Not that I am close to the time to think like that (I hope) but I do believe dignity in that sense means not able to function the way they want to. Not like slowing down, but things as diesel said.. not being able to hold going potty, not being able to eat properly, not being able to be with you.. those kinds of things. Things they know they used to know how to do and just can't anymore.
I have 2 examples, one is actually with Titan, even though he is only 4. A few months ago I had to keep the dog door shut for some work that was being done in my back yard. I had taken him out to potty prior and then shut the door. He apparently ate something at some point, and had diarrhea.. he ended up goingon the floor in the dining room by the window leading to the yard. He completely destroyed the blinds on the back door tryingto get out, then went for the blinds to the only other window leading to the yard and went there when he couldn't get outside. He was so ashamed.. he didn't greet me. He sat next to the back door with his head and ears down. Even after I said "it's ok" and pet him he moped around for the longest time.
The second example would be my neighbors chi's. She had 2. They were both 20 years old. The were both blind and deaf and had no teeth. They had to be kept in the laundry room with news paper. No water could be left out because if they went to drink it, they couldn't always pull their head out. When I watched them for a week I had to hold them above their food so they didn't fall into it, I had to hold them above their water. The male would usually jsut lay down somewhere, but the female would walk in circles on the paper for ever until she hit a wall and then she would start all over again. They peed and pooped all over themselves and I had to clean them up every time I went over. This to me was living without dignity. I was young at the time, so I told my parents to talk with them, but the neighbors didn't want to let them go yet. Selfish and sad, but they did pass within a year from that.
Commander Charly Titan (GSD)-15 Jan 2010