I had many fun posts planned, recipes to share, great places to tell you about ,but not today. Yesterday we had to make the tough decision to have our beautiful little Westie put to sleep. Lucy has been a member of our family for 16 years, since she was 3 months old. She was tenacious and full of life as terriers are known to be and as stubborn as any creature that God ever put on this earth!
We first noticed that something was wrong last summer. She had shown some signs of arthritis in the past year but had otherwise been a healthy and happy dog. Last summer I began to notice that she seemed confused and fearful at times which was shocking since Lucy had always been fearless. She seemed hesitant to go down even a few steps. At first I thought it was due to discomfort from her arthritis but she was on Rimadyl which seemed to keep her pretty comfortable.
As time went on it became clear that she was losing her vision and stairs became a difficulty because she couldn’t see them. I became her”chair lift”, carrying her up and down the stairs. Other problems began surfacing that I attributed to her loss of vision. She would startle easily when anyone approached her and no longer wanted to be pet or touched. Combing her became impossible and she had to be sedated in order tobe groomed. It was about this time that our vet suggested that she might be exhibiting signs of canine dementia. Older dogs can develop dementia just like humans do.
Life as we knew it with our strong little girl was changing.She began to sleep almost all day and then pace the floors at night.When she was awake she would often wander aimlessly and began to snap at anyone who tried to pet her or touch her in any way. It broke my heart to realize that she no longer knew us. At the suggestion of my vet I put her on a supplement called Neutricks that has helped many dogs suffering with cognitive decline. Unfortunately after three months we did not see any improvement and our vet said that if it was going to help it probably would have by now.
We struggled with the decision of what to do. While we recognized that she no longer had the quality of life that she once enjoyed she didn’t seem to be suffering either. So we continued to try to keep her as comfortable as possible, giving her supplements and medicine regularly,clean soft blankets in her bed and fresh carrot sticks and apple slices for treats. Her appetite was always great.
Yesterday I had scheduled an appointment for Lucy to be groomed. Although I had given her the prescribed sedative before her appointment she was still visibly agitated on the way to be groomed. Fortunately our vets office has a groomer in the same office. When we arrived and I went to lift her out of the car she gave a loud yelp. I brought her in and asked if the vet could check her out before she saw the groomer because the yelp sounded like she was in pain and I didn’t want her to be groomed if that was the case. The vet checked her but she didn’t appear to be in obvious pain however she was really worked up. She was so fearful that in her thrashing about she bit her own tongue and began to bleed. The vet commented that she noticed a huge decline in her since she saw her in October.
That’s when it hit me, she isn’t going to get better, she’s going to keep getting worse. We have just been prolonging the inevitable.I spoke with my husband and we decided that it was time to do the merciful thing and put her to sleep. With both of us by her side she was given the shot that put her to sleep and end her suffering It is the hardest decision we have ever had to make but for her sake it was the right one. I haven’t stopped crying since and I know it’s going to take us all some time to deal with our grief. Pets are a part of the family and Lucy had been a part of our family for 16 years. We will always miss her but we know that she has crossed over the rainbow bridge and is now free.