Monday, June 08, 2009

Decisions, decisions. Also, I apparently haven't lost my sick sense of humor.

So, anyone who is a Facebook friend knows that I'm having my dog put to sleep. The decision-making process has been both incredibly difficult and incredibly illuminating, from a self-knowledge type of perspective.

I have never been one to dilly-dally when making a decision. I hate the feeling of being in limbo, so once I weigh the pros and cons, I make a decision and I go with it. My feeling is, if it's a bad decision, then I'll take another route, but short of committing murder, there are very few decisions in life that can't be fixed. When I decided I was ready to buy a house, I found a realtor and, armed with the knowledge of what my budget was and where I could afford to live, I found a house and put a contract on it within a weekend. When I didn't like my job, I found another one. When I decided to try my hand at the Baby Boot Camp franchise, I thought about it, talked to Jason, and pulled the trigger. It ended up being a failure, but whatever. Live and learn.

But the decision to euthanize a dog, like the commission of a murder, can't be undone. Which is why I think I've been waffling. And it's a foreign, uncomfortable feeling.

The truth is, my dog Max is 12 years old. He's been going blind for years, but the process is now complete. He spends his life bumping into walls, into furniture, stumbling down stairs, and tripping down curbs. He has a massive fatty cyst/tumor on his side that doesn't seem to be growing, but it's enormous. His legs shake constantly, and the shaking has gotten worse, particularly in his hind legs. He has difficulty getting up from a lying-down position, and lately seems disinclined to get up to go for a walk. In the past month, the weakness in his hind legs has gotten so bad that occasionally when he squats down to poop, he can't hold himself up and he collapses.

In other words, as Kathleen so astutely put it, he's not having alot of fun these days.

Jason has been talking about how we should put him down, but it's always been a "we should think about doing this" kind of thing, not a "call the vet tomorrow" kind of thing. And for all of his infirmities, he still wags his tail when I scratch his belly and has periods when he doesn't seem so uncomfortable.

But then yesterday, we went out for a couple of hours, and when we got home, Max had fallen down the stairs to the basement. He hadn't broken anything, but he was really shaken up, and when Jason tried to walk him, Max could barely hold himself up.

That's when I knew it was time.

Today, I called a vet. Max had his shots and got a health clearance before leaving Hawaii (which doesn't mean he's totally healthy, it just means he can fly on a plane without dying on the spot), so we hadn't taken him to the vet here. So I had to call a vet that Max had never seen before and basically say, "uh, I think my dog is on his last legs and has no quality of life, how do I make the decision as to whether to have him put to sleep or not?"

And the response was, "it's pretty much up to you."

Which is not the answer I wanted. I went into Kathleen's office in tears.

"I don't want somebody to put it all on me. I want someone to say to me, 'Wendy, you need to do this.'"

And Kathleen, bless her, looked me in the eye and said, "Wendy, you need to do this."

She was right. And once the decision was made, I was sad and crying, but I was back in familiar territory, because I knew it was the right decision. I called the vet back, and they put me on the schedule for 10:30 tomorrow, which was pretty much the only opening they had this week.

Jason expressed dismay at how quickly it's going to happen. "Can't I take some time to say good-bye?"

Um, no. We could put it off for a day or so, assuming that the vet had an opening (which they don't), but having made the decision, I can't put off the actual event for days on end. I'm emotionally and mentally there now, and I just want to get it over with.

I told Kathleen about Jason's reaction, and she tsk-tsked. "He's been urging you to do it for months, and now that you've decided to do it, he wants you to put it off? Doesn't he know that once you've made your decision, you're done?"

And I had to laugh, because she's so right. I find it both disconcerting and comforting that she knows me so well.

Another thing that made me laugh was a Facebook message I got from an old high school friend of mine. I have received a number of public comments offering condolences, but rather than add to them, he sent me a private message.
I was going to post 'how many dogs have to be put to sleep before facebook adds a don't like button" and have everyone you know hate me, but I figured I would make it a message and have only you hate me.
And you know what? I don't hate him. I fucking can't stop giggling. Does that make me a bad person?


  1. You are doing the right thing. I am sorry, though.

    Also, this should go on the list of why Kathleen is good peeps.


  2. I had to have my 18-year-old Pekingese, whom I'd had since I was 12, put to sleep 6 years ago (obvs, when I was 30). It really sucked and I hate it for you!

    (Also, I'm very much the same as you in terms of of making quick decisions, not looking back, and once I decide, I'm done.)

  3. That is a funny messgae. it sucks but it will be best for Max.

  4. Oh, this makes me sad for all of you. It is so incredibly hard. I haven't been so much on Facebook lately, so I hadn't seen that. It was devastating when we had to put our dog to sleep, but it was the kindest thing to do. We'd been postponing but at a certain point it was selfish and so unfair to her. Hugs to you.

  5. ECD - I do feel like it was the right thing. I'm sad, but not morally conflicted. And Kathleen is good peeps, sho 'nuff.

    Suz - it's a totally shitty thing to have to do. But once the decision was made, I knew it was the right one.

    Josh - I'm still giggling about it. So perverse.

    Lisa - thanks, babe. It was really tough, but I don't doubt the decision at all. He's in a better place now, where he can run around and see everything and not be in pain.