The Question of Euthanasia
For those of you that know Tyler, or have known Tyler. And for some of you, you may have known him most of his life... do the math. He's eleven. Now I'm well aware of how long a dog CAN live, but Tyler has been a running defective dog joke since about his 2nd birthday. And he is essentially defective and always has been. He's plagued by an extremely rare disease involving the group B muscles in his head and jaw. He's lived with a hypoactive thyroid for about five years now.
Now for the checklist.
Mobility - my dog still travels up and down stairs, though he rarely has to anyway. He's a little slower than he used to be, but he's allowed he's old. He's stiff in the mornings but jesus, so am I. But he doesn't hobble and when prompted he can still run a little.
Appetite/Eating - his appetite will never change. If nothing else, my dog can eat with the best of them. His jaw has been in good shape for years and he hasn't had any bouts with his disease where his jaw locks up for at least 3 or 4 years.
Breathing - While I don't know about every waking minute of the day I have no noticed any real change or difficulty in Ty's breathing. He seems to be find. When we do get the chance to go out and play he get winded a lot faster than he did when he was a puppy, but i don't have the energy i did when I was nine years old either. but on regular day to day standards, he breathes well as far as i'm aware.
Discomfort - Now, for anyone up to date, my dog has been battling a horrid ear infection for at least a year or two. We've stopped giving him antibiotics for it, the expense was getting rediculous and it just wasn't going away, there's a surgery for a couple thousand dollars that can fix the problem but at his age A) it's just not smart health wise and B) even if i had the money it would seem a bit of a waste seeing as even with it who knows how long he has left. Generally speaking he's not in unbearable pain over it, i mean i know it itches a lot, he spends a lot of time shaking his head back and forth which is a characteristic of doggy ear infections being itchy but he doesn't cry himself to sleep over it like he does when his jaw locks or when he gets his annoying stomach flus.
Incontinence - Well whilst my dog used to be the stud of being able to hold his bladder and colon. Times have changed. But he's still generally good at being able to make it outside. But now if no one lets him out, he doesn't bark and alert anyone that he has to go, he just gives up and goes in the garage. Which is getting really fucking annoying to be honest and it's hard to be sensitive about this part of the issue. But I'm sure he hates not being able to help it sometimes as much as i hate having to clean it up.
Mental Capacity - my dog is sharp as a tack. always has been. His hearing has been fucked with due to the infection, but his vision remains on a decent par while i do know he doesn't see as well as he used to... once again, neither do I. But he still responds to commands, remembers all his tricks and to a degree still enjoys his audiences when he get the chance to show off. He can still figure out the little puzzles i give him sometimes and well he's 50% border collie, he's supposed to have his wits about him. The workers of the border collie breed.. many of them herd in the field until the day they literally drop dead to the ground.
Happiness- this is the toughest one. My dog doesn't have the interest he used to in running around and playing fetch/frisbee in the backyard, and it's much harder to get him into a playful wrestling match. However the second i enter the room even if he just woke up, his tail springs to life and starts wagging and I can see the same puppy-esque sparkle in his eye. He appears bright eyed and bushy tailed and happy to see me... damn near excited sometimes. So it's hard to judge if he's really happy, because I don't see him when I'm not around, but he's always beyond delighted to see me, whether i've come with food in hand or not.
Response to Treatment - Okay so fair enough. The ear infection which started out simple was treated just as well as the other ones and it got better for awhile, and i thought it was gone, clearly it wasn't and it's returned and hasn't responded to anything yet. And that's all I have to base it on because in the last two years that's been the only new health problem that has arisen.
So from reading the checklist, he doesn't sound like he's in a condition that would necessarily be bad. Here's my worry. I'm leaving in April, I won't see Ty for six months. Or rather, he won't see me for six months. This dog goes insane when i'm gone for a weekend, let alone six months. This August I was gone for two weeks... by week two he was only eating half a bowl of food per meal and by the end of the week he'd nibble at it. He was moping around the garage and apparently snapped at both my parents when they tried to pet him, as well as did something (we don't know what) that scared the shit out of the cat and she didn't use the floor of the garage for about a week after i got back.
This all puts me in a position of not knowing what to do. It's probably impossible on my conscience to have him put down in his current state. But I also can't bear the thought of leaving him without me to get lonely, nervous and scared and crumble to pieces til he dies anyway because he stops eating. It's a huge dilemma. On one hand, he's had a good life and i'm kind of okay with the idea of him not being around much longer since his health even with me around will only hold out for another year or so, but maybe i'm wrong, maybe he's got three more years kicking in him, and then i'm going to leave him for six months and he's going to deteriorate metally so horribly that he'll only last a months or two anyway.
I am at a loss as to what i'm actually going to do, and I really wish i wasn't. I've never wanted to be able to confindently make a decision like this before. I just want the answer to be simple. I want to look at a healthy three year old dog... or a wobbly legged, asthmatic, cancer-ridden animal. Not this dottering inbetween deal that I have in front of me.