Monday, August 9, 2010

Beach Read

We're home from the beach and everyone is getting settled back into "normal" life.  While I was vacationing, I managed to get through one book and I thought I would share it with you all.

I read Merle's Door:Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote.  It's the story of Ted Kerasote and his dog, Merle, whom he found wandering the Utah desert as a 10 month old puppy.  Merle lived to the ripe old age of 14 and Ted tells the story of how he took a different approach to training and living with this dog.  The book cites a lot of scientific studies and then refers back to the author's experiences that either prove or disprove the results of the study.

There were things I agreed with and others I didn't.  One of the passages I really liked dealt with the book Active Years for Your Aging Dog by Dr. Bernard S. Hershorn, DVM.  In it he suggests 6 questions that dog owners ask themselves when considering euthanizing a dog.

1)  Is the condition prolonged, recurring or getting worse?
2)  Is the condition no longer responding to therapy?
3)  Is your dog in pain or otherwise physically suffering?
4)  Is it no longer possible to alleviate that pain or suffering?
5)  If your dog should recover, is he likely to be chronically ill, an invalid, or unable to care for himself as a healthy dog?
6)  If your dog recovers, is he likely no longer able to enjoy life, or will he have severe personality changes?

If the answers to all 6 questions are yes, then the dog should be euthanized.  If the answers to questions 3 and 4 are no, then maybe the dog should be allowed to pass naturally.  However, if that is the case then you need to ask yourself 3 more questions.

1)  Can you provide the necessary care?
2)  Will such care so interfere with your own life as to create serious problems with you or your family?
3)  Will the cost involved become unbearably expensive?

Your answers to those questions may mean it is better to let your friend go than prolong his or her life.

As someone with senior dogs and a senior cat, I spend some time thinking about what's going to happen in the years to come. I fervently hope that Sam, Ginny and Grace pass peacefully in their sleep but having this list of questions to ask myself both now and if I find myself needing to make a decision at some point in the future gives me some peace of mind too.

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