Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tough Decision

So Maximus Pratticus has aged suddenly and totally not gracefully. We thought he was about 9 years old when we got him from the Leicester Stray Dog Sanctuary; and when some do-gooder took him from our car park just before Xmas that year, obviously thinking he was a stray in spite of him looking well-fed, shiny-coated, healthy, cared for, and being on a private car park, fortunately he ended up here. Perhaps he just has a stray dog face and mien. Since I'd registered him here, they called us and we got him back. The RSPCA thought he was about 13, which makes him over 15 years old now - a venerable age for any dog, let alone a stray with unknown history.

At the beginning of summer, he had a bout of kennel cough (apparently very common this year) which took a few months to clear, a flea infestation from who knows where, and a swollen abdomen that the vet thought was probably a cancer. His cough has come back, and his abdomen has swollen further; he can't walk very far, he can't manage the stairs anymore, he's uncomfortable (but not in pain) and has no quality of life anymore - he can't do any of the things he loves.

So DH and I had the Conversation, and Maximus is booked for his final trip to the vet on Saturday while the kids are at dancing. Next was to decide what to tell the kids. DH was leaning towards not saying anything. I felt differently. I know how I would feel (and would have felt at their age) if I went out somewhere and upon my return my dog had disappeared permanently, and that my parents had colluded in the deception.

The kids already know that Maxie is not well, so when I told them that he was going to Doggie Heaven on Saturday, it was not a huge shock to them. They were upset, but we focussed entirely on the fact that Max will be much happier as Doggie Heaven is just the place for him - the sun always shines, the grass is green, it is always warm, he can piddle on limitless trees, he can poop anywhere and everywhere he wants, there will be good things to chase, and he will be healthy again.

Maximus has been a brilliant first dog for the children - gentle, sweet-tempered and tolerant (totally opposite to me). We persevered through his separation anxiety (although we got through a lot of bleach) and even his aggression towards other dogs faded completely, once he felt settled and secure with us. His only downside was that he never played; he loved to run, a graceful loping hound gait, but wouldn't play - he thought anything raised or thrown was at him, not for him. And, whatever had happened to him before, we know that he has had the best love and care in his time with us.

So I drew some cards about this, and my question was: 'Is it time to euthanize Max ?'
The 10 of Pentacles fell out of the deck while I was shuffling. The 2 of Wands was the card I drew, and the 3 of Pentacles was at the base of the deck.

The 10 shows me a life completed, what was there to be given has been given; the 2 of wands shows me someone ready to move on, a new horizon; the 3 of Pentacles shows me we were right to discuss it openly and clearly with the children.

Maximus Pratticus when he was healthy

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