Sometime, the answer is obvious. Like during state wide watering restrictions, when you learn that your neighbor is secretly watering her lawn every night anyway. Or when your teenaged son suddenly has a new iPhone, and a nice policeman is at the door. These are what is commonly known as no-brainers, where the options are only limited by the determination of your conscience.

In situations where the heart overrules the mind, common sense is out the window. This is the situation in which we now find ourselves. We can rationalize the easy way out, and competently convince the experts of the validity of our choices. Suddenly, price is no object, as we continue to agree to every test that is suggested, every possible medication that could at least buy us some quality time until we can man up and remove our emotions from the equation.

Peter is our much loved fourteen year old border collie. He still loves his twice daily walks, and will still chase his frisbee every time it is tossed for him. But this past weekend, he started to exhibit obvious signs of pain. For a dog that normally sleeps 18 out of 24 hours, his agitated panting and constant pacing was worrisome. We already knew that he has had slowly worsening arthritis in his back legs. He was prescribed an NSAID to deal with the inflammation a while ago, and until now, that seemed to be sufficient. Out of desperation, we gave him another half pill, which eventually calmed him down enough to lay down. Clearly a vet appointment was needed, to search out any other options for his problem.

We visited Dr Lawrence yesterday afternoon. She gave Pete the once over, then sat down to discuss his case. When we mentioned that his back legs would occasionally cross, tripping him up, she nodded.

“That is due to proprioception, where he is not fully certain as to where his feet are at any given time. This is what happens when the nerve impulses through the spinal cord are impeded by the degeneration of the spine itself due to age. ”

Okay, so what can be done? Her recommendations were to keep him physically active, to retain his ability to keep moving. In order to deal with his pain, a narcotic was added, so he is now on a small doze of morphine as well as his NSAID. He is now sleeping peacefully on the floor at our feet, having had his evening walk, his dinner, and half a dozen Milk Bones.

She warned us that morphine would possibly increase his appetite, but there wouldn’t be any other drawbacks. I sure hope not! He is still a happy, sociable dog that thoroughly enjoys his daily activities, at least he was until last weekend.

Are we doing the right thing? If this new drug helps him remain comfortable, allowing him to enjoy his life like he has done for fourteen years, I think that we’re okay. The next twenty-four to forty-eight hours will tell.


7 thoughts on “The Right Thing?

  1. I’m so sorry about Peter. I also hope that nature will take it’s course when the time is right for him, and that you don’t have to make the decision to do it yourselves. That would be something so hard to do and wouldn’t wish that on you.


  2. Thanks for the feedback Gail, but honestly nature never wants to step in and take these steps without help. We spent a restless night with his wandering, since apparently the morphine has an incredibly short efficacy. I think that our reticence will be short lived, as watching him struggle can be a motivator in itself!


  3. The attached pic was from Christmas Day last year, when we went to the ocean. His Santa gift was a new ‘squirrel’, his favorite toy. He spent a perfect day at the beach, retrieving his squirrel at every toss. The day was sunny, and a mild 70 degrees. A perfect way to distract ourselves from the blues of being far from loved ones on this day.


  4. He is such a lovely dog! It is so difficult to see our furry family have struggles as the age. I am sure you and Glenn will come to the best decision, albeit a hard one to make undoubtedly! Hugs, Karen & Robert


  5. It’s hard isn’t it? But sometimes nature does let you know when it is absolutely the right time. We spent many months of happy time when Maggie responded so well with her first pain meds…but then…the time came and they weren’t working so well….the decision was made for us. Sending hugs your way!


  6. Thanks much, Bev. I still keep second guessing myself. He hasn’t eaten anything all day. When I got home from my day a few moments ago, and said “Where’s Peter?”, I heard the usual thump thump of his tail. I went over to him, and he gave me a big doggy smile, and thumped his tail again.

    Last night, he didn’t eat his dinner, or his Milk Bones. He did accept a few morsels from our dinner, and cleaned my plate for me as usual.

    I’ll keep you posted……..


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