The first week of You've Been Schooled did not exactly start with a bang, but it also did not start with a fizzle! There's a decided pet theme, though. There was this question that I answered on Monday. And this week, I received another pet-related question. This one is quite a bit different. I'm almost glad it was my only question because it let me put some extra thought into something that can be a very difficult thing to have to face.

(And be sure to click here if you have a question about life that you need some help answering!)

Read on dear students!

My wife and I have an older dog that she brought into the marriage. He is now 14 yrs old and his health is going down hill. He was recently diagnosed with diabetes. A symptom of the diabetes is extreme thirst which results in extreme urination.

His peeing has gotten really bad. We have gated off the carpeted areas in the house and every day wake up to copious amounts of pee on the kitchen floor. He will often pee right after being taken out or when we are not looking. He is being treated with insulin however this is not helping with the pee. We have never had a problem with this dog until now.

My wife works from home, thankfully, so she has to spend a considerable part of her day cleaning this mess up. She calls me frustrated, angry, and miserable on a daily basis. Her work is suffering due to this problem as well. I have tried to gently ask her how she felt about euthanasia, but it is an extremely delicate subject for her because she has had him for so long. I'm not certain euthanasia is the right choice yet, but I think it should be considered. I can tell the dog is not himself, and my wife is suffering as well.

Am I wrong to consider having the dog put down? How long do you go like this before it's ok? When does a reasonable pet owner say they've had enough?

When getting a pet, a few contracts are entered into. One is a contract of responsibility. The human agrees to provide the best possible quality of life for the animal. This includes food, shelter, medical care, and other things like proper social interactions and being included in the family unit as is appropriate for the animal type. There's also a darker contract. The one that states the human understands the animal is a ticking time bomb of misery and there will come a day when the human will have to make a decision that is for the best of the animal and not for the best of the human.

Thankfully, there are people out there qualified to help make those decisions. Does the vet have advice on how to deal with the peeing situation or maybe the vet needs to change the insulin dosage? If the vet can't help, maybe an animal behaviorist can or a dog trainer can. The dog may be miserable because he's having a bad time of it and just needs some adjustments here and there to have a better time of it. Dogs can get depressed, worried, have anxiety...all those fun things that make humans feel less than fresh. And if you and your wife are on edge all the time as well, he's going to pick up on that. He may not make the correlation that he's the cause, but he does know his pack is unsettled and he's old and ill. That'd give anyone a case of the anxiety.

Once a dog starts to go downhill, they don't usually come back from that. It's up to the humans to decide how far they want to let their dog get and to try to stay out of a place of denial. You don't want to let the dog get so bad that the last memories of him involve him trying to rip someone's face off or sitting in puddles of his own waste because he just can't function any longer.


Your uphill battle with your wife will probably involve making sure she knows you're not just trying to kill her dog because he's being inconvenient. Do the footwork (or phone/internet work) and get all the information you can from all of the professionals you can so that you can make an informed decision about the best quality of life (or death) you can give the dog. It would be better if you could involve your wife in this process but don't make it look like you're trying to gather enough evidence to prove her dog needs to die. She needs to come to terms with the fact that both of you must do what is best for the dog and leave the sentimentality out of it. Period. If it does seem like you're going to have to do the merciful thing, be there for your wife through it all—don't leave her feeling like she's doing this alone and don't minimize her grief. If she needs a therapist or to do some sort of burial ceremony just support her through it. And don't go rushing into getting another dog to fill the void. That may not end up fair to the new dog or to you.