TOUGH DECISIONS 
ARE NEVER EASY


     As faithful readers of this column are aware, there has always been a shining star, a character that surfaces from time to time and hopefully brings entertainment to all who read about her exploits.
     I'm talking, of course, about our almost 17 year old pug, Lucy. And this is the last column I'll ever write about her. 
     No, she's not dead. I'M JUST HOPING SHE WILL BE SOON!!! 
     I'm well aware that's a terrible thing to say. But before I get crucified, let me explain. 99% of the people who have come into contact with her in the last few weeks have had the same thoughts. 
    Unfortunately, the 1% who don't think that way includes my wife, who is hanging on until the last possible second, perhaps hoping for a miraculous recovery from the old age ailments that make Lucy a shadow of her former self. 
    "You're a murderer," she quietly whispered as Lucy sat contentedly on her lap at the breakfast table the other morning. "Look at this beautiful face. How could you want to end her life?" 
    I did indeed look. Her eyes were filmy, and she was blind. The beautiful black hair around her ears was now gray, and she was deaf. But her tongue still drooped out of her mouth, still too big to fit inside, and she looked as peaceful as ever. Maybe not beautiful, but peaceful. 
    I was secretly happy to see my wife hanging on. It bodes well for me in my old age. I was always concerned a couple of coughs and a runny nose and she'd pull the plug on me. But clearly that is not her nature. 
    On the other hand, there comes a time when it's time, and the time has come for Lucy. She's been old for at least four years now, no longer the energetic little black pug that bounded up and down the stairs. She's lost the ability to control her bowels, and her arthritis has reached the point where she can only walk in circles, and sadly falls over after a few steps. 
    But she still likes to eat and drink, and we don't think she's in any severe pain. She cries out in the middle of the night, waking us up, but we think it's more out of loneliness, because she calms down after we pet her and make her comfortable in her bed. 
    My wife took her to the vet a few weeks ago, and she has no discernable terminal disease. They gave Lucy an increased dose of steroids for her arthritis (she's been on them for years, meaning she'll probably never get into the Pug Hall of Fame) and sent her on her way.
     It's just so sad to watch. She sleeps 19 hours a day, curled up in her bed. She recognizes no one, and is long past wagging her tail. My wife dutifully squeezes eye drops into her filmy eyes each morning, and puts the steroid pills in her food. Then Lucy eats her breakfast and goes back to sleep for the day. 
    It's sad, but there's one thing to remember: SHE'S ALMOST 110 YEARS OLD IN HUMAN YEARS!!! She's had a great life, surrounded by a loving family and a woman who has taken immaculate care of her for almost 17 years of her dog life. 
    She's been a very lucky dog, and we've been very lucky to have had her as part of our life. AND NOW IT'S TIME TO GO!!! 
    "I'm not a murderer," I finally responded. "I just think her quality of life has deteriorated to the point where saying goodbye is the best thing to do."
     My wife glanced suspiciously at me. "For Lucy or for you?" 
    Ahhh, that was indeed the million dollar question. Was I being selfish, simply because I was tired of cleaning up her mess and waking up in the middle of the night to soothe her like a newborn baby? But I had a response ready.
    "Are you hesitating to put her down because of Lucy, or because of you?"
     We did a stare down. And the answer came almost simultaneously, and then we were back at square one.
    "Both"

 

 

 

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