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I wonder also if dignity means different things to different dogs? For instance, I know many older dogs are completely mortified by having an accident. I posted a while back about Heidi "losing" poop in the house occasionally. When this happened, she would just look at me like "so what, deal with it." I'm not saying it wouldn't be a dignity issue if she gets to where she is lying in it, etc., but a small, firm accident really didn't seem to bother her much. Also, I know some dogs get along amazingly well using a cart, but I think for others it would signify a loss of dignity?
 

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as the owner of a dog that was euthanized due to sudden and irreversible paralysis yes i will say he was ashamed of himself
we assured him it was not his fault but had you been here you could have seen he was very pained and troubled by having what he perceived as accidents in the house
in fact the loss of dignity in that situation was what drove us to euthanize him because it was not a kindness to him to keep him alive
 

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I'm on my first dog, I haven't had to make decisions and you're right, I wasn't there to see your dog. It's possible that they're ashamed of something.

It sounds unbelievable to me for now but so did many things before.


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Since all dogs have different personalities I'm sure dignity has different levels. I've come across dogs that appear truly clueless and I know many dogs that have an excelled intelligence and understanding of their surroundings.
When you look into those eyes sometimes it seems that they are looking into you.
 

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I have had to make the decision to have two dogs (at different times in my life) put to sleep. They were both getting old and seemed to go from there to not there rather quickly. The trigger for me outside of the physical difficulties was the lack of life in there eyes. You can see when the light has left and they are miserable with their own existence. I believe they will let you know when the time is right for them to be allowed to go.
 

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I do believe the dignity comes at different levels for every dog and other animals for that matter. I do also think that some dogs to make the decision that this is the end. When I as young I remember my Sheltie who was very old and having issues, who never went outside on his own anymore, and never was without a human, suddenly asked to go outside by himself and lay under his favorite tree... he passed away within an hour of that moment. We thought it so odd that he was staying out by himself, but IMO he knew that he was going and wanted to find his own place.
 

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I agree w/ My boy Diesel and Kiya dignity and when its time to go is as individual as every dog is.I think its about dignity,the pain they are in and whether they are still finding joy in their life. Daisy was in distress but when they brought her in to say goodbye she drug the tech into the room.Daisy hated the vets office. She always wanted to be w/ us but in those last 24 hours couldnt.

Lucky, being almost 12 years old means I watch him alot. I see him lose his back legs when he's trying to get up or when he's running sometimes and I know I have to make sure he still has fun and feels safe.He also wants to be w/ me no matter what. So I may end up sleeping on our couch for a period of time if his legs continue to fail. The girls I dont know as well as I did Daisy and Lucky but they are people dogs and love walks and car rides.How I will know ? Im not sure but I'll go back to the scale Jean B posted and hope and pray for wisdom.
 

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I guess I don't consider a dog having dignity. Yes, they may feel worried when they potty in the house, and we have to just clean it up, not saying it is ok, not punishing the dog, just taking it as a matter of course. But I do not know that, that would be the deciding factor in when to euthanize.

For me it is a quality of life thing. If the dog is in pain, and is depressed -- does not want to get up, does not want to eat, etc. It is probably time. We can help dogs go to the bridge, so they do not need to suffer through the process of dying.
I wonder also if dignity means different things to different dogs? For instance, I know many older dogs are completely mortified by having an accident. I posted a while back about Heidi "losing" poop in the house occasionally. When this happened, she would just look at me like "so what, deal with it." I'm not saying it wouldn't be a dignity issue if she gets to where she is lying in it, etc., but a small, firm accident really didn't seem to bother her much. Also, I know some dogs get along amazingly well using a cart, but I think for others it would signify a loss of dignity?
I am not convinced that dogs understand the concept of dignity. Going potty in the house due to old age/health issues can certainly upset the humans in the house. Dogs read those upset emotions and react to it. Owners that are sensitive to such events react more strongly and so does the dog (e.g. hiding, hanging head, etc which I think is appeasement behavior and not shame or loss of "dignity").

When my old dog Maddie started having incontinence issues we simply dealt with the cleanup, didn't scold or otherwise react to it. It happened. We cleaned and moved on with our lives. And so did Maddie.

Maddie also used a cart and it bought her another year of quality life. Was she ashamed and feeling less dignified by using a doggie wheelchair? No, I don't think so. She took to it immediately and was really happy having increased mobility. She did feel a little vulnerable being locked into an apparatus but I don't think she was ashamed of it. I know plenty of humans, my mother included, that could not accept a wheelchair due to a loss of dignity. If my mother could have only seen Maddie enjoying her wheelchair perhaps it would have convinced her to accept one herself. But I digress...

Getting old sucks. Someday someone may have to clean up after me and I sure hope that isn't enough to have me put down. As Selzer said, it's a quality of life thing. When Maddie didn't want to do her daily walk anymore and seemed depressed we knew it was time to PTS. When I no longer take joy from life, well then my time will have come.
 

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Yep, I just didn't wNt to say it. But, yeAh, if a dog is hiding because he pottied in the house it's not because he's ashamed, it's because he read your reaction to it. I'm not saying you're beating him for it but you're upset or yu don't like it and he can tell.


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I will have to disagree with not feeling shamed. I get that dogs aren't humans and don't feel emotion quite like we do but I do believe they have some level of understanding. Yes they feed off our reactions to situations. But what about if there were no reactions? Just liek in Mister C's example, if Titan went in the house it was clear he couldn't get outside for some reason. I don't react. I have never reacted. So why the low drooping head or shameful slink? Or how about the upset gestures when they can't go outside and play? or any of those things? There has to be some level of emotion in there.

I mean.. does the dog sit there and go "I've lost my dignity guys, this is it." No but do they resppond when they can't do something they have done for so long and suddenly can't. I am not saying that they should be put down for this, at all, just that for some this is more shameful than other things. Mister C, your dog responded great to a wheel chair, others may not at all. I truly believe it's about each individual dog. jsut as with any other temperament, you can't lump them all together.

and lalachka, you keep saying you humanize your dog in this post and as displayed in others, like the one about spending time with your dogs because you feel bad for them. How do you not think they feel anything when they get older in regards to feeling shameful for not being able to do something (genuine question, not meant with attitude :) ).
 

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I just don't believe they feel shame. I believe they can feel things, I believe that he likes to play, he likes to run, to go out, do certain things. I also believe he dislikes some things.

So yeah, I can feel bad when I think I haven't taken him out long enough because I feel like he needs to spend time with me and outside for his mental health.

I just don't believe he can feel dignified, shameful, guilty and stuff like that.


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I'm on my first dog, I haven't had to make decisions and you're right, I wasn't there to see your dog. It's possible that they're ashamed of something.

It sounds unbelievable to me for now but so did many things before.


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No offense but if your on your first dog I think you will come to learn what some of us have learned over the years.
 

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I will have to disagree with not feeling shamed. I get that dogs aren't humans and don't feel emotion quite like we do but I do believe they have some level of understanding. Yes they feed off our reactions to situations. But what about if there were no reactions? Just liek in Mister C's example, if Titan went in the house it was clear he couldn't get outside for some reason. I don't react. I have never reacted. So why the low drooping head or shameful slink? Or how about the upset gestures when they can't go outside and play? or any of those things? There has to be some level of emotion in there.

I mean.. does the dog sit there and go "I've lost my dignity guys, this is it." No but do they resppond when they can't do something they have done for so long and suddenly can't. I am not saying that they should be put down for this, at all, just that for some this is more shameful than other things. Mister C, your dog responded great to a wheel chair, others may not at all. I truly believe it's about each individual dog. jsut as with any other temperament, you can't lump them all together.

and lalachka, you keep saying you humanize your dog in this post and as displayed in others, like the one about spending time with your dogs because you feel bad for them. How do you not think they feel anything when they get older in regards to feeling shameful for not being able to do something (genuine question, not meant with attitude :) ).

Here is an interesting article on dog shame/guilt.
Do Dogs Feel Guilty? | The Thoughtful Animal, Scientific American Blog Network

I am not saying dog's don't feel emotion. I think that they do. I am just not so sure that they feel shame/guilt--at least in the same way humans do.

I also agree with you and other posters that dog's are individuals and it can be hard to draw general conclusions.

I was lucky with the wheelchair and Maddie's ready acceptance of it. But she also had a real need and was ready to accept it. She also trusted me absolutely and would do anything I asked of her (e.g. when she was young she had a deep bite wound in her belly that required me to flip her on her back twice a day to clean out the wound).

How do I think they feel when they cannot do something anymore? Sad, depressed, and disappointed come to mind but not a loss of dignity. When Maddie couldn't go down steps anymore to go outside, I helped her down. She would wait for me to lift up her back end and nuzzle me before we went down the 2 steps. I solved that problem for her and she perked up. She came to expect that assistance and showed me some affection for the help. Same with the wheelchair and countless other things that I can think of.

Similar story with my first dog Schmoe who went suddenly blind. She was lost, a bit scared and depressed at first. But she came to accept her blindness very quickly. We couldn't move the furniture and her walk was the exact same path everyday but she handled it with aplomb--and much better than I would do if I went blind.

Interesting subject and I do appreciate the varying viewpoints being expressed here.

All the best,

Michael
 

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This topic hits close to home as I had to let my beloved dog go at only 4 years of age. I made the decision when he stopped doing the things he loved. The whole illness progressed so quickly, I think to be honest I'm still in shock. It was only a cough. A cough that wouldn't go away. I only got 1 week with him after his diagnosis. The night before I made the decision he went outside and did not want to come in. Just picked a spot in the grass and laid there and would not move. When I brought him into the vet, I had to carry him into the exam room. He didn't want to look at me or be near me and this is a dog that would glue himself to my hip if he could. He just stopped acting like the dog he had been for the almost 4 years I had him...

It's all hard, but at least when they are older you get some time to prepare, when something sudden and horrible happens, it turns the world upside down. If you had told me in January I would not still have my Avery, I would have never believed you...
 

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In my opinion, dogs feel every emotion we feel just on a purer (if that is a word? lol) level. I have seen grief, loneliness, fear, anger and yes even shame in my dogs' eyes and displayed in their posture. I believe their reasons for respect vary from ours as well as the motivation for their emotions but I 100% believe they have them and display them.
 

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No offense but if your on your first dog I think you will come to learn what some of us have learned over the years.

That's exactly what I said in the post you quoted.

However, it's also very possible that I'm seeing what you're seeing in your dogs and not interpreting it the way you would.

I've seen him hang his head, I've seen him prance around looking like he's proud of himself. I just realize that I'm assigning words to his behaviors based on what humans feel when they do similar things.


So if I see him hang his head I don't assume he's shameful. If I see him hold his head high I don't assume he's proud.


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Why is hanging their head a sign of shame? Who said that just because we hang our heads when we are sad, embarrassed, whatever - then that's why dogs do it too.

Their body language is different than ours. We show out teeth when we are happy, no one thinks a dog showing their teeth is happy.


I don't know if dogs can feel emotions in the way we do. They might look like they do but you really don't know what goes on inside them. Neither do I.

This conversation can go on for days and no one will know the truth.


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In my opinion, dogs feel every emotion we feel just on a purer (if that is a word? lol) level. I have seen grief, loneliness, fear, anger and yes even shame in my dogs' eyes and displayed in their posture. I believe their reasons for respect vary from ours as well as the motivation for their emotions but I 100% believe they have them and display them.

What's a shameful posture for a dog?


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