Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Good thing he's cute- What do we owe our pets?

I must admit at the very start of this post that I have very mixed feelings about this subject.  While ideally when you get a pet it should be with keeping them for their lifetime in mind.  Keeping them well taken care of , well socialized (I have a thing against dogs who are chained or left in a pen 24/7) and healthy.  Most pets are social animals and need the love and attention from their owners.  Why have a pet if not for companionship?  I could do a whole post on people who neglect their pets but that is not what this post about.

What about those who love their pets and do indeed take care of them, but due to circumstances or a change of circumstances the pet no longer fits in with your life?
I've had to find homes for dogs that my children have owned but due to a move had to give up their dogs.  So far I have been lucky in placing these dogs in good homes.

However I picked up an abandoned dog (not a subject to get me started on) only to find out that all the shelters were full, due to people surrendering their dogs due to the economy. One large no-kill shelter in Atlanta was turning away 80 dogs a day.  I have something of a different problem. I rescued Rascal from a shelter 5 years ago; a healthy older puppy and he has been my companion ever since.He sits at my feet or lays down in the same room as me.  he's well house trained and lets me know when he needs to go out.  He goes in the car with me, loves to go bye-bye (top pic). I take him with me whenever the weather will allow.  He walks well on a leash and I have even taught him to be still so I can stop and take photos.
He has been a real blessing in my life as I am sometimes housebound and he keeps me company.  However he does have expensive recurring medical problems.  He has allergies and because he scratches he gets infections.  At one time he lost most of his hair and his skin was so raw it would oozed blood.  We took him to the vet and spent a small fortune in veterinarian bills.  He did stay healthy for about a year but a couple of months ago it started all over again.  In the last
couple of months his bills are coming up on $1,000.  That does not include the shots he still needs, but has been to sick to get.  As you can see there are times when he really does not feel good, which makes me sad.  Poor baby.  We thought he was all better but a couple of days ago he started itching again and losing his fur.  I really could not afford his bills so far, but starting all over and his bills could swamp me financially.  Personally I could think of a lot of things that would help me for the money I have spent on him.
 Do I owe him another round of bills and his being miserable; especially since the vet says this will probably continue off and on for the rest of his life?  Should I continue to go deeper in debt?   Is it fair to him to have him miserable just so I can enjoy his company?  Do I try to find him another home with someone who can afford his vet bills?  Would that even be possible given the shelter situation?  He is very attached to me so would he even adjust to a new home?  He really is a good dog and has been well trained and socialized.  See how patiently he waits for his food.  I would miss him terribly.  I'm afraid that humanely euthanizing him will be my best option, but how very sad that would make me.  So many questions to consider and are any of the solutions the 'right' one?  Is there even a 'right' answer?  I don't know; all I know is I want to do the best I can.
What do you think we owe our pets; who depend on us for their all?


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I think that when pets cannot live happy, healthy lives in their natural state as animals, we should not force them to lead the artificially maintained life of an invalid. But I know others feel differently and will go to extreme measures to keep their pets as part of their lives. But do those extreme measures spare the animal from suffering, or do they just spare us from suffering the grief of the animal's loss?

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I was in the same dilemma as you are in, ten years ago... My Cairn was 14 and had developed cancer... I still have the bills as a reminder... Not that I haven't paid them off, just a reminder of her... I was with her on that day when a neighbor helped me make the decision to put her down... I will never forget the look on her face when we got to the vet's... The expression was priceless " well its about time you decided"... those words are of course mine but her eyes said it all... she was afraid of the vets when she was well, this trip, she welcomed it... We just owe what our pets do for us... Unconditional love... I think even animals know when it is time...