Friday, January 29, 2010
All Dogs Go To Heaven
Have you ever stopped for a minute and given serious thought to how much, in dollars and cents, your pet is worth to you? My husband and I are mired in just such a sticky moral/ethical dilemma this very moment. I am sure there are plenty of people out there who would spare no expense in order to save a sick pet, and I know they would quickly chastise me for not being one of them. It’s not that I’m completely heartless, though some in my family may disagree. I simply can not justify spending thousands of dollars for surgery on a six year old dog who does nothing more than spend her day lounging under the bed, barking at the wind, and growling at our other dogs for looking at her funny. Our dog’s saving grace right now is that I know there is a little boy living in my house who will be heartbroken to see her go.
We have three dogs, and for me, that is approximately three dogs too many. The irony is that I am the reason they are here. A few years ago, while riding the delusional high from my short-lived stint on Happy Pills, I decided that saving shelter dogs was my new favorite past time. I spent countless hours on Petfinder.com reading sad stories about dogs left abandoned in the Wal-Mart parking lot, litters of puppies with parvo found huddled under dilapidated trailers, and puppy mill rejects saved at the last minute from the gas chamber. I was hooked. I wanted to take them all home, give them expensive doggie treats, and let them romp without a care in my backyard. So, I did just that - three times. I didn’t realize that once I stopped the medication, I would be back to my old self, someone who really doesn’t want three dogs under foot and making a mess in my house. I have to admit that they have all grown on me, and it genuinely saddens me that we are now in this predicament of having to make a life or death decision. After five years, these hapless mutts have become an integral part of our family.
The timing of this doggy healthcare crisis is quite ironic. As I am healing from my own nasty back injury, our smallest dog, Pippy, has succumbed to one herself, yet again. She is a dachshund/Chihuahua mix, and has endured several debilitating back injuries due to her obsessive need to forever be curled up on top of the closest human or dog – any warm body will do. She is needier than Jennifer Aniston. She has jumped and climbed beyond her abilities one too many times, and now the damage is done. There will be no self-healing this time. Only medical intervention will bring her back.
So, what do we do now? She is paralyzed from the “waist” down. She is incontinent and not interested in food. Surgery to correct the injury would empty the ol’ bank account to the tune of $4,000. I keep thinking how I’m certainly glad I wasn’t “done away with” when I was down and out with my own back pain, but then again, I add value in some small way considering that I am gainfully employed, can operate the washing machine, and I cook up a mean batch of lasagna. I hate that I have to play God, but I also hate that I have to look at her in this condition. The sight of her sad face melts even this Ice Queen’s heart. (I can’t believe I admitted that…)
We’ll have to decide her fate soon. It is not fair or humane to let her linger this way. If we have to put her down, I can’t even comprehend the great wailing and gnashing of teeth as we break the news to our kids. Boy, it’s times like this when being the grown-up really sucks.