I had an American Setter for 14 years. I was holidaying / visiting family in Qld, when there was a bit of a bust up, and the then 2 year old dog, had nowhere to go, so l claimed her. She was the best dog l ever knew, and l have had a lot of dogs over journey. l walked her three times a day and after the first month l never needed to put her on a leash. l trained her and she was well behaved and very loving. She was also the best dog l have ever seen with young children / infants, she inspired them to be gentle with her, and she never growled at any of them. l took her everywhere with me, where l went, she went. One of her favourite tricks was to walk up to people talking to each other in the street, and just sort of lean against one of them, until a hand would reach down and start patting her. After a while people would realize they were patting a dog, and then look at each other and ask if it was the other person’s dog. Then l would give her a little whistle and she would trot to catch up with me.
Since l walked her so much she never got fat, and at age 16 she would have weighed almost the same as she had when she was given to me as a two year old. Apart from a white face, she looked like a young dog, and was in much better condition at 14, than dogs half her age. Eventually though, she started to pick up ailments. She got arthritis in her hind legs, which would suddenly give way on her when we were out walking. She also began to develop cataracts, and a heart condition. The final indignity was a loss of bladder control, which meant l could no longer allow her to sleep on my bed. l rigged up a bed for her in the laundry, but when she looked at me l knew that she didn’t understand why she had to be out and on her own. l knew a decision would have to be made soon, and l decided that l wouldn’t not let her suffer, if the time came.
That time came a couple of days after Christmas, when we went for a couple of walks. She got about 100 m. from the house, stopped and looked at me and then trotted off slowly home. l knew then that her time was pretty much up. Every dog loves to go for a walk, but when a dog as active as she had been, no longer wanted to go for a walk, then what else did she have to look forward to?
It was not an easy decision to make, but l stuck by my promise to her and had her put to sleep. l loved her too much to let her suffer.