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My Dog, My Friend, My German Shepherd





Updated: 2014-10-04T23:29:47.558-07:00

 



What's done is done! Quality-of-life? Euthanasia? Murder? Human or Pet? Who the hell knows?

2008-07-01T10:26:45.376-07:00

It's taken me a few days to clear my thoughts.She's gone now - They call it euthanasia - not letting the living thing suffer ( she suffered terribly during the last few days). No matter what the hell they call it, it's the murder of a loved one. Perhaps the ability to legally kill a living, breathing organism -no matter what level of love -if any, we feel - elevates our fragile egos, or infuses some grandiose illusion, or delusion. I accept the fact that her so-called quality-of-life had deteriorated to unabating pain and discomfort.She was my friend, my companion in these, my later years. She understood and trusted me. I understood and trusted her. She depended on me. She knew that I depended upon her. We went everywhere together, shopping, visiting, hiking and walking. She got upset with me if I left her home. We shared our meals and she had fun doing it. When I left her alone, she wouldn't lay down near me (after her walk - of course) for almost 2 hours after I returned home, even if I was eating. But she always forgave me and returned to wherever I was sitting to lay at me feet.I learned as much about character, and forgiveness, loyalty and love, determination and sheer courage, from my shepherd as I have ever learned from another human - with the single exception of my mother.Admittedly, the mutual trust and trusting did not exist from day one. Without question, she had the feral capability, not to mention strength, to attack anything or anyone at any time, and even to revert to that stage if given opportunity, at least at the start of our 'merger.' That facility exists in virtually any pet, especially dog, or cat.But as the relationship grew, she learned what she could and couldn't get away with.The mutual respect and trust evolved from the consistency and repetition week after week and month after month. It wasn't automatic. It was replacing natural canine instincts with the education that to please others and to survive, she had to do, or not do, certain things. It was using her natural pack instincts to serve and co-exist with homo sapiens as the leader.Sound familiar.Perhaps, some day, we humans will really learn from our beloved pets that grudges, and anger, and revenge and retaliation and unprovoked aggression most often accomplish the exact opposite of what was intended.Yes, it's time to move on. Life must go on. We must again learn from our canine companions. We can't live in the past. We must live for today -just as our 4-legged friends do - while we try to plan for tomorrow. But God help the ones who would put aside the wonderful years and memories shared with a dear friend and companion without pausing, reflecting, remembering, appreciating, just because it's time move on to their next challenge. God help those who dismiss the demise with "it's just a dog."Those people, in my mind, have no soul. They are callously incapable of feelings of profound joy, of deep-rooted love and devotion: the same exact emotions needed for human bonding. Yes - we sure can learn from our dear pets.We all must move on; and so shall I. But I will also appreciate and learn from what was.An absolutely wonderful e-book: "How to ROAR: Pet Loss Grief Recovery!" written by Robin Jean Brown, will greatly assist anyone dealing with the death of a beloved pet. I very strongly recommend it.A little later I hope to offer some thoughts on maximizing the joys and love of your life with your pet.Meanwhile, browse the pet links on the right. Perhaps they will assist you now.[...]



Finale, my Faithful Friend

2008-06-21T11:37:58.401-07:00

I did it for me.
I needed her.
I put aside her needs
. If I let the euthanasia proceed, nobody's needs would matter.
Was I selfish? Probably.
Was I doing the right thing for my dog? Probably not!


Did I know that for all intents and purposes the quality of her life had deteriorated to one of mere existence? Yes - that was evident in almost any move she made or tried to make.

She was in pain when we returned home.
She was suffering when we returned home.
She was no longer the wonderful shepherd that shared so much with me.

BUT SHE WAS STILL ALIVE!

On the way home, I bought a 2" thick rib steak.
I broiled it - very rare.

I knew I had to go back to the vet the next day.
I knew it had to be done.
I couldn't really bear watching her deteriorate further.
As objective as I could be under those circumstances, her pain and suffering had escalated too much.
But, damn it, she was still alive.

Hell - if they'd give me a last meal before execution, certainly my dear German Shepherd was entitled to the same consideration.

We went out about 7:00PM that night, while the steak was cooling.
Every step she took was an obvious effort.
She had to sit -even before she relieved herself.
She lay down twice on the way back to the house.
I really didn't know whether it was the advanced cancer or the arthritis.
I had to help her up the 4 stairs to the door.

I sat with her on the floor, again, for about a 1/2 hour.

I gave her the whole steak.
She attacked it with the fervor of a pup; or maybe with the knowledge that it was her last good bone.
She stayed with that rib steak for over 2 hours - I think the meat part was gone in 2 minutes.
I prayed that it took her mind off her great pain for at least that time.

Nevertheless, she had a real lousy night.
She could not get comfortable.
She kept moving, as if to try and get away from the pain.
Maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me.

We returned to the vet the next morning.
This time, I didn't call to tell them I was coming. I just brought her.
Nonetheless, the instant I walked in the door, the receptionist alerted the doc.

I took her for her last walk. It was very difficult for her. Everything and anything had become difficult for her.

The doc (vet) and vet tech came out and took her.
They nodded.
I nodded back.
Not one word was exchanged!
She literally pulled them to her death bed, as if she knew she was about to finally get some relief from the pain.

She didn't look back.
I did not stop them this time.

I stayed outside for at least an hour, just staring, remembering.

FINALE, MY FAITHFUL FRIEND. Rest in peace.



I Can't Watch my Dear Shepherd Die!

2008-06-11T01:50:10.410-07:00

In the car on the way to my friend and companion's final stop, I cried.

As sick as she was, she knew what was happening.

I think she was welcoming it.

She actually licked the back of my head while driving - she hadn't done that in years.

Even in the pain she was in, her fantastic senses actually read my mind. That's what made her such a trusting and trustworthy friend for so many years.

I told the vet tech we were there.
I said we would wait outside.
I told them to give us another half hour.
We walked a little - it was very hard for her.
We sat on the concrete walkway, waiting.

The vet came out with the vet tech to take her. I was really bawling.
My crazy, beloved German Shepherd actually jumped up and with strength she had not shown for over a year started to pull them toward her own death bed.

I loved her too much to watch them give her the sodium pentothal shot.
I watched her pull them into the doorway.


It was just too much for me.

I yelled out at the very top of my lungs: NO ! STOP ! WAIT ! They did.

I told them I couldn't do it.

I told them I'd be outside with her for a while.

We sat back down on the grass for almost another hour.

The vet tech came back out 3 times. The last time, I said not today.

I took her back home, in tears.



Just a few hours to Euthanasia

2008-06-07T23:53:50.969-07:00

I made the call to the vet. It's now a matter of hours.

I sat outside, on the ground, with my arm around her, gently stroking her still beautiful coat. She lay absolutely still. Fortunately, she didn't show much discomfort for those couple of hours.

Whenever I looked in her eyes I saw that she knew; she knew all that was happeniing, and what would happen - what had to happen. She knew she was dying.

PLEASE, PLEASE folks, take care of your dog. Yes - you must be firm and you must discipline it, but be kind and gentle and patient. They may not be human, but they have senses that we cannot even imagine. My Shepherd has sensed the concern and worry from me. Any dog would -really.

The patience and kindness you put into teaching and discipline for your dog will give you years of wonderful pleasure -friendship - companionship.
Even now, as I contemplate her impending death, I hope you folks will consider what may help make life with your dog a little better. It will be worth it.

On the right of this weblog I list some excellent sites that will help you and your dog, even if not a shepherd.

I hope you'll use them.

Believe me your dog is worth it.



I've Got to Kill My Friend

2008-06-04T05:15:57.638-07:00

The time is very near. My loyal and trusty - and trusting - friend and companion for so many years is suffering, a lot;
She can't get comfortable, her appetite is diminishing;
medicine isn't really helping;
she's trying to go off in a corner, as if she just wanted to get away and hide;
I really believe she knows how sick she is.
As much as she has always loved the cold and snow, my dear shepherd has always absolutely hated the rain. She layed down in the rain, as if she just didn't care any more.

No matter how I look at at, I've got to kill my friend.

They say it's the right thing to do for the animal.
They say it's the humane thing to do for your pet.
They say it's our responsibility to relieve their suffering when our pet's 'quality-of-life' has almost totally disappeared.

Damn, that dog is like my child. I'd rather be euthanized myself than do it to her.

But I can no longer bear to see her suffer.
I love her too much.
It'll be very soon.



'Quality of Life' - a Cruel Gauge for a Beloved Dog

2008-05-31T00:59:41.302-07:00

The measure of the 'quality of life' for someone or something (like a dear, dear pet)is virtually impossible.

There is no question that my by beloved and trusted friend and companion -my German shepherd - is suffering right now. The discomfort she's in has grown in the last couple of days.

Her behavior is changing. She seems to race to everything - her food, her bed, her leash, her walk. She appears to be experiencing increased pain from the cancer.
Her movement has become more labored. She now sits almost immediately upon relieving herself.

Her arthritis has seriously hampered her from climbing the four steps back into the house. She has fallen twice.

She now prefers not to come back in the house but rather to lay down in the shade.
I do not know how to be sure of what is happening or what I must do.

It's entirely possible - right now - that I am not properly reciprocating the love and devotion back to her, that she has given me all these years.

I do not like my options. I don't like her options. I don't like the finality.

The damn veterinarians are virtually unanimous on the subject:

our resposibility to our pets is to not let them suffer needlessly.

I need her alive. Her pain and discomfort have really increased.

In my head I know it's time.

My heart is using only 4-letter words.



My Loyal and Trusted Friend - my Shepherd

2008-05-26T20:39:34.999-07:00

Yes, she's ill. No, she can't do the things she used to do.

Yes, Doctor, veterinarion, her quality-of-life has diminished. No, Dr, I don't think, I don't want to think it's less than 50%. That's your benchmark, Dr. It's not mine.
My guideline, Dr., is while there's life there's hope.

My bench-mark, Dr., is IS SHE SUFFERING?

Yes, she is hurting - no question.
But she's eating, walking, relieving herself and still comes running to me for her treats.
OK - maybe she is suffering a little. So is every single living creature.
The QUESTION is to WHAT DEGREE?


How the hell do I know? I'm not God.
I'm just another dumb dog lover.



Quality-of-Life, My Shepherd

2008-05-20T22:56:41.705-07:00

My loyal friend and trusted companion, my shepherd, is hurting a little more. I want to believe she'll get better, but that's not very realistic.

I'm trying very hard to put a percentage number on her 'quality-of-life'. Over 50%? Under 50%?

She's been eating and drinking well? No difficulty in relieving herself.

She's showing me increased discomfort - hard for her to find a comfortable position, keeps asking me to go out - not for a walk but just so she 'can keep an eye on the neighbors and neighborhood'. I oblige her of course. I put her out and watch her closely. She's now comfortable. She's not fidgeting. She's relaxed.
I can't tell if she's in pain, or not. I'm satisfied for the moment. I still have her.
I don't know if I'm doing the right thing , but I do know that even though I need her I will not let her suffer.



My Beloved Shepherd has Repeat Performance

2008-05-16T17:00:28.192-07:00

I'm repeating an entry of about a week ago because the exact same thing happened.

I took my dear dog back to the vet for another 'unscheduled' visit.
I really wanted to determine if the vet could tell me, or even tell herself, how much, or what degree of pain the dog is in.My beloved German shepherd has advanced cancer; besides the serious arthritis. She has been on pain medication and steroids for the last few weeks. That was my coming home present when I went to a family function some weeks back, and got her home from the kennel.

The examination was thorough, the Doctor, at my request, had her assistant (a veterinarian technician or vet tech) take the dog for a little walk around the grounds to get an idea of her 'quality-of-life', and determine if the earlier prognosis of about 6 good months was on track.
Understanding that illness in human or animal can take a turn for the worse at any moment, I asked both vet tech and doctor (who have had hundreds of such cases) just

"Right now, from your examination and your hands-on observation, is this dog suffering, has her quality-of-life so deteriorated, that we must consider euthanasia"
The answer was a categorical no.

Tomorrow is another day. I'll keep doing all I can.



She's my Dog, My Friend, My Companion

2008-05-11T23:45:55.458-07:00

My dog, my true friend, my loyal companion, my German shepherd still fights on.

She didn't show much pain or discomfort, today. I hope I'm being objective. I hope that the reason I don't see too much pain or discomfort is not because I don't want to see it.

She's eating very well. And of course - what goes in, goes around, comes out after a while. So we continue on our more frequent, slow and steady walks. We don't walk too far. She rests after a few hundred yards.
She did spot a deer and jumped right up and almost tore my arm off when she leaped to chase after it. That was good to see. But she did settle right down, and we continued our short excursion.
It's good to walk with her.
She's not as vigorous as she was but I think she's got a hell of a lot of life left in her.
I'll miss her like crazy when she's gone.
She's my dog, my true friend, my loyal companion, my German shepherd.



Quality Time Together, Me + My Shepherd

2008-05-10T06:59:25.846-07:00

Having decided to spend as much time with my beloved shepherd as possible, and, of course, to make her last months (I hope she has that much time) and weeks as comfortable as I can, I've been walking her quite frequently.
Actually the steroids have made her bladder hyper-active so I always carry a bottle of water and small water-bowl. She has been drinking more than usual. We walk slowly, taking our time, going over and over again, some much travelled ground.
A dog is a dog. They follow their noses. (Yes - that's where that cliche came from.) They sniff and they hunt. Shepherds are pretty good at it. When she gets tired and sits, so do I, for as long as she needs to rest before continuing.
She feels better when we're out on one of our trails. How do I know? During the rest period, she repeatedly licks my hand and face.
That's quality time together with my dog.



Courageous Shepherd Fights On

2008-05-08T21:31:49.036-07:00

I took my dear dog back to the vet for an 'unscheduled' visit. I needed the re-assurance.

I really wanted to determine if the vet could tell me, or even tell herself, how much, or what degree of pain the dog is in.

My beloved German shepherd has advanced cancer; besides the serious arthritis. She has been on pain medication and steroids for the last few weeks.
That was my coming home present when I went to a family function some weeks back, and got her home from the kennel.

The examination was thorough, the Doctor, at my request, had her assistant (a veterinarian technician or vet tech) take the dog for a little walk around the grounds to get an idea of her 'quality-of-life', and determine if the earlier prognosis of about 6 good months was on track.

Understanding that illness in human or animal can take a turn for the worse at any moment, I asked both vet tech and doctor (who have had hundreds of such cases) just one question:

"Right now, from your examination and your hands-on observation, is this dog suffering, has her quality-of-life so deteriorated, that we must consider euthanasia"

The answer was a categorical no. Tomorrow is another day.



Pick your Head Up - Keep on Going -Forward

2008-05-06T12:41:37.323-07:00

Still another thing I have learned from my dear German shepherd is to keep your head up, and keep moving - forward. Yes, she has slowed up,considerably, the arthritis also causing her to stop and rest several times during our walks, but once she gets going again, it's full throttle each time.
I usually let her sniff the ground for a while, and I even let her do her zig-zag routine more often than I used to (I had stopped that because I was tripping over her to many times). But as soon as she picks up an interesting scent she's off and pulling with the same old strength she's always had. Perhaps I indulge her more than I should, but it's great for me to see her acting just like any good dog should.
Does she ever look back? Frequently, but isn't that a natural, feral instinct to be sure that any potential game doesn't cross behind her, and that any predator can't attack from the rear?
As I see it, yes - she's in pain from time to time (possibly more-so when her medication has worn off and it's getting near the time for her next dose) but her quality-of-life is a hell of a lot higher on the good scale, than the pain that does beset her.
Boy, I wish I could measure that pain. When she sees another dog, as she did this morning -before she got her first medication for the day - she almost pulled my arm off trying to get to it.
She just picked her head up, and she charged forward.
Euthanasia - no damn way.



Mans' Best Friend

2008-05-04T09:32:46.698-07:00

Yes, a dog is man's best friend for one pretty damn good, all-encompassing reason: and that is that there are probably hundreds of reasons; just a few;
· unwavering loyalty,
· total trust,
· consummate courage,
· forgiveness of your foibles,
· patience,
· perseverance,
· exercise.

As I try to make sure my German Shepherd gets as much exercise as possible, I, too, am getting some much needed physical activity. Whether walking between 1 and 2 miles every day or throwing a frisbee or branch for her to fetch, it helps me as much as her.
Right now, it keeps all her bodily functions running properly, her appetite and her excretions. She's slowed down a lot, but so have I. Her arthritis hampers her somewhat but she still wants to keep on walking, and therefore keep on going.

She's my best friend. I hope I'm hers in return.




Ask Not What Your Dog Can Do For You. Ask What You Can Do For Your Dog.

2008-05-01T02:34:49.914-07:00

Whether you now have a dog, or you are thinking and planning to adopt one, PLEASE do not ask what your dog can do for you. Ask only what you can do for your dog. At one time I might have been reluctant to admit that I didn't put sufficient time into her training as I should have, but now, seeing my dear German Shepherd ill, I realize I could have been a much better and more responsible owner.
I thought I spent a considerable amount of time in her training, i.e. -stay, sit, down, heel, etc. We took minimum half-mile walks at least three times every day. Early on I taught her how to be gentle and submissive to my granddaughter, and to this day the shepherd goes to her to lick her face and be petted in return - as sick a dog as she is.
But I did not persevere and show sufficient patience in so many other areas. I could have taught her not to charge any other animal she saw - if I devoted the time. I could have taught her not to run after any deer she saw, disappearing for well over an hour on at least two occasions.
My point is -whatever breed or mixture of breeds your dog is - take the time - show the patience - persevere, with love and kindness and repetition, with what you want your pet to do. I assure you will be rewarded at least ten-fold for your efforts.
Even with my deficiencies in the time I devoted to her training, I am getting back so much more in the love, friendship, companionship and loyalty she gives me all day long, every day, week and month.
May it happen to you!



Dog owner training and care

2008-04-28T13:44:36.893-07:00

Almost every dog owner would like a 'how-to' lesson on some aspect the training and care of their loved one(s).
Most pet owners have a pretty good idea of what to expect from their 4-legged friends and companions, and of what to do and how to do it for them. But there is almost always some thing you would either like your dog to do, or to stop doing.
Whatever it might be, you'll probably definitively learn how to do it, or get a much better understanding of what's necessary from this wonderful package.(please click)
The improved training and care will most likely help the bond between you grow even more.



Not just a Dog, she's my Friend, my German Shepherd

2008-04-27T07:44:57.765-07:00

A good dog, with a little effort, will be the most trusted and valued of friends.
I learn as much about character, and forgiveness, and determination and sheer courage, from my shepherd as I have ever learned from another human - with the single exception of my mother.

We learn about perseverance and forgiveness, about trust, patience and friendship from our parents and teachers in our formative years. We discover determination and courage; and use the others, in our middle years. And when we get a dog we find that if we put a little effort in, that dog will give back to us every one of those attributes, and then some. So it has been with my German Shepherd. She's ill right now and fighting for her life. I'm advised by veterinarians to 'play God' and determine her 'quality of life', i.e. - what can she still do, what can she no longer do, how much pain is she in and how much suffering is she experiencing.
How the hell do I know? She's my friend, my shepherd, and I love her dearly.
I'll do anything I can to help her.



Illness, Death Sentence, Guilt

2008-04-25T10:21:50.519-07:00

Guilt can be a paralyzing problem, its power completely preventing a person from doing not only what he likes, but even what is necessary. The mutual trust, respect, and love are all put to the test. When illness invades either our selves or loved ones, we too frequently start asking ourselves if it's our fault, if we did everything we could to keep them healthy and provide proper care, especially when it's our pet; our pet who indeed never worries about its own health, our companions who only know how to live for that moment.
So when we start to doubt and question ourselves, it can virtually immobilize the person. Our best intentions and efforts can become pure drudgery, requiring Herculean labors to again perform the simplest of them.
So it is with this blog as I try to 'come to grips' with the 'death sentence' of a loved one.
We all deal differently with the impending death of a loved yet we all are effected similarly; and everyone of us feels the pain the same way - only reacting differently.
I'll keep you all posted on the outcome.