Saturday, March 15, 2014


'Thank God we can't tell the future. We'd never get out of bed.”
- Tracy Letts, August Osage County.

Otto is an old dachshund whose story went viral last week. It’s a sad tale, but with a happy ending:

“A 13-year-old Dachshund will be reunited with his owners after the elderly couple left him tied up outside a California animal shelter, with a heartbreaking note attached saying they were too sick and poor to cover the dog's medical expenses.

The dog, named Otto, was found outside of the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter near Los Angeles with a hand-written note asking that he be put to sleep because his owners could not afford to care for him, Yahoo News reported.

The note reads, "Our dog is 13 1/2 years old he is sick starting yesterday with bloody stools, vomiting," according to the website. "Had a skin disease for a few years. We are both seniors, sick with no money. We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep."

Workers at the shelter reportedly notified Leave No Paws Behind, Inc., a foster-based rescue operation that specializes in seniors. Yahoo News reported that when Otto was later examined by a veterinarian, it was determined that his condition could be treated and that he likely had more years in which to live.
The rescue group reached out to the dog's owners -- after it was clear the Dachshund had been well taken care of -- to reunite the pooch with the couple.”

I was glad to hear that Otto was rescued, treated and will return to his elderly owners. Sounds like he might even outlive them. Otto dodged a bullet. (Perhaps quite literally if his owners had been Texans.) But it does beg the question, when is it time to put down an old dog? One of ours, Dillon, is 15 years old and he’s still hanging in there. We also have a 5 year old dog, Boudreaux, who pesters Dillon and keeps him active. But the old dog is reaching the end of the line. Dillon has lost about half of his teeth, does not see well, his hearing is about gone and arthritis has taken a toll on his hips and legs. He wakes us up early (real early) every morning and when we don’t wake up or get up he stumbles off into the bathroom to use the tile floor as he still recalls the scolding he got once upon a time for going on the carpet. We don’t like cleaning up his mess in the bathroom, but what are you going do? Whack old Dillon with a newspaper for being old? Even Boudreaux seems to understand that his old friend and mentor can’t help it.

My wife says we need to get a pup and start breaking him in so Boudreaux won’t be alone when Dillon is gone. I say that I’m not sure I want to start up with another dog. The actuarial tables say that I would most likely outlive another dog. But what happens when Boudreaux is gone. Do we get another pup so the surviving dog doesn’t get lonely in his old age? At some point, the oldest dog becomes the last dog and I’d just as soon not leave one behind when I check out.

Thinking about when should a dog’s life end always brings me to the controversial subject of when should a person’s life end. First off, animals and humans are different. God did not make animals in his own image. So we are special and sacred. Therefore, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to the pro-life/abortion discussion. But, I tend to lean to “the left” when it comes to “end of life” issues. When people say that it’s up to God to decide when a person’s life should come to an end, I am inclined to agree with them. But when they go on to argue that it’s our duty to do everything to keep people alive for as long as possible, I must respectfully disagree. There is that “quality of life” conundrum. Who gets to say when the quality of a person’s life is so bad that it’s time to pull the plug? And there’s the other side of the question, who gets to say when the quality of a person’s life is so bad that you “plug” them into some device in the first place? Can we have it both ways? Can we accept that God says when we die, but we say how long, as well as "how" we live even after all indications are that God has said it’s time to die?

There is no one right answer for every person and every situation. I know that I do not want to be dumped off at the county hospital someday with a note on my ‘jammies saying that I’m too old and sick to take care of anymore. Especially, if like old Otto, I have a few more good years left in me. At this point, I plan on using Dillon’s tile floor standard . As long as I’m not making a mess on the carpet, I say life is worth living.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I was intrigued to see what was on your mind and man can I relate to your latest story. Having to put some long time family dogs down in the past I can sure agree with you. I lost my mom back in October and some of that story reminded me of her also. She had a breathing disorder and at 80 she was done with the struggle and she planned it nearly perfectly and went in her sleep. If we could all be that blessed! You take care my friend.. Perry Parker