The Long Goodbye

This week I took Christmas photos of Molly, because I don’t think she is going to make it to Christmas, and I’m not sure she’ll even make it to our Christmas card photos. Senior dogs bring their own set of joys and sorrows, but not much is worse than watching their slow fade away. My Molly girl is in her final days. She is 14 years old and I have had her since she was six months old. She was a ridiculously healthy dog most of her life. I don’t think she even saw my vet other than for vaccines until she was about 12 years old and started getting urinary tract infections. She was my problem-free dog. Healthy as a horse.

Baby Molly
Molly circa 2003

Like most seniors, she started to slow down. Started having aches and pains. But a few months ago she was diagnosed with kidney failure. I wrote about that diagnosis and for a short time she did very well, all things considered. But, I now see her on the same trajectory as my grandma’s beagle that passed away at 18. She’s losing use of her back legs. She can’t get up from a laying position, and she can’t “sit” at all.

Senior Australian Shepherd Mix
Even though she still has a good appetite, and she’s not losing weight according to the scale, she looks more and more bony. I am keeping her fairly comfortable with a regular schedule of pain medication. I’m not worrying about the kidneys so much, just keeping her comfortable. And she’s still able to walk on her own, which will be a deciding factor if it comes down to it. Molly has always been a very independent, aloof kind of dog. The opposite of a pug. She comes and gets attention when she wants it, then she’s happy to hang out by herself, even in another room entirely. I know it frustrates her to have to bark and have me assist her any time she wants to get up. If/when she loses the ability to walk at all, I know she would be miserable.

We’re in the worst waiting game, where every day you evaluate if she’s still comfortable enough. Wishing she could tell me, “mom, I’m ready”. Every morning I look over to her and check to make sure she’s breathing. And on one hand, I almost hope that one day she isn’t. So she can pass peacefully at home, without having to make a decision and wonder if you waited too long or did it too soon.

I’ve been through this process before, and I trust my vet team 100%. I know they will help us make the call. But, it never gets easier. Even on the worst day, when I’m frustrated and cleaning up a third or fourth accident of the day, I don’t wish for it to be over yet.