Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I think I need to put my dog to sleep, but I don't want to.

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?

19 comments:

  1. Mark, you're breaking my heart. Find SOMEONE to take your dog and take care of her. Please. (we've already got two, so, no I can't take your dog :)

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  2. See? I've gone through this dozens of times now. Everyone says, "NO, DON'T DO IT!" but nobody wants to take a sick puppy.

    I had some neighbors down the street that called everyone around, practically making a "Save Dora" coalition. They all don't want me to put her to sleep. Some have even said they might help pay for future ear surgeries. But nobody wants her. If I could get a couple of volunteers from Arizona or New Mexico, I'd be happy to ship her your way!

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  3. Hmm, this is a hard call there Mark...kind of put between a rock and a hard place. Unfortunately, she would have the same problems if I took her since I live a couple of blocks from you guys. If you have to put her to sleep, maybe you could find someone that doesn't have any ties to her to do it while you guys are away, but hopefully we can find someone to take her. Good Luck!

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  4. my "but hopefully we can find someone to take her" comment was meant to be taken as hopefully someone will take her as a pet and you won't have to worry about putting her to sleep. That looked a little confusing when putting it with my previous statement.

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  5. She looks so cute. Reminds of our beloved chocolate we lost over a year ago. How old is she?

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  6. She's about 2 1/2 years old. She's still just getting the puppyness out of her. She's got a great disposition and loves everyone.

    Labs are great pets, and it's been really hard to see her suffer.

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  7. I'd say kill her. It's just a dog.

    But being a good person I think you should try to find someone to give her to. You know what it means, hearing that from me.

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  8. If it's caused by allergies, maybe allergy shots would be better than treating the symptoms of what's caused by the allergies and maybe less expensive. I'll try to find someone to take Dora. We have a client that is into dog agility competitions and knows alot of dog people.

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  9. Try this, it couldn't hurt, something I found on the internet, apparently this is a common problem for labs

    One of the best products I've used with success for gunk in my Labrador ears is called a blue power wash (actually I have seen it called many other things, as it has been on the Internet for ages).

    "Blue Power Ear Treatment"
    INGREDIENTS:
    16 Oz. Isopropyl Alcohol (Witch Hazel)
    4 Tablespoons Boric Acid Powder
    16 Drops Gentian Violet Solution 1%

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  10. If you know anyone who will take her, they're more than welcome. As far as the blue juice: already tried it; didn't work.

    I talked to the vet about allergy shots, and I would have to administer them myself. Dora already runs from me when I have something in my hands. No way I'm going to wrestle her down every day to give her shots.

    I'm convinced it must be some of the stuff in my yard. Common allergies in dogs include grass and oak trees. I have both in my yard.

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  11. Well, Jack has pretty much taken care of the grass and trees in my back yard, but not sure I need another dog. I'll definitely try to find someone. I know it's a tough decision for you, we get just about as attached to pets as any other family member that we like.

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  12. I would think that there are groups of dog lovers in Arizona who would want to help.

    A friend of mine got a dog from freecycle. Could you maybe get an ad on the Phoenix and Tuscon freecycles? Mention she has training and all of that.

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  13. I will do it for ya buddy. JK. But if you need me to I will. Also, if you are wanting to replace her, I have a coworker who is trying to sell nonregistered lab pups for a VERY reasonable price.

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  14. Don't feel bad, Mark! I remember that you got Dora from someone else that couldn't take care of her. You have given her 2 1/2 great years and now you need help taking care of her. People are foster "parents" for animals all the time. I found a lab rescue program in east TN, but you may find one closer. You could also try http://www.craigslist.org/. I know someone at work who said he was able to give away a cat no one would ever want to someone who loved animals! Just keep telling people who love dogs about your dilemma and you should eventually find the help you need.

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  15. Doesn't Bobby Valentine live in Arizona now?

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  16. Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I'm getting a little more hopeful that we might could find someone to take her. I'm always going to be living in a Southern humid climate, but maybe we can find someone in a dryer climate who would take her. It might or might not make a difference, but it couldn't hurt to try. She's a really sweet dog.

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  17. Mark, I was just able to get back online after spring break, and this post is totally breaking my heart! Like everyone else on here, there's no way I can take her...sorry, but my heart goes out to you.

    When you move (congrats on the new job!!!) you might look into a Banfield vet -- the ones in Petsmart stores. They have a wellness plan that you pay about $20 a month for plus an up front fee at the beginning of the year, and then office visits are free, your medical stuff has a discount, and shots are free. When my puppy kept getting sick, the plan really helped bc I could take him in to get fluids without having to pay examine and office visit fees. That would help relieve some costs.

    Also -- I had HORRID allergies when I was in Arkansas, and while a lot of people have bad allergies in Texas, I don't have hardly any issues with them here. I expected to have huge issues still when I moved, but I'm living a pretty allergy-free life (hard to picture for those of you who often saw me all icky at HU!). Maybe the move will do her good...you never know. Please wait for the move to see if it helps. :-)

    Good luck!

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  18. Thanks Jo! I didn't know about that plan. I've been wondering if having her in TN will help with her allergies. I've just spent so much money on her it's getting pretty ridiculous. I am not sure exactly what we'll do. When we get to TN, we may not be in a house that has a fence, and she's not an inside dog. It's tough.

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  19. I totally understand about the spending a lot of money. Sprinkles has giardia when he was really small, and then that lead to him having a lot of stomach issues, so he was at the vet every day for a while there. It took about a month of different treatments and one trip to the expensive ER vet before we got it all sorted out. I was at the point where I was handing them my credit card without looking at the total bc if I did I would scream! The wellness plan really saved my rear there -- I've saved over $1000 already. Glad to be able to pass the word on about it. :-) Hope it all works out.

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