1224081904Old age comes to every dog, eventually.  At first it may just manifest in a few white hairs, but as time goes by, stiffening joints and ailments tend to come to the fore.  Shibas can maintain great health for years, but I can tell that Shassi is in the twilight of her life.

Here Shassi is with my aunt, who lives with my mother and takes care of Shassi.  We visit often, but keep Tierce away from her, as she has shifted from LOUDLY telling him where to get off to just trembling and looking frightened.  So we keep him and his exuberance away from her and she is much happier.

It is somewhat disturbing to watch Shassi now – she spends most of her time on the couch, but sometimes will pace around in circles or stare at a corner of the room for hours.  She is also not too steady on her feet and this can be a little distressing as I watch her hind end becoming undecided as to whether it’s going to follow her front or not.

My aunt is very good to Shassi – she has taken her to the vet several times to make sure that her health is as good as can be expected for a 15 year old Shiba.  She buys her special low-protein dog food to minimize any strain on her ailing kidneys.  She takes her out for walks, ensuring that Shassi’s body remains as flexible as possible (I believe it’s the lack of exercise that shortens the lives of many old dogs, whose bodies succumb to the degeneration of muscle and bone).  In short, Shassi has as good a life as possible, given her infirmities.

However, once it becomes clear that Shassi is in pain or is just not enjoying her food and her walks, we will have her euthanized.  It sounds harsh and cruel to some people, but I believe it’s crueler to keep a dog who has outlived its enjoyment of life, alive.

I think that a lot of people don’t understand the real responsibilities of owning a dog.  There is a lot written and said about the responsiblities you take on during a dog’s life, but many people don’t realize how responsible they are for their dog’s death.  To be a truly responsible owner, I believe that you have to be prepared to take your dog’s life when there will be no surcease of pain or if the dog is broken in some way that can’t be fixed enough so the dog has a happy life.

With Shassi, it’s hard to tell.  She is definitely not the dog I grew up with or even the dog I knew two-three years ago.  She is nearly blind and deaf and she shows little interest in things that used to excite her.  However, she still eats, she shows interest in her walks and she is not showing any of the signs of a dog in pain.  We will watch and wait and, while she is here, give her the best life we can.


  1. Just wanted to say that I understand. Yes, it can sound harsh but it is the kindest thing we can do for our beloved animals who have entrusted us with their care. I once went through it with 3 dogs in the space of 3 1/2 years. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I feel that, in each case, it was the right decision. My only regret is that, with my first sweet little companion/”old soul”, it took me a while to realize that she was telling me she was ready to go.
    My current dog is a shiba rescue who is now about 5 years and I’m hoping we’ll have lots more years and MILES of walks before I have to face it again.

  2. Shassi.. Dearest Shassi.. Who started alot of us on the road to knowledge regarding our chosen breed.

    I know you will know when the time is right. I just had to make that decision just a few months ago, with my 4 yr old Boy Nikko. He had Chylothorax.. couldn’t find the cause of the condition and i am still quite devastated.

    Though i only know Shassi in the virtual world.. She has brought me many moments of smiles and laughter. Please know she has lived a much fuller life and has taught lessons to more people than you can ever imagine.

    Such a loved Shiba.. and loved by so many

    Thank you for the update.. Peace and love to you, your pack and shassi’s pack.

    Nikko’s Mama

  3. I feel your pain, and send all good thoughts.
    I had to ‘babysit’ my folks’ dog when they were on hols some years back, and it broke my heart when his back legs let him down while taking him for a walk. They made the decision to put him down a month or so later, and not a moment too soon I felt.
    It’s not an easy decision, but I’m sure you’ll make it because your cute dog needs it, rather than selfishness.
    Best wishes from the UK.

  4. I feel you’re pain…I too am in the midst of having to make that decision w/ my best friend and companion of 17 years. This is the hardest most heartbreaking decision of my life.

  5. Thank you for your kind and honest sharing. Today I was thinking about my 3 shiba inus’ ages, 11,11,& 10 and how much younger they seem than my friends dogs, who at even 7 seem elderly. I know Shibas live longer than many breeds, and was musing on how remarkably youthful mine all seem. They still seem the same as they all were, once we got thru adolescence. It was helpful to me to read that Shassi is quite different than what she was 2-3 years ago- (age 12-13yrs). So while I need to prepare for the inevitibility of losing my buddies, we are lucky to have a breed who can stay with us a little longer than most. My one girl’s uncle lived to 19! And was rowdy- with plenty of spirited boldness to the end. Our Mi-megumi (god given blessing)

  6. I share your pain…truly…nothing in my life has ever been harder than realizing your love is in too much pain and that I was holding on to her..because I NEEDED her and she needed to be let go to HEAVEN, from whence she came.

    I’m suffering now because my little abused rescue guy has been in pain constantly in the 4 years I’ve had him. I’ve spent ovr $10,000 on vet bills..had him in the ER/hospital 4 times. His butt bothers him…his neck bothers him..he had a salivary infection; got hives; spins and screams while biting his butt.lately he won’t walk..over the 4 years he hasn’t wanted to walk but once in a while..had all the tests, includin MRI..found nothing…but he is drooling a lot, his tempement has become very aggressive now..even toward me…I’ve held on to him…taking him to so many specialists, spent money I didn’t have , even took him to a neurologist..he is on a neurological drug, pain meds, xanax, allergy meds…clonicalm…(not all evry day)….I’ ve had 4 behaviorist specialists come to my home; put him in doggie obedience school to desensitize him to other dogs..he is fear aggressive…and now I’m making the hardest decision. I just moved to Austin in Nov. My husband died in Dec. I had emergency surgery in Dec & now if I must lose the love of my life..I’ll be all alone & grieving beyond my wildest dreams..yet am I being fair to him? I’ve done all I can do. But the docs say that due to all the signs..including the temperament change…he is in CONSTANT PAIN. I will keep you in my prayers…pls keep my little guy in your prayers as we all walk down this valley of grief together.
    thank you.

    • Hi melanie,

      I think that choosing to put a dog to sleep is an intensely personal choice that has to take into account the dog’s quality of life and your quality of life. My hopes go with you.

  7. Melanie-

    My thoughts are with you. Not an easy choice to make. Releasing your best friend from a life of pain may also be an act of love. Been there, had to do it.

  8. Reading this now, I think having our Rudy here, we’re soon to experience exactly what your family faced… is he or isn’t he ready.

    He even looks like Shassi did in this picture, except I can’t hold him like that because of his hips.

    Sigh… why do they have to get old.

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