For me it's not the dignity - it's the quality of life and the dog feeling fear or pain. Or possibly dying in the night by himself and going through the last moments without comfort or love. No emoticons can express the degree of grief and sadness I feel in thinking back to having to make a decision on behalf of my last two. The dogs prior to them were already dying when the decision had to be made to ease their passing. And I had one dog die in his sleep at the vet post surgery. Making the decision is both the kindest and most loving thing you can do.... and it's also the worst.I saw a couple of family dogs allowed to linger too long until I felt they had lost their dignity and I swore I would NEVER do that to any dog of mine.
I was listening to Dr. Laura on the radio the other day and she had somebody call in trying to get a handle on her own emotions vs knowing what had to be done with an old dog. Dr. Laura shared how she came to make the same decision regarding her dog. There was something she said which immediately had me tearing me up and feeling that same pain and recognition - she described the moment after the vet administered the shot, the feeling of panic and horror that goes right through you where you desperately want to take it back.
I went through that with both my last two dogs.