AlexS, sorry to hear about your dog, but glad to know that he is doing better. I think the decision of what to do in that situation is a personal one. In some cases, the animal will tell you, but in others -- as Speed Racer said -- they won't tell you. In my case, after several weeks of not knowing exactly what was wrong and trying everything to fix it, my horse decided for himself that it was time to go. I certainly wasn't ready to let him go and I never thought in my wildest dreams that he was so ill that he would die in his sleep. He had been standing, walking and eating mere hours before his death. Although it's hard to reconcile in my heart and mind, I know he did what was best for us both. He let go of his life so I didn't have to make the decision to take it from him, but I know that I would have done anything, spent anything, gone anywhere to make him better. I thought he was strong enough. If I had an animals that I didn't think was in pain and was strong and had good, HEALTHY years in front of him, then I would give them the surgery. If I thought the surgery would compromise already fragile health, extend his pain, or only give him days of pain free life, then I suppose I would do what was necessary to end his pain. Whenever I am faced with an unbelievably painful decision, I take this tattered poem out of my wallet and read it:
A Dog’s Plea
Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, for although I should lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will quickly teach me the things you would have me learn.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footsteps falls upon my waiting ear.
Please take me inside when it is cold and wet, for I am a domesticated animal, no longer accustomed to bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth. Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst.
Feed me clean food that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.
And, my friend, when I am very old, and I no longer enjoy good health, hearing and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I am not having any fun. Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this earth knowing with the last breath I draw that my fate was always safest in your hands.