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This is a serious query; I can't really talk about it with most people because they don't understand the depth of my feelings for my beloved Timsah. [Sort of like me not understanding how they feel about their kids, I guess! :)] It's long and emotional, for which I beg pardon in advance.

Anyway, my girl dog is 13 1/2 and that's old for her size. She's wobbly on her pegs and falls down occasionally, has severe arthritis in her hips (which is controlled by drugs, so that she can walk, albeit her legs are like clubs!), can't control her bowels well and poops in the house at least once a day, middle-range deaf, and apparently has a tumor on the aorta outside of her heart (according to the vet) or some kind of progressive heart failure (according to my friend the doctor)-which has led to infrequent, very scary, minor seizures. Sounds bad, doesn't it?

On the other hand, she eats well, takes tiny 1/2 block walks, is not blind, gets into bed with Mommy (me) every night still, has enough energy every few days to wrestle with her "brother" Bennie for a few minutes, barks at all the people passing by from the front porch--still protecting me!, manages to keep the front yard squirrel free when she's out, has lovely naps in the sun every day, and is now basically spoiled rotten and allowed to do everything she wasn't allowed to do before, like eat her treats in my bed.

Although I've finally accepted that she is going to die (emphasis on the "is"), and might not make it through this summer, her quality of life is still very good. The vet wanted to do open heart surgery, which I believe is ridiculous at 13 1/2. The anesthesia alone could kill her. I will put her down if it becomes necessary, when her quality of life is diminished to the extent that she is suffering and it can not be relieved. It will destroy me, but I will do it.

I brought her home at 6 weeks, small enough to fit into my cupped hands, flea-infested and full of worms. She grew into a wonderful (revisionist history alert!), healthy dog. I can't imagine my life, or Ben's life, without her. So I've started talking to rescue groups and animal shelters, thinking about getting another dog. Not a replacement, mind you, but another individual to love.

I'm sure that some of you out there have dealt with the loss of your greatly loved pet. What did you do? I don't think I should bring home another dog while Timsah is alive; it might challenge her for alpha position or hurt her trying to play or disturb her routine and lead to her decline. But if I wait until she dies, I don't think I'll be able to face another dog for a very long time. I'm trying to do the right thing for all of us--including Ben, who is frantic when Timsah is gone now and he's left alone.

Thanks if you read all the way through this long epistle. I'd appreciate hearing from others who have gone through this.

who has had 13 1/2 mostly wonderful years with Timsah
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