I know some people are annoyed at the prevalence of dog pictures and videos on social media, and I get it. I used to be one of them.
But now that I have a dog and truly understand what the fuss is all about, I think dog pictures and videos are among the highest best uses of the internet. Dogs make the world a better, bearable place for too many people to ever discount their place in the world.
Anyway, I’m marking National Dog Day with Otto the Rescue Pittie, my special needs guy whose only trick is that he soaks up hugs, kisses and cuddles in whatever amounts you are willing to give him.
The question comes from a retired women of modest means who wants to know how much she should ethically spend on her dog who may be nearing the end of his life.
The answer was nuanced, but leans toward the “animals are not people” end of things:
What you owe your dog is a life worth living by the standards that are appropriate to a canine existence, attentive to what matters to a dog. So you shouldn’t organize treatments that will simply extend a period of suffering, even if you can afford to do so without jeopardizing your own quality of life. Some people, hoping against hope, subject their animals to excruciating courses of radiation and chemotherapy in an effort to buy a few more months of companionship. They ought to do what human beings are capable of doing but often fail to do: reflect on their actions. They should think about whom they’re really helping, about whether this costly form of care amounts to cruelty.
If your dog is entering a final decline, marked by debility and suffering, and, out of concern for his welfare, you choose euthanasia, you will not be letting him down. He has no expectations to disappoint. There are no promises you have made to him. His loss will matter a great deal to you. Don’t make the experience worse by thinking that you have done him wrong.
My dog (Otto, the rescue pittie) is only around eight years old. He seems healthy, but I spend a lot on high-end pet health insurance because I live in fear of him getting sick or injured and me either not having enough money to treat him, or having to go into deep debt to do so.
I’ve even pondered whether, if I am not sure that I will have the money to treat illnesses that accompany old age, I should try to find a good well-to-do family while he is still young who will not have to possibly choose between getting him the best health care or letting him suffer for lack of funds.
But I can’t possibly put him (or me) through that kind of separation. We are both so devoted to one another. And he only eats special food I make for him fresh because I don’t trust commercial pet food suppliers. He will not eat dry or wet dog food.
How could I possibly find anyone who will love him and take care of him the way I do?