I visit here often to look for advice, and have posted once before. I'm here once again, looking for your thoughts. I apologize in advance for the long, rambling post. I'm not the best with explaining myself, so please bear with me.
I'm not sure if we need to be thinking that it's time to put our senior baby down soon or not. Everywhere I turn, people say (or I read) that "I'll know it's time when she tells me", but I really don't know if that's true. I actually did read one article where it said many people actually wait too long (they quoted an average of 6 months too long!) to put their dog down. And although I know our baby best, I'm afraid I may be "too close" to the situation to be objective.
So, here's some background...
Our WGSD/Malamute mix ("Grizzly") will be 14 in 2 months. We rescued her at 2 months old. She's always
been a very active, sassy girl. And when I say "very active", that's putting it mildly!!! Physical activity has been her love her entire life. She has liked mental stimulation a tiny bit each day, but the physical is what she's always been about. Walks, walks, walks...wrestling, running, walks, and more
long walks!!! Understandably, her abilities have lessened quite a bit the last year or so, but we altered things to suit her and keep her quite content and exercised. One activity that really helped her with her slowing down was to drive to a park, and walk a shorter distance, then have a nice sit-down for a while watching the kids play, other dogs walking by, bike riders, etc. After about an hour or so, we'd head home. She still would get several other walks per day, too, in various parks and neighborhoods, for variety of scenery and variety of things to sniff! Very often at home, she also wanted to lie in the front yard for many hours (leashed with me watching her for safety), and watch the neighborhood activity. This has been working wonderfully for the past few years.
Now, she rarely wants to stay at the park for more than a few minutes, and she rarely wants to lie out front, either, even if I'm out with her. She also is having a pretty hard time even getting into the car now. Many times she doesn't want her bedtime walk, either. In addition to this, she needs to be on a restricted diet due to pancreatitis, and the only things she'll eat that she's allowed to eat, she still needs to be coaxed into eating many times. I know this is because she wants more flavorful food, and not because she doesn't feel well. She's just being picky, as she's always been a picky eater. I don't blame her (I would hate that boring food, too), but giving her the flavorful food will also give her a painful tummy, so we need to stick to the bland food. Also, she's mainly refusing her Rimadyl now, and I have to force her to chew a pill once a day. She should have it twice/day, but she seems to be okay physically with once, and since I have to force her to have that these days, I only do it once now. (If I cut it out completely, she does limp way too much, so no Rimadyl is out of the question.) She still gets excited to do some things daily, but it's really for such a short amount of time total, that it's heart-breaking.
She still wags her tail some, and will even do her "excited yell" and "trot" (if you can call it a trot now) over to the door when I get the leash, but even so, sometimes after that, she refuses to actually go outside. Also, I notice her tail is down very often now when she stands, which normally it's curled up over her tooshie. She'll still lay down and "wrestle" with my husband daily, which is really just a lot of loud barking and growling and trying to "get" his hand as he taps her nose or slaps the ground near her or pretends he's going to get her chewybone. But she barks quite vigorously, and does enjoy this with him about once a day. She does sleep a lot, but half the time I think it's from boredom, although she rarely wants to do things now, so it's sort of a catch-22. (We've tried many "mental stimulation" activities...she's just not interested in that either.) Otherwise, she's relatively "healthy", especially for a dog of her age, and still has great potty and poop control. She does struggle to get her back end up most times, and sometimes falls down, but is doing okay with that overall. She has many moles on her body, too, that she often licks and licks. They aren't cancerous, but they just keep popping up on her, and really it's not feasible to keep a cone on her for the rest of her life, so we just have had to basically "accept" that she'll lick them, and try hard to tell her no if she's bothering one too much. Lastly, she does NOT ever want to be alone any more, which is out of character for her, too. It's only been the last year and half, approximately, that she's just so upset
when we leave her.
How do I really gauge "quality of life" in our situation? If she's "happy and engaged" for say two hours total, split up throughout the day, is that "quality"...or am I being blind to the fact that maybe it's time to let her go? I've seen people before, where I see their dog and just can tell the dog is miserable, but the parent/owner won't put them down. I know our baby isn't "miserable"...but is just a little happiness each day enough "quality"? Is she probably "fine" still, and this is more my
issue than hers? It just really breaks my heart to see that she can't do, or doesn't want to do, all of things that she's always wanted/loved to do. We don't want to keep her here just "for us" (me and my hubby...no kids), but we also don't want to put her down too soon.