In my adult life I have had dogs, two I wasn`t able to keep due to circumstances out of my control at the time, and four I have had till their old age took them.
I grew up with a dog, I loved her, she was my friend. I told her all my woes, chatted to her, lay on her when I was tired and sobbed my heart out when she was ill, suffering and had to be put down. The timing was as I left home to study across the country aged 17.
Aged 21, I got a six week old Pup, she had her own `suitcase` as she came away to study with me by the sea. We walked miles on the beach, rain or shine and she`d snub me if I was drunk, which always made me smile. She slept on my bed, and had her own mind. Not the best trained dog as I didn`t really have a clue, but I loved her, she was my friend. We sofa surfed together and she was an old Lady when she passed away in my kitchen aged fourteen. Like many dog owners, I have kept the belongings that still keep her close to me and a marble headstone.
There`s been a couple of neighbours that have lost their dogs recently, one through old age, another through over kindness. Both owners devastated by their loss, their dogs a loved member of their family.
One owner, an elderly man. His dog had been on medication for a long time, the dog clearly unwell. People quietly talking about him `doing the right thing` and not letting the dog suffer. Yes, he should have, long ago, but sad to see a grown man cry when the day actually came and the vet told him the dog had decided he`d had enough.
The second owner loved her dog as a child substitute after being unable to carry her babies. This dog loved her and she him, but to the detriment of his health. Dishing up the same meals as she and her Husband had, but in smaller portions. The dog was obese and on the wrong diet, he struggled to breath at his biggest and couldn`t jump up like other dogs, and had the sweetest temperament.. Despite vets warnings and other people, she just couldn`t bare to deprive him and imagined he was `hungry.` Even in his last days and he was off his food she was hand feeding him chicken and steak, simply because she loved him.
I had a friend years ago, her old dog had Cancer, he had been her companion before marriage and children, a reminder of her youth. She loved him. He became unwell with cancer, his face became disfigured and he was prescribed medication to ease his pain as she couldn`t bare to part with him. He eventually past while she was out and as he slept on her bed. It`s easy to pass judgement and say she should have `done the right thing by him` sooner, but love is never that easy.
I had three dogs at one time. One id only had four years, but he was such a faithful, loving old free spirit with a sad history that I loved him instantly when I met him. I felt sad when he was diagnosed with prostrate and anal cancer, (He`d not been castrated) I wanted him to have one last Christmas with my Son and I, and I made a big thing of getting him a doggy stocking etc. He did well over that period but went down hill not long after and I still question whether I should have done the right thing by him sooner. He was nineteen, a wonderful age for a beautiful spirit.
My Second dog had been on family holidays with us, she suffered terrible seperation anxiety but I loved her loving ways, such a gentle soul. She had had previous homes, but not sure how many as she had been found wandering the streets and taken to the Dogs Trust, and then put in the paper `Free to a good home` by the couple they homed her with, when I took her in. I then contacted the `Dogs Trust` and they allowed me to keep her, she was then about 2/3yrs. In her old age she had three mini strokes, on the third I had her put down as she had become confused and disorientated. I changed Vets though after the way she was put down. She was a big dog, held down while she fought to get away and off the high table. To this day I wish Id just shouted `stop` and took her home, as she was so frightened in her last moments and I carry that guilt. She was fifteen.
The last of my three is sixteen this year, her hearing and eyesight are now selective or bad. (depending on her mood, lol.) She`ll keep going as long as she still tries to the steal the cats food, wolfs down her own and has her `mad moments` in the evening when she races round in play. She`s a character, but no longer enjoys social gatherings, so she chooses to hide away. When she stops enjoying life, I will `do the right thing,` though it`s never the easiest choice.
For every dog I have, it is teamwork, they give me companionship, joy, laughter and tears and in turn I try to give them a wonderful life where they only know kindness and love.