The decision to euthanize a pet is described in many online advice posts as filled with the potential for showing great love for a longtime, faithful friend.
I have presided over the passing of several faithful dogs over 35 years of being a pet owner. None were easy decisions, but all were clearly the right choices at the time. I was most perplexed by the passing of our Daisy Mae King several weeks ago.
The passing of my other dogs was precipitated by certain, clear evidence of illness. Cancers had developed in them, they stopped eating or playing. They were clearly in pain.
In some cases, I believe I waited too long, but needed to gather information about our pet’s condition before making such a decision.
As Daisy, a mix of Retriever and Chow, aged toward her ultimate 19th year, her health obviously began to falter. She developed tumors, which could have been benign. She lost her hearing and eyesight.
The perplexing bit was the changing nature in her that is symptomatic of people or dogs with dementia. I had never known a dog to grow old enough to experience that loss of mental ability.
I came to understand that dogs have some symptoms characteristic of the disease, however.
She would bark throughout the house at times when there seemed to be no clear reason. She would stand in a corner of the room and bark. She would pace the floors throughout the night and isolate herself when she would previously have been right next to a family member. She became incontinent or unaware of house training that had served her well for 18 years. She moved around stiffly and uncertainly.
And then at other times, she would smile and dance at our feet.
With the symptoms of dementia alternating with this happy expression of her puppyhood for more than a year, we decided to keep her with us. But when the bloody stools showed up around the house, indicating a more imminently physical problem, the time seemed to have arrived.
Easley veterinarian Dr. Jim Mulliken, who had known Daisy for many years, helped us through the final decision for Daisy.
Daisy certainly was a family member to be cherished. She was ever loyal and present.
If my wife Nancy was up late at night working, Daisy was in the office with her.
When young, daughter, Ashley, suffered a couple of seizures, Daisy began sleeping with Ashley on her bed, nuzzle across Ashley’s leg. It was Daisy’s decision, the Retriever, being the family member most capable of early detection of a seizures.
Daisy could be wary of strangers in the driveway, but certain individuals had proved themselves unacceptable in her eyes and were not allowed out of their vehicles.
Most delivery people were OK. Certain others were not. Regardless, Daisy made her presence known.
Jean Dobson worked for the family and was around when the children arrived home from school. Daisy always stood between Mrs. Jean and the UPS or FedEx delivery people, just in case.
Daisy was also a bit of a local celebrity having outlasted being hit by a car at about age 8, she remains one of the interesting cases listed on Liberty’s Foothills Animal Hospital’s website.
We need to see such pets as special gifts and as offering special gifts to their families. Daisy will certainly be remembered, celebrated and appreciated by ours.