Boy do I hate that question. I've had to face it too many times, and I will have to face it many more times. But every, single one of us will have to decide when it's time to let our beloved dog go. So, I thought I'd invite everyone's thoughts and experiences on this, as I'm sure people will find something helpful or comforting in the responses.
Personally, I'm pretty aggressive in deciding when it is time to euthanize a dog. I've second guessed myself so many times -- Did I wait too long? Did I do it too soon? -- that I've just come down on one principle that guides me: I'm not going to let the dog suffer just because I'm not ready to let go. So if there is no prognosis for recovery, I will put the dog down before he starts to suffer. I would much rather err on the side of euthanizing a week too soon than be one minute too late. I want his last day to be a good one, not one spent suffering.
This is Chelsea on her last day.
Chelsea was a marine rescue dog and had saved lives and been in the news. She was almost 15. Chelsea had osteosarcoma from which she would not recover. When her pain meds stopped effectively controlling her pain, we made the choice to euthanize her. On her last day we gave her every good thing on earth that she wanted to eat. And while she had trouble walking, she loved chewing on sticks and branches, so we gave them to her, without worrying about what it might do to her intestines. We let her eat and chew to her heart's content, and we loved on her like mad, and then the vet came over to the house, and we let her go with me holding her and petting her and telling her what a good dog she was.
And we've done the same with every dog since then.
I tell this story because I want to urge others here to tell their story and give their opinions without fear of judgment. Whatever decision we make, it is the right decision so long as it is informed and well-reasoned. Everyone's decision is their own. But we will ALL face this situation, and I think it might be helpful to others looking for comfort or for support for their own decision to read what other people do and think.
So, without judgment, criticism, or concern, please tell me how you deal with this thing we will all have to go through (and which I went through twice within the last six months).