Thursday, September 10, 2015

And then there's Murphy.

How do you decide when you are keeping a pet alive for your sake instead of his? And did I just call Murphy a "pet" - when did I start seeing him as a pet, instead of my smart, bossy, full of life and personality four-legged roommate? I'm forced to admit that Murphy isn't the Bossy Little Dog anymore. He has minutes of awareness each day. I'm pretty confident that he's not in pain, but he's also not enjoying life lately. He's just existing.

These few days off have given me a chance to watch Murphy's day. It's almost entirely spent sleeping. He does get up maybe twice during the day to walk to the kitchen for a drink of water, pausing to take an oblivious pee on the floor, and then it's back to bed. I had been softening his familiar dry food with warm water or warm broth to make it gummable. He stopped eating that, so I picked up a can of prescription food. He eats it willingly, but I have to hand feed him tiny bites. (Sophie says it's fabulous, though it gives her gas.)

I hand fed him several bites of the canned food tonight. He is deeply asleep in his little bed again. I'm honestly hoping that one morning he just won't wake up, and I won't have to make any hard decisions. But I'm starting to question my judgment, and wondering what is the right thing to do.

Of course I'll write this and tomorrow he'll pop up alert and demanding, at least for ten or fifteen minutes, and I'll feel like shit for even thinking maybe I'm not doing him any favors by nursing him and hand feeding him. I just don't know. He still has those bursts of "Gimme Mah Teddy Grahams!" and when he does, he is a fair approximation of his bossy old self.

I keep thinking that he'll send me a clear signal when he's had enough of being a blind, deaf, toothless old dog. I just question whether I'll recognize the signal. I'm so used to how he is now, it sometimes takes an observation from someone who doesn't see him every day to make me realize how he really is.

It's wimpy and cowardly, but I'm hoping he'll make this decision for me, so I don't have to. But there's a fresh box of Teddy Grahams in the kitchen.


ellen kirkendall said...

I'm sorry. It's just the hardest decision.

Anonymous said...

Wimpy and cowardly? Perish the thought. I have over many years and many dogs. known just TWO (2) that went quietly in their sleep. Sad though it is to find the dear creature has departed with out a 'word', it is the very best you could wish for a life long friend.

Ace in the last months was very similar - with the exception of the messes - even when he could barely stagger, those long spindly Italian legs are a real hazard when the poor old hound is obviously dizzy, he would get out of bed and steer erratically, but stubbornly, for the door - I would catch up with him, speak to him, and gently scoop him up and carry him out. The advantage of being retired.

Congratulations on the new job! Fan-Bloody-Tactic news.

Gae, in Callala Bay

Anonymous said...

Having read your comments about what you have to deal with cleaning up after Murphy, and having been through years of the same with my old beagle Thunder, I think you are on the right track. So long as he is not in pain and is still able to enjoy his food (and move around) on his own, he probably doesn't care that he is old, blind and deaf. As long as he has his sense of smell, he will know you are there.

I hope you get some more good days with him soon, and good luck on your new job!

Brenda said...

When the time comes, you will know. I have only had Yorkies, and bless their pointed little heads, I really believe that all they want is to be with you, and they are happy to do that no matter how they feel. When I had to put my Teddie down, my vet also helped me decide---it's not that he made the decision, but he wasn't attached to her so it was easier for him to look at her condition and be totally objective about it. He had been her vet from the time she was a tiny puppy, so he knew both of us---I don't think my tears were easy for him to take.

Hannah broke off a toenail this morning, so we had to make an expen$ive trip to the emergency vet. What a mess---blood everywhere. They gave me some pain meds and antibiotics for her, so she's been sleeping all day. And she has a huge wad of gauze with a red covering on her foot---very sympathy-provoking. She will be 14 1/2 next month.