I am disabled and have a Therapy Dog (not Service Dog). I adopted my Golden Retriever from a local shelter in March 2005, when he was 2 yrs. old, so he is 10 1/2 now and I have had him 8 1/2 years.
I had a Care Credit account for vet services but due to economy etc. my bills all are in collections and I only live on social security disability. My dog has had all his shots and meds through the same vet, who does a low-cost clinic monthly. He's current on flea/tick meds, heartworm, etc. He is licensed and even has a chip.
For a few weeks now my dog has been unable to climb up and down stairs without great difficulty. He used to be able to play catch and run, but I knew his hips and legs were slowly getting bad so we've not done much anymore. After our last play session a few weeks ago, he has been unable to move at all without pain and it's gotten way worse. I am moving to a ground floor apt. next month - I have severe back and leg problems too - but it might be too late for my dog. He can hardly walk, and in the last few days he has been peeing where he sits simply because he can't get up to go out.
In the past weeks, usually once I get him moving he could maneuver the stairs down pretty well, although he whines, and he was able to slowly come back up, sometimes with a little help, slowly but I could hear his creaking bones and occasional whining. So I know he has hip, joint, leg problems.
I've had him on Cosequin DS (glucosamine plus other supplements) for about a month. I also add Omega etc. oil to his food. He was eating strictly IAMS but lately I have been giving him rice mixed with chicken or beef with a little dry mixed in because he has a sensitive tummy and the vet agreed he could use the added meat.
He is drinking water and eating fine. But the legs are getting worse, and now he is incontinent too. Tonight he fell off his chair trying to get down to go out, and when his legs buckled, he peed into the carpet. I then saw he had peed on the chair a little too. I haven't let him up there but it's his fave chair so I helped him into it for the night. As I looked around I also noticed a few spots where he must have peed a little before going out but I didn't know. My carpet is new and white, I never smelled anything, but as I searched I found a few suspiciously smelly spots.
So I guess he's been peeing in place for a week or two without me knowing it because it's not been much and I try to take him out as much as I think his legs can take the stairs, usually once right before bed, then first thing in the morning, then 2 or 3 times during the day.
I will call my vet tomorrow, but I have absolutely no money to take him in, or even gas in my old van to get him there. I've had some medical and car repair and tire expenses, so I've had to take out "payday" loans to get by, and can't even afford to go shopping this month. And of course next month the loans are due...
I think it might be best to let him go, since I obviously can't afford his care or treatments or surgeries he might need, and of course this is causing me great guilt. But I realize he is getting older and I know these problems are common for older Goldens.
I am heartbroken. He is my best and only friend, and my three granddaughters adore him. He has been my lifesaver many times. He's proven to me how essential a Therapy Dog can be. I will be lost when he is gone.
And no, there is no one in my family who can help; in these times we are all just hand to mouth, as I know many of you must be too. I just want to know what you think my best move should be, and if putting him down might be the best thing for him, not just an economic "way out" for me. I will not give him up at a shelter. I promised him that when I got him, and I would rather he pass on than be abandoned by me, as he was by that first family who got him as a cute pup then decided he was too much work when he was two - I know this because the shelter gave me the old family's report when I adopted him. It made me angry, and I won't do that to him.
Thank you for your comments. Please be kind. I have fed and cared for my dog many months when I couldn't afford my own food or meds. My animals have always come first. But now I am too sick and old to do this anymore and after my dog passes, I definitely will not be able to get another Therapy Animal. I won't adopt one I already know I won't be able to properly care for. But I wasn't as broke or ill when I got him so please don't judge me for that. I'm already beating myself up for it. And crying. A lot. It boils down to money. If I had some, I simply would take him to my vet. But I don't. But I don't want to make a rash or selfish decision either.
Times like these, it's pretty clear it really is all about money, Sorry but that's true. I have worked since I was 14 years old (I'm almost 62), earned three college degrees, raised three sons alone with no help or assistance, and never dreamed I would end up living this way. It *****, but my concern is to do what is right and best for my Best Friend. And I just want some opinions or suggestions.