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Old 02-22-2013, 04:32 AM
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Artie is 16 1/2. For his first ten years, he was neglected and abused, and then was very slowly healed by a wonderful animal control officer. I adopted him and he slowly has become less frightened of new people, although he still hates sudden movements, noises, etc.
Because of his many eye infections in the bad old days, he has to get eye drops twice-thrice a day. Recently, he has apparently lost all his eyesight. Now, he was never a ball of fire dog, but now he only stays in one spot on the couch and has to be led to that. He gets down twice a day- to eat and to go out. When he goes out, I have to lead him back in, as he just kind of runs out of gas and stands/slumps in the yard, looking lost. (He used to look alert and sniffing, enjoying the outdoors, and would come back to the house in his own good time). He also no longer comes into my room. He seems afraid of the two steps to the yard- can't tell where they are- and often hurls himself down them to the yard, as he does not want to have accidents. (Has never had one). He still enjoys his food, otherwise, he sleeps in his spot on the couch. He seems to need to hand his head down for easier breathing, and pants if he holds his head up- I think he's got a floppy palate or something.

Because he had such a bad early life, I am loathe to put him down while he's enjoying anything. But he looks so confused and frightened, even though otherwise healthy. If one of the other dogs makes growling or barking sounds, he freezes and the fur on his back goes up- he's afraid of being the target of violence. He is terrified of violence from people or animals and just makes convincing threatening sounds. But he looks terrified.

I have another blind dog- a diabetic Brittany mix- she's about four years younger than him, and seems quite cheerful, even as she bangs into things. She loves to cuddle and wags her tail with all attention.

So I'm asking, has anyone had a situation where the dog is not going to get better, has lost a great deal of ground, but is still basically healthy? I have put other old dogs down when there's organ failure, bleeding out, liver failure. I've never had this kind of fearful but healthy old dog to consider. I guess I've been fine with giving people guidelines for the decision, but am not doing so well with my own process. Thanks.
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:36 AM
Location: Montreal -> CT -> MA -> Montreal -> Ottawa
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I don't know what to tell you. I don't know what you should do. I'll tell you one thing, though -- my vow to *my* Artie: I won't ever put him through anything awful if there's an alternative that I can live with. Case in point: when he was having tummy troubles, the vet said that they could either (a) give him some antibiotics in case it was an infection or (b) do a biopsy to see if it was IBS. A biopsy? What the...??? No. I chose the antibiotics and his stomach issue was resolved, thankfully. I just didn't want Artie to go through anything that would be traumatic for him.

My takeaway from your post is that "confused and frightened" is the main issue here, not the blindness or the constant couch-lying. If it were anyone else, I'd wonder "well, how do you know just how confused and frightened he is?" but it's you. You know your dogs. You know dogs, period. You know.

My only advice to you is to follow your heart. Do what you think is best... for Artie. Listen to your gut.

My Artie carries your Artie's name proudly and sends him a "WOOF!"
I send you hugs.

Last edited by DawnMTL; 02-22-2013 at 06:17 AM.. Reason: infection not virus... duh!
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:47 AM
Location: zone 5
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Ditto what Dawn said. I will say when my aunt had alzheimers, it was her constant fears and anxiety that made me feel the worst for her. When she progressed to the point where she didn't even know what was going on around her, I felt she was actually better off. I do believe you will know when the fear has taken over his life to the point where it's not worth living any more. I'm very sorry that you and Artie have to go through this.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:38 AM
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If you haven't already, maybe you should have the vet examine him and take radiographs to see why he holds his head down and then pants when he puts his head up. This is what we saw with our boy toward the end. In fact, much of what you describe sounds all too familiar.

Bless you for taking special needs dogs and giving them such great care and a good home. I know Artie had a very bad first ten years, but it's the last years of his life that matter -- the years he has had with you. It's understandable that you want to give him as many good days as you can, but you can only do so much for him, and you have done SO much already. I wish you peace as you make this decision.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:43 AM
Location: Texas
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This dog has had a lot to adjust to in his life.
Now he's adjusting to not only being afraid, but being even more defenseless.
I'd have a hard time putting him down if he was still healthy.
But you may have to modify his environment.

Btw, I know several people who have dogs with poor eyesight (or none) who describe the dogs not liking to be out of their comfort zone. I can totally understand that.
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Old 02-22-2013, 07:18 AM
Location: Beautiful Niagara Falls ON.
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I had a standard schnauzer that I loved to pieces. She was just a wonderful dog. At age 15 she got to the point where she was very much like Artie. She was not happy any longer and she was not going to get better. I decided that it was not fair for me to keep her in this pitiful condition any longer and so I had her put to sleep. I think I did the right thing but my wife still to this day thinks we should have let her live a little longer.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:21 AM
Location: Canada
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We had an Irish setter go blind on us at ten. She'd been happy and active up until she couldn't see anything but shadows. When we walked towards her, she was terrified. Even when we spoke to her, she cowered down in stark fear that we were going to step on her. She panicked if she bumped into things.

The day she ran full tilt into a wheelbarrow outside, ran up the three steps to our back door and then fell down backwards gave us our decision to put her down. It was so hard watching our otherwise perfectly heathy dearly loved dog being put down. She just wasn't taking blindness easily at all.

Some dogs who are mild mannered and calm can live many more happy years and adapt to blindness with no problems. Every situation~dog is different.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:55 AM
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The decision is hard no matter what. I have had to do it 4 times. I am not sure if you have been to the vet, but it's possible that he could be in pain. Indicators such as not getting up a lot and not wanting to do stairs could be arthritis or joint pain. It can get quite bad in older dogs. I have seen dogs rebound very quickly once on a good pain regimen. You can also try liquid Vitamin E for the confusion. You have to use just the right dose, so ask your vet. I have used Rx drugs in addition to natural remedies to control pain (ie. Traumeel, Arthrisoothe Gold, etc). If he isn't on anything, you may want to try a couple natural remedies before going the Rx route.

Good luck with whatever decision you make.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:49 PM
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Regarding stairs- there are only two broad steps (like a boardwalk) to the yard and it seems that he can't see them as different from the deck- same material. He can jump up on the couch, and my bedroom is on the first floor, as is the living room where he stays on the couch. I don't think he's having pain- I think he's afraid to proceed. His poor nose was ripped up from banging into something in the yard. The vet doesn't want to tell me what to do, but it's clear he doesn't think there is anything *to* do to make his life better. The environment of the living room hasn't changed, especially because my blind Brittany mix, Leah (four years younger than Artie, and very cheerful) needs things to stay the same, even as I often do lead her to a sleeping area.
Thanks to all for your kind input. I am going to keep Artie until about the beginning of May (unless something else gets worse) and then pick a day that I can get off and bid him farewell. I want him to enjoy the yard in the spring (currently closed off due to snow) and I don't want to board him when I take a trip at the beginning of June, so that's the timing.
As many times as I've done this, each time is different and doesn't get any easier. Thanks to all. I know many of you are there or have been there.
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Old 02-22-2013, 03:44 PM
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That's a good plan, letting him enjoy the nice spring weather. Maybe he will be able to roll on his back in the grass. All dogs love that, but old doggies love it the most.
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