April 22, 2009 My Dog Thunder and Letting Go

I just arrived home from a business trip to Chicago. My dog Thunder is a Tatra, Polish Mountain Sheepdog. He is loyal friend and we have been through a lot together. The typical age of dogs from his breed pass away is 11-12 years. Thunder is 11 1/2 years and he is having trouble. I was convinced to have him undergo surgery on his leg to attempt to repair torn ligaments by a vet at the Loomis Basin Vet Clinic. The surgery failed and he has been failing since then. He is dying. There are times when he cries and while being a guardian of my yard in the past he has not left the house since his surgery. He shows signs of anxiety and pain. I am medicating him with pain and anti-anxiety meds. I contemplate when to let him go. It is a profound general topic for humans. When do we let go of a partner in marriage? When do we let go of a friend? When do we let go of a dream? At this point I can ask questions but lack answers. I do know with many choices, there is no ability to undo putting down a great friend like Thunder who has provided unconditional love and simply wanted time. I feel the pain in some ways knowing that he suffers. Despite his pain and anxiety he is still loving and seems to enjoy nothing other than time with me and other family members. There is no instruction manual for letting go of a family pet or a relationship along with other such decisions. There does seem to be a slow process like following a pathway with various turning points, some that lead to points of information, others that are dead ends. Right now I enjoy the silent moments I am about to have with my decade long friend. I leave this with the lingering question of what signs are present when it is time?

One thought on “April 22, 2009 My Dog Thunder and Letting Go

  1. Steve

    Dr. Ebert, I am a longtime friend of Brents (we went to RHS together) and it is strange that I came across your blog at this time. I am going through Exactly what you talk about in this entry. My boy Harley has been sick with Lymphomia for a little over a year now. He is a 12 1/2 year old Pitbull who is the most loving, gentle and sweet dog you could ever meet. He was given “3 to 4 weeks” over a year ago and up until recently has been doing pretty good. I am in agony everyday not knowing when “it’s time” to let him go. He still loves nothing more than to lay with my wife, daughter and myself, or to go “cruising” in the car with us. I know he is in pain and his pain meds do little anymore. I feel so selfish for keeping him with us and am waiting for him to give me the sign that it’s time to go (or has he given it to me and I’m just ignoring it, God I hope not).

    I am so sorry for your loss of Thunder. Reading about Thunder and your struggle with the decision has helped tremendously. So many people don’t understand it. “it’s just a dog, you can get another” is what I’ve actually been told. Hes not just a dog! He’s family, he’s our protector, our friend and My Boy and this is the hardest thing I’ve had to face (and there’s been some tough stuff to face) in my 39 years. Thank you for writing about Thunder Dr. Ebert, it really helps. And thank you for letting me ramble today.

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