When is it time?

I was away on vacation last week; and while on vacation there were several things that I saw that will be blogs.  This is the first and most poignant one that was brought on by watching.  I was in my room which was located over a beautiful beach.  One end of the beach had an entrance for the general public and their dogs.  I sat watching looking over the bay as the sun set behind the mountains I noticed a woman and her dog.  The dog was a  very senior Golden Retriever; his age was obvious by his movement and lack there of.   What played out before me was a very sad scene.

The old dog was only able to take two steps at a time before collapsing onto the sand.  The woman who was obviously accustom to his slow pace waited for him to gain enough strength so that he could get to his feet and take a few more steps.  As I watched the old dog I thought about Luke and wondered how he was doing back home with the sitter.  I leaned over the rail so that I could better see the dog as he attempted to get to his feet at his owners coaxing.  Once on his feet he stood and contemplated the pain of taking one more step.  My heart sunk as I watched.  

The dog's body language and struggle told the story.  He was done.  I watched the two a long while; the old dog tried to relieve himself and then collapsed again.  Each time he was brought to his feet again; his body sunk as he stood and contemplated another step.  He had nothing left; but, in all honesty, that was from my vantage point.  Did his owner see something that I could not?  Perhaps.  Or maybe she was not been able to see clearly, due to a deep need.  A need so strong that she could not pull her need and his apart as separate entities.  

When is it time?  It is not an easy answer and no one can tell a canine companion when.  The only way to know is to look at a dog's life, their day to day.   How much joy does a dog have in their daily life?  Does their pain outweigh it all?  Is it too much for any living creature to have to endure?  We must remove ourselves from the equation; put aside our desire to have them with us forever and think of them and only them.  We should not factor into the question of when; because if it were up to us we would always have them by our side.  

I watched as the old dog struggled with each step and felt a pain in my heart for him.  Perhaps a walk on the beach in his early years would have brought much happiness; but now it just brought with it struggle and pain.  As sad as it is to make the final decision we must; each dog lover will make it at least once in their lifetime, often many times over.  I have to say that with each passing of a much loved canine; it has become clearer for me.  When we cannot allow our dogs to move on because we love them too much; we fail them as their guardian and make a decision for us, not them.  When we step out of the picture and look at our dog alone; the clouds move away and we can see much clearer.  

When is it time?  Step away and see clearly.