Dora has been sick for a very long time. She has bad allergies, and through these allergies she has developed chronic ear problems. Her ears will swell up red and itch, and because of this she constantly flops her head back and forth, and even rubs her head on the ground and against the house. On two occassions, she's gotten a thing called a hematoma in her ear because she's been shaking her head so hard. That is where a pocket of blood forms and her ear becomes like a small balloon. When that happens--and it happened last year twice within 3 months--I have to get a $200 ear surgery done to correct it. In the end, she still has the ear problems. They're primarily affected by moisture. When it rains, her ears flare up. If we lived in Arizona, she might even be completely healthy.
We have tried three different kinds of prescription ear drops from the vet, a solution from our neighbors, another solution from my friend Ed, rubbing alcohol, baby wipes (to clean the gunk out of her ears), and at least 4 different kinds of prescription pills that she takes by mouth. I have spent a small fortune on this dog between the medicines and the ear surgeries. To try and combat her allergies, for several months last year I fed her non-allergenic dog food that runs $40/bag.
For several months now, I'm thinking that maybe we should put her to sleep. In fact, I said I was going to take her this morning, but I can't make myself do it. What makes this so hard is that her illness isn't like a cancer that's going to kill her anyway. It's like having a child who never gets over a nasty cold. She's not so miserable that she's lost her will to live. She's still very cheerful and loves to play and go for walks. We took her on a big walk yesterday afternoon.
Along with this, I think of all the time, money, and love we've invested in her. We took her to dog training school. She won't bark at other animals when we walk. She will sit and shake. We've got all kinds of toys that we've bought for her. But unfortunately, I can't justifiably continue to pour money into this dog. I really couldn't afford all that I've already had done for her. I don't feel that putting her to sleep is a mercy killing in the true sense of the idea. She isn't going to just die anyway. More than anything, I'm tired of always having a dog that I have to treat like a lab rat. There have been several periods of time where we've been giving her so many medicines that she refused to let me pet her. When she saw me, it meant something was going in her ears, so she would run from me. When she sees anything that resembles a medicine bottle in my hand, she still runs.
So what do I do? Everyone I talk to seems to think that putting her to sleep is the right choice. But then I take her for her "last walk" and see how beautiful and sweet she is, and I just can't do it.
What do you think? Is putting her to sleep the right call? Are any of you willing to take a slightly sick dog?