When is it time?

I was away on vacation last week; and while on vacation there were several things that I saw that will be blogs.  This is the first and most poignant one that was brought on by watching.  I was in my room which was located over a beautiful beach.  One end of the beach had an entrance for the general public and their dogs.  I sat watching looking over the bay as the sun set behind the mountains I noticed a woman and her dog.  The dog was a  very senior Golden Retriever; his age was obvious by his movement and lack there of.   What played out before me was a very sad scene.

The old dog was only able to take two steps at a time before collapsing onto the sand.  The woman who was obviously accustom to his slow pace waited for him to gain enough strength so that he could get to his feet and take a few more steps.  As I watched the old dog I thought about Luke and wondered how he was doing back home with the sitter.  I leaned over the rail so that I could better see the dog as he attempted to get to his feet at his owners coaxing.  Once on his feet he stood and contemplated the pain of taking one more step.  My heart sunk as I watched.  

The dog's body language and struggle told the story.  He was done.  I watched the two a long while; the old dog tried to relieve himself and then collapsed again.  Each time he was brought to his feet again; his body sunk as he stood and contemplated another step.  He had nothing left; but, in all honesty, that was from my vantage point.  Did his owner see something that I could not?  Perhaps.  Or maybe she was not been able to see clearly, due to a deep need.  A need so strong that she could not pull her need and his apart as separate entities.  

When is it time?  It is not an easy answer and no one can tell a canine companion when.  The only way to know is to look at a dog's life, their day to day.   How much joy does a dog have in their daily life?  Does their pain outweigh it all?  Is it too much for any living creature to have to endure?  We must remove ourselves from the equation; put aside our desire to have them with us forever and think of them and only them.  We should not factor into the question of when; because if it were up to us we would always have them by our side.  

I watched as the old dog struggled with each step and felt a pain in my heart for him.  Perhaps a walk on the beach in his early years would have brought much happiness; but now it just brought with it struggle and pain.  As sad as it is to make the final decision we must; each dog lover will make it at least once in their lifetime, often many times over.  I have to say that with each passing of a much loved canine; it has become clearer for me.  When we cannot allow our dogs to move on because we love them too much; we fail them as their guardian and make a decision for us, not them.  When we step out of the picture and look at our dog alone; the clouds move away and we can see much clearer.  

When is it time?  Step away and see clearly.   


  1. I was in this position three years ago.
    The decision did not come easy. Since I was scheduled to be away for the next few weeks, I thought long and hard on what to do. The decision was easy once I removed myself from the equation and only though
    of Lakoma. Did I want her last minutes to be with other people, no. Did I want her to bear the shame of incontinence, no. Did I want her to wonder where I was instead of being there with her,no. So with the assist of a wonderfully caring nurse, we had a party. Lakoma as the guest of honor had the food she loved best, filet mignon, shrimp and chicken. We sat together on the lawn her head in my lap. I crooned sweet words to her, thanking her for loving me. Now was not the time to linger too long, I had a happy Lakoma and I knew
    it was time she had been drugged and was in no pain, this was difficult for me as she looked like that younger version of herself. AM I wrong, is it too soon? No, not for her just for my selfishness. Three years later, I am starting again. The need to rescue dogs is a very strong one. The desire to give them pleasure is so enormous. Here I go again, this time with my big boy Bentley.

  2. I have had to make this decision 6 times already and will no doubt have to make it many more as we current have 2 spoos and a toy and another spoo hopefully on the way. They are all my babies, and the decision each time was horrible but I looked at it from their point of view: would I want to live in their position and when the answer was no, I knew what I had to do. If we are honest with ourselves we do know when it's time and occasionally it is a lot sooner than we expect but would we rather have not had them in ours lives with all the love and joy they gave us and the answer is no. This is the last good thing we can do for them, putting an end to their pain. Then look at the joy another brings, never to replace then one who's gone but to worm their way into your heart in their own unique way. The joy they bring to us over their lifetime far outweighs the pain we go through at the end and that is what we need to remember.


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