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What would you do?

amber416
January 29th, 2006, 12:07 AM
My family is going through a rough spot with our dogs (family dogs), and I am hoping you guys can give me a little insight from the outside looking in perspective. Growing up, we had (still have) three bichon frises. We have had them since I was 12. The youngest, Abby, was "my dog", as much as any fourteen year old can really have their own dog. She stayed at home with my parents when I moved to college and still lives there now, as I never wanted to try and uproot her from the environment she was used to, and our other two dogs, to make her come live with me. About a month ago Abby suddenly came down with glaucoma in one of her eye's and the vet said her sight in that eye was already gone by the time the eye started to swell. We had it removed, to help her with the pain, since the sight was already gone.

The vet told us then that it was just a matter of time before the glaucoma hit her other eye, too, and she would no doubt go completely blind. Now, i know several people that have blind dogs and they live fine lives, however, my family decided that Abby would be miserable if she were to go completely blind and we talked about putting her down if it came to that. We did not know that it was going to come on so soon, though. She is now starting to lose sight in her other eye and the glaucoma will probably completely take her sight over soon.

Now that it is coming down to it, no one is sure about putting her down. How can you euthanize a dog that is is no real physical pain? Our thoughts behind feeling like we may need to put her down is because first of all, she's tiny. She would costantly be stepped on. My mom runs an in-home daycare center. This was always the big plus for the bichons, as bichons are extremely reliant on their owners...not the type of dog you leave for eight hours every single day. My mom could keep her in a seperate area of the house when the kids are there (because she will no doubt be accidently kicked, stepped on , sat on without her sight, no matter how careful the children try to be), but that would be torture for her. Also, she is already showing signs her failing vision is upsetting her. When she goes outside to go to the bathroom, she sits in one place and barks and cowers...she can't get up on the couch anymore, she misses and falls down....all of these things are so hard to watch her go through.

While we will all have a say in this, my family is all starting to look to me for my opinion on how we should handle this now, as everyone is so torn. I have no idea what to do....on one hand, it makes me sick to even think of putting her down when she is in no physical pain. On the other hand, I can't stand the thought of her having to live that kind of a life. I dont' know how to determine if she's miserable, or miserable enough to warrant taking her life.

What would you do if this was your dog and your situation?

Frenchy
January 29th, 2006, 10:01 AM
Amber416;this is a very touchy subject and I don't think anyone can tell you what to do.I can only tell you this;I would put my pet down ONLY is he/she was in pain and I could not do anything about it or had no more quality of life.Abby doesn't seem to be in pain.You and your family have to decide if she still enjoys her life.It must be very hard for you and I'm afraid I wasn't of any help.But I heard about dogs going blind and still where "ok" with it.As long as they know their surrounding.Other dogs might not be able to get over it.Good luck and I'm very sorry you and your family has to make such a hard decision.

Lucky Rescue
January 29th, 2006, 10:23 AM
I would never kill an otherwise healthy dog for being blind.

Your family is imagining how THEY would feel going blind since sight is our primary sense, but it's a different story for dogs.

Sight is not a major sense for dogs, and most of them don't have good eyesight at the best of times.

Smell and hearing are what make a dog's world and as long as they have those, they'll be fine. Dogs live in the "here and now" and do not mourn the loss of sight or even a leg.

She may seem upset now, because she still has some sight and is seeing shadows and glimmers of things that she cannot recognize. She'll be calmer when her sight is all gone as long as the furniture isn't constantly rearranged.

As for the daycare kiddies, can't she be gated close by to where the kids are, so she can hear and smell them, but not get underfoot?

Of course the decision is yours and other factors may weigh in but this is just my opinion.

What would you do if this was your dog and your situation?

My last dog lost most of his sight when he was old, but I never considered killing him for that alone. He still enjoyed his food, his walks and other things he liked before losing his sight.

We also adopted out a young husky who had both eyes removed, and he's the happiest and most life-loving dog you've ever seen.:)

mastifflover
January 29th, 2006, 10:42 AM
I really feel for you and your family but like Lucky says dogs get along fine without sight. My friends Samoyed went blind at 10 and it took a while but he adapted and there other dog seemed to sense it and helped him. He mastered the stairs and furniture and lived till the ripe old age of 15 very happy. The key is to keep all the furniture in the same spot and do not put thing on the floor that will confuse him as to the floorplan. Your dog will adapt it just takes time.

mummummum
January 29th, 2006, 11:12 AM
My last girl Tai was almost completely blind and deaf in the final years of her sweet life. She was content to lean against me when needed for direction or comfort. She always knew where her food bowl was and the only time the loss of her sight/ hearing was a problem came if I startled her in some way or re-arranged furniture without guiding her - but, that was entirely MY fault. I've seen some folks here in Toronto with small dogs in front-carry knap-sack carrier thingy's - could your Bichon spend part of day in there with your Mom and part of the day in a playpen where she would be safe from toddlers? How about a ramp - easy to build or buy - if getting onto the couch or bed is a fave spot? From what I hear about blind dogs in multi-dog families, the other dogs tend to become guides and protectors to the blind doggie. As Lucky Rescue says, your Bichon may continue to need reassurance for a while but, as you can see she is drawing attention to her need for help by barking she needs to understand that you are there for her (and you DO need to be there!), she will calm down. When I pondered the decision to have Tai euthanized at home I did not make that decision until I was able to answer without a moment's hesitation and with absolute conviction that at the time of her death and forever thereafter I would feel relief for her, not for me. And that takes a great deal of introspection - it's a life you are taking after all. My heart goes out to you and your family.

CyberKitten
January 29th, 2006, 12:38 PM
I am sorry to hear of Abby's and your family situation but I have to admit I see no reason for putting down a dog simply because she is blind. In a dog's world, that makes no sense - actually, many humans who are sight impaired do very well too!! :) I have known many children who have impaired sight and they live wonderful lives.

That said, dogs adjust so much better than humans to any of what we think of as "handicaps" (hate the word but it is all that comes to mind). I know a few so called "blind" kitties and they do very well. Dogs are the same - she will have to adust to her new situation of course, as will your family. Usually, people with sight impaired dogs have their homes designed so the dog knows where everything is - and since smell is such an important sense - perhaps even more than sight - for dogs, they do so well. They cope with it so much better than humans so you have to think about it from her persspective.

It would be heartbreaking to put a dog down just because of that issue. I can't imagine it actually.

I do wish you all well - there are many sites online for pets with disabilities. (you can do a search and if I think of the url I usually go to - can't recall at the moment and it is bookmarked at home and I am at my office)...

Take care and please tell your family to put themselves in Abby's place!

I remembered one site http://www.petswithdisabilities.org/ but there is another one I am thinking of that has a bulletin board - and lots of ideas and ways to help.

And remember the heatwarming story of Aggie, the cat who had no sight but stopped a burgler from entering her home and saved the day - she won some kind of award. She jumped on him as he was coming in thru the window.

amber416
January 29th, 2006, 01:35 PM
We are thinking about it from Abby's perspective. Let me make that very clear. When the sight in one of her eyes went she was miserable. She is so unhappy so often. Perhaps it will actually improve for her once she completely loses all of her sight, though, as was pointed out. We certainly could be wrong about all of it, and we have decided that when she loses sight in her other eye we will have the surgery to get the eye removed and we will then give her plenty of time to adjust. We will not gage her happiness or quality of life until then.

Physical pain is an important factor, I agree, but I also do not want to force her to live an unhappy life where the good times are far and few between. Right now she is miserable. Hopefully what you all are saying is true, though, and all she needs is time. We have spoken at length with several vets about this and they have talked to us about cases from both sides. Dogs that went blind that could not adjust to live a happy life and finally were put down and dogs that adjusted fine. I guess it depends on the individual dog. We will let Abby make the decision herself as much as is possible.

Thanks for your insight.

amber416
January 29th, 2006, 01:36 PM
Cyberkitten, thank you very much for that link, i will send it to the rest of my family....it seems to have a lot of good information. :)

Prin
January 29th, 2006, 01:39 PM
To me, it's not about sight at all. If a dog is constantly miserable, then something should be done. But like you said, you have to give her a chance to recover and adapt before assessing her quality of life.

amber416
January 29th, 2006, 01:46 PM
Amber416;this is a very touchy subject and I don't think anyone can tell you what to do.I can only tell you this;I would put my pet down ONLY is he/she was in pain and I could not do anything about it or had no more quality of life.Abby doesn't seem to be in pain.You and your family have to decide if she still enjoys her life.It must be very hard for you and I'm afraid I wasn't of any help.But I heard about dogs going blind and still where "ok" with it.As long as they know their surrounding.Other dogs might not be able to get over it.Good luck and I'm very sorry you and your family has to make such a hard decision.

Frenchy, thank you very much for your kind words. I really appreciate it...this has been a very difficult time for everyone, especially Abby. It probably was not the smartest idea i've ever had to post it to a public message board and actually solicit judgement, but i've just felt so lost seeing her so unhappy. I think I posted this knowing i was going to hear what i wanted...that there is no way she needs to be put down. Unfortunately that's not making me feel any better, which is mainly what i was looking for, i think. Darn. Thank you again :)

Frenchy
January 29th, 2006, 02:38 PM
I think it's a good thing posting question like these,the answers we get in return,good or bad,always helps/informs us of the possibility.It does not ease the pain but you can get lots of support from everybody here.Keep us inform and again,good luck.