An Empty Dog Bed

Yesterday we put our German Shepherd to sleep.

It was not an easy choice. We went back and forth, my husband and I, daily. Some days, several times. Is it time? Is he suffering? Does he have any quality of life left?

Our poor boy wasn't terribly healthy for most of his life. He struggled with an auto-immune disease which caused him to itch and scratch until his skin was raw. Then the infections would set in. The cycle repeated itself over and over again, visits to the vet, more medications. When we finally put him permanently on prednisone most of the problems seemed to disappear. We knew it was only a temporary fix, but it did buy him at least an extra year of life.

Only recently, we began to ask ourselves what kind of life. Because almost every part of his old body was failing him. He could barely walk. Even just standing up was difficult. His back legs wouldn't do what his brain told them to. His appetite was iffy. His eyesight was dim. His mind was often confused.

Then he refused the chicken neck I offered him. Chicken has always been his favorite thing on earth. Whenever I've removed a chicken from the refrigerator, he has always appeared at my side immediately. Before the wrapper comes off. I never knew how he'd know it was a chicken I was taking out, but he always did. Sixth sense, I guess. Until this week.

When he dropped the chicken neck on the floor, as if he didn't even know it was food, or he no longer had any appetite for it, I knew we had come to the end. If he could no longer enjoy chicken, then there was nothing left for my boy.

Our vet at West Friendship Animal Hospital, Karen Pearson, was extremely kind and compassionate. She gave us plenty of time to say goodbye, to pet him and comfort him as he slowly went to sleep. I can't say it was a pleasant experience, not at all. But it felt to me like a loving experience, even though it was painful for everyone present.

I already miss my beautiful boy. Our home seems empty without his toenails clicking around. Thank God we still have our female Akita.

I don't know how people live without dogs.


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. You did the most compassionate thing for him; but man is it hard. I had to put my cat of 16 years to sleep; and I still think about that experience. I keep reminding myself to remember the healthy times.

  2. So sorry for your loss. The loss of a pet is the loss of a truly unconditional love. My heart feels for you as you grieve the loss of this member of your family.

  3. So very sorry for your loss. It's so hard to let them go.


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