In Real Simple’s July 2015 issue. J.I. Baker wrote an essay called “Unfixable”. (I couldn’t find an online link, sorry). In it he describes his experience with an “unfixable” dog. In the essay I was very much those people with their “helpful” suggestions and ideas that if you “just did this one thing” your dog would be fine.
I related to this story because we owned a dog who was “unfixable” for four years. We adopted him as a senior dog after having fostered him for a month (during which he showed no medical issues). Over the four years, his issues included: skin allergies, chronic diarrhea, severe anxiety, and eventually degenerative myelopathy (DM). We took him to four different vets and a dog trainer to try and get a handle on all of his conditions. And sometimes the medicines helped, for a while, and then something else would happen. Eventually we decided to euthanize him when the DM was too apparent and he had too much trouble walking.
I was heartbroken and numb when we decided to put him to sleep. Even now I agonize whether we still made the right decision. Logically, I know it was right. He wasn’t able to walk more than a few steps without his back legs giving out on walks, forcing him to sit and pant. And the walking problem was only getting worse. Combined with chronic diarrhea, we had a huge mess on our hands.
Being a caregiver to him was stressful and physically exhausting. Keeping him clean was a full-time job. He weighed over 60 lbs. and lifting him into the bathtub was proving difficult. His persistent scratching at night made it impossible to sleep.
This essay gave me some peace because I struggle with the belief that we could have “fixed” our dog. Or that we could have done more. But I know, logically, that we did so much for him. But I miss him, and wish we had more time with him. He was such a loyal companion, who gave so much love and comfort. I miss him so much.