Caring for older or sick dogs

It seems to me to be one of life’s cruelest twists of fate that humans are so long lived and animals that are so devoted to them have such short life spans. Our dogs are our consummate companions. In many ways they embody the best things that humans should aspire to be. Yet we don’t have enough time to spend with them on this earth to learn those valuable lessons.

Due to the different breeds of our dogs and the life spans that imparts on them three of our four dogs are nearing the end of their natural lives in the same time frame. My wife and I have been aware of this impending situation for some time now. Unfortunately it has been sped along as our seven year old female Bernese Mountain Dog was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. The prognosis from our vet is not good. They estimate only two to four months to live.
We also have a seven year old male Bernese Mountain Dog, who is the litter mate of our female and were brought into our home together and a fourteen year old female Siberian Husky mix. Our Husky has times of pure joy where she seems like a puppy but time has clearly taken its toll on her. Our male Bernese Mountain Dog has hip dysplasia that has increasingly robbed him of mobility.
Today I wanted to do something nice with a couple of our dogs so we took our two Bernese Mountain Dogs to the park to just hang out and sit by the pond. This seemed like a nice idea to me. A little time to relax and enjoy each others company. While it was a nice time it also reminded me of how little time we have left with our treasured companions. It was clearly evident that they could not enjoy the trip as they once had due to their physical ailments.
Fortunately though slowing down all of our dogs seem to be happy and in good spirits. They are always ready to play and snuggle. The quality of life they have is of utmost importance. It would be great if they could live longer and stay with us, but that would be selfish. I will not do anything medically that while possibly giving us more time with the dogs will simultaneously compromise their quality of life.
The most challenging thing for me is that we as humans must make these decisions for ourselves on our companion animals behalves. I think every day that only if my dogs could talk and tell me what they want and what they need we could truly make the best care decisions for them. Humans can assist in choosing their treatments and determine what course of action if any they want taken. If only our dogs could help us with this.
If only our sick dogs could say to us “I love you , but its time to let me go.”

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