Today, June 17, 2009, we made the awful decision to put Princess down. She was a chow mix I
adopted three years ago, when she was eleven. She had been given up along with a
Rottweiler that she was tightly bonded to, supposedly because the owners'
landlord reneged on letting them keep dogs. She had a terrible time in the
shelter, quaking all the time in fear, huddled next to her friend. The first
email that came out to us dog fosters was trying to place them together. I had
three dogs at the time (two of my own and another foster) and couldn't imagine
taking on two more largish dogs. Then her friend got sick . . . and died. Then
the email came that Princess had stopped eating and they were afraid she was
going to follow her friend in short order. I talked my husband into it, and we
brought her home.
She was one tense puppy -- it took her six months to lie down with a hip rolled:
she stayed crouched like a lion. She had terrible food aggression and was edgy
about being touched or bumped. I thought she might be a disaster. But no, she
responded to structure and love, and exercise and all those good things. She
remained a very reserved girl; very picky about what liberties she would allow
whom to take. But to my husband and me, she was devoted. Leaving her has always
been a problem because she stresses to the point of not eating. Over the years
we've managed, although it's sometimes been dicey. Certainly no dog has ever
given a more joyful affectionate greeting after an absence of even a few days.
Unfortunately, a tumor, which was diagnosed in January, gave her liver disease
and hypoglycemia. This resulted in occasional bouts of confusion and weakness
(particularly if she goes too long without eating), incontinence, and even a
couple of seisures. Most of all, a frequently ravenous hunger made the food
aggression, which had calmed for several years, reappear in spades. She also
became more aggressive about being handled by anyone but me.
The gutwrenching part of this is that she still had some life in her, but we
have travel we're committed to this summer and I no longer felt comfortable
about the safety of whomever might care for her in our absence. Last week she
jumped my one-year old corgi puppy for no apparent reason and started a four-dog
dog fight as Ginger and Lucky decided to take sides. Fortunately I was right
there and no one was hurt. I don't like to think about what would have happened
if the only one around had been, for example, my 17 year old daughter.
Princess was not an easy dog, but I loved her terribly and I miss her terribly. She had a good last day. I let her into the bed this morning for the first time in months (the incontinence was a problem) and we snuggled and dozed for an hour or so together as had formerly been our morning tradition. Then we took a walk in the drizzle just the two of us -- she's always loved chances to be the only dog. When we came back she got a can of sardines all to herself. Around 11:45 we were at the vet. She went gently, with no stress and no fear, with me and her dad holding her to the last breath.
RIP Princess. We love you.