As our dog ages, we often become more attached and caring towards him or her, especially as they need us more in face of physical limitations. A deep sadness descends on the household when we become increasing the aware that the end is near.
Here’s a touching story that illustrates the experience of attachment to older dogs and being there for them in the final days.
Shirley Zinder’s story touches the hearts of all dog lovers:
It’s been a rough few months with a great deal of loss.
I remember in January and February sitting with the dogs, one evening after work, and knowing that four of them were likely not going to be around much longer. Three of the four were past ten with a variety of age related issues.
Tyra was the youngest at only about 6 but Great Danes have one of the shortest life spans of any breed, and she suffered from wobblers disease and other serious issues common to the breed.
The first to go was our dear old German shepherd Dillon, who we took in with another dog, Molly, when their home burned in the Valley fires. Dillon was old and frail when he came to us. He was in liver failure, heartworm positive, and had advanced hip dysplasia. He had 5 good months with us before his issues took a toll and we had to say good bye.
Exactly one week later, 13 year old blind pit bull Patty had declined to the point where we couldn’t keep her comfortable, and our hearts broke again. Patty came to us at age eleven as part of a felony cruelty case and we had 2 ½ wonderful years with her. Patty was perfection in dog form. She had a gentleness, presence and wisdom I had rarely seen even with 30 plus years of working with dogs.
Shirley lost her dogs and continues:
The pain is still sharp and raw and the tears are quick to spill, but that is the price of love. The greater the love, the greater the pain. And dogs are so worth it. – so incredibly amazingly worth it.
I could have easily spared myself the agony of loss by just not taking them in. But how much richer my life was by knowing them. How sweet was the time I spent with them. And not only did they bring such precious love and joy to my life but what would have happened to them had I not taken them?
Certainly, there are worse things than a humane end in the arms of caring shelter staff, but how much better to be embraced by someone who loves you deeply and fully. Every dog deserves to take that last breath in the arms of someone who loves them so much that the tears flow but the sobs are held back until the last heartbeat, to spare them the worry of seeing your grief.