of pleasure and companionship he gave us.
This has bothered me for many years. I am always watching Animal Cops and in almost every episode, they put the dog down. I will never understand that because they don't do that to humans so why do it to dogs. I think it's unfair that we have the opportunity to live until we have our last breath but if a dog is missing one single hair then the world is done with them. Okay, I am exaggerating but I'm certain you get my point. I have never had an old dog; unfortunately, we always had to give them away whenever we moved so I never had the opportunity to watch a dog get old. However, my grandmother had an old dog and they are just as loving as a younger dog. They may move differently and their behavior may be different as well but that means nothing. I commend John Unger for continuing to love his dog unconditionally because that's what it's all about. I plant to get another dog and watch it grow old and I would never put it to sleep--I will be right there when he/she takes their last breathe.
I saw this story awhile ago, and I like it a lot. I agree that people are too quick to put their dogs down sometimes. I understand putting them out of their misery if they are hopeless, but at the same time, just because a dog is getting older, doesn't mean it's life is up. What if someone said to you, oh, you're getting old, you're 50. You've lived long enough. It's like, hey wait, I have many good years left!
I think there are times when putting an pet down is the most humane thing we can do. But to do it just for the sake of getting rid of an animal is wrong, however, if that animal is overly dangerous or very sick with an incureable disease like cancer or rabies, or was hit by a car and had massive injuries, it would be very understandable.
It is would have been a very hard decision, as for most of us our pets are like family members and it breaks our hearts to lose them. I still miss my dogs, every single one of them.
I can not imagine though brow-beating someone who out of that love for their pet had to have it put down. That only serves the person who's opinion is based on their beliefs and not judged on the condition of a pet when it had to be put to sleep.
We all want our pets to live long happy lives, but sometimes fate rears it's ugly head, and what we want is not what we get.
This is one of the hardest parts of owning an animal, is to determine whether they are suffering and need to be put to sleep. Sometimes, there is not really any other choice, if they are dying anyway, and suffering.
The thing that I hate to see is the supposed humane shelters that pick up stray or wandering dogs, and then kill them, just because the owner doesn't ave the money to rescue the dog. The TV shows usually make a big thing out of the fact that they rescued the animals, and then at the end, they say that the animals were put down. So how is that rescuing ?
The shelters have continued to go up in price to adopt an animal, so that people can't afford to either adopt, or to rescue their own dog, and then the shelters will sooner kill the dog than let it be adopted for an affordable price.
I believe it depends on the amount of pain a dog is suffering due to it's medical condition. Unlike humans, animals do not understand why they are constantly in pain. If the condition is curable or it can be relieved with medication then of course keep the dog alive. If I had a dog with an uncurable condition that condemns it to suffering for the rest of its natural life, I would rather see it put gently to rest and end its suffering. I think that would be the kindest thing I could do for a suffering animal.
I believe in rescue and adoption for dogs as well as cats. Let them live their natural lives out to the fullest. Euthanasea just to cut their lives short to cut down on the animal population, is wrong. It's only acceptible in the end, when they are in pain from dying so that they can have a peaceful rest on their way over to Rainbow Bridge.
It may not make a difference, but having lived my entire life in the country, I and my family have never put a dog down. We have always comforted and kept them until they pass on. The fact that there have always been kids around may be one of the reason. I don't know. Another reason may be that we have never really had dogs that were in a bad enough state to put down.
Many of the dogs raised here are family pets for years. Most of the time, when these dogs feel death coming on they leave and find a quiet place to die. We've had this happen on a few occasions. We've never known when it will happen. The dogs have never given us any sign. They just leave and we never see them again. We look for them and when it is obvious that we won't find them, know that it is the end, because these dogs know their boundaries and never stray from them. It is always sad, but the seems to be the natural course here anyway.
Many years ago, I adoped a dog from and animal shelter. Snow was about 2 yrs old at the time. He was about 40lbs and when I got him, he had black spots on his skin. The vet says he was most likely a dalmation/lab mix. As he got older, the spots disappeared. Snow was a faithful companion to me for 20 yrs. He slept at the foot of my bed, laid close to me when I was in another room, and loved to go for walks and play fetch. As he grew older, he was no longer able to get up on the bed or go up and down the few steps I had to go outside, so I would carry him. One night he wanted up in my lap which was unusual. I held him in my arms and he put his head on my shoulder. After what seemed like just a few minutes, he let out a big sigh and was gone. That was 5 yrs ago, and I still miss my faithful companion. I like to believe that he will be waiting to great me in Heaven.
Years ago, before there were apparatus to help crippled dogs walk, I had to put my beautiful, black, pure bred German Shepherd to sleep. She was only nine years old, her heart was good and strong, but, she had stopped eating due to the pain in her hind quarters.
She had hip dysplasia, which we knew about when we adopted her at six months old, but, as she aged, arthritis set in and no matter how much she may have wanted to live, and I wanted her to live, the pain she was in must have been horrific.
She could no longer walk up the short flight of stairs to the main rooms of the home (we lived in a bi-level.) She stayed at the front door landing.
I brought food and water to her and the look in her eyes was as if she was saying, "No, I choose no more of this." She refused to eat or drink. She could no longer climb the five stairs to the upper level where the bedrooms were. She had always slept on the floor at my side of the bed.
I firmly believe in quality of life over quantity. As heart-wrenching as it is to put our pets to sleep, it is much kinder than letting them die naturally if "natural" is a painful course.
I agree with you completely. I will be so sad when the day comes that I have to put down my two best friends. They are two peas in a pod too, so I'm sure the one won't last long without the other It's heart breaking and I like to think about it, however, I will never let them suffer because of my own selfish wants and needs.
They are amazing animals and I love them dearly. It's just part of the cycle of life, even though it's hard and it down right breaks my heart....it's worth having them! They make my heart happy!
There is useful suffering and useless suffering. If a dog is suffering and there is no chance of it getting better, I think the best thing is for it to be put down. In that case, that's useless suffering, and that's really selfish in my opinion. I have an aunt who just won't let her dog go even though he has no strength to even stand up and when he does, he can't even stand up and has to drag himself around... It's so sad. He looks so sad. She doesn't even look at him anymore because she knows what she's doing is wrong and yet she's too selfish to let her loved pet go painlessly instead of forcing it to stay with her.