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Home / Articles / Columnists / Dog World with Tina /  When It’s Time
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Wednesday, November 6,2013

When It’s Time

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  

There are exceptions to everything, but the rule of thumb is, the larger the dog, the less the lifespan.


Boasting a lengthy 15 to 20 years is the rare Xoloitzcuintle of Mexico; while the Irish Wolfhound has a meager six to eight years. Weight is more of an issue than height. If a Golden Retriever or Labrador passes his/her tenth birthday, they are considered lucky.

When referring to senior pets or those facing terminal illness, I am often asked, “How will I know when it’s time?” Our first rescued Aussie, Rudy, is approaching 13 years old. He’s stiff in the morning. He doesn’t go to the park any more, but he enjoys a slow walk around the block. He’s less tolerant of those in his space, and makes a grumbly monster noise. He sleeps very deeply and sometimes “lays an egg” (a nice way of saying he’s losing bowel control). On the bright side, he is alert, hears, sees and eats well.

A small dog in his twilight years doesn’t see or hear any more. Daily, he walks in small circles, always to the left, for hours. He is exhausted. He will “lay an egg” and walk in it, and track it all over. Scared, he barely eats. He can’t understand how or why his body has become a prison.

Medication managed the pain of a dog battling cancer. Her family could not face the next step, “because she’s only eight”, but her eyes said she was ready. Miraculously, she got herself up on the bed, gently laid her head on her beloved owner’s chest and drifted away. This is rare for a pet to pass so peacefully at home.

It’s one of the most difficult decisions you will face as a pet parent. Your pet depends on YOU to be the leader, at all times. You MUST focus on your pet’s needs (not human selfishness). These questions should help:

Does your pet enjoy his/ her regular activities? This can range from walking to watching birds outside and socializing with other pets in the home/neighborhood.

Is your pet´S appetite/ sleep schedule normal? Has she/he noticeably lost or gained weight?

Does your pet have control over bodily functions? Most pets like to be kept clean. Soiling themselves can cause stress, rashes, and/or infections.

Does your pet still enjoy and look forward to regular human interaction?

Does your pet recognize and respond to family members?

Is your pet able to function without difficulty or pain?

Since “the eyes are the windows to the soul”, what do they say? My heart dog spoke volumes with his sparkling blue eyes. I still vividly recall him telling me, “Mom, enough! I’m so tired. Trust me, everything will be OK”.

He was right; even though he is not physically here any more. Show your pet today matters. Take him/her on a longer walk (without your phone), hug/pet them without distraction. Tomorrow’s just a promise, today is all we have.


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