Extended Definition: Morality and Animals

My dog is old and his senses are slowly diminishing - bad eyesight and hearing, but what seems to be the worst off is his sniffer. Things he sniffed quickly before realizing he’s familiar with that object and isn't interested he now spends a considerable amount of time with his nose pressed up against it. Although an old man with occasionally weak knees and wavering balance, he still needs his exercise. Taking him down the block and back used to take 5 minutes - that was a “short” walk just so he could make his potties, however, he sniffs as he walks and now every interesting patch of grass, every tree stump, bush where a rabbit or other animal recently cozened up in and abandoned now gets a detailed, thorough examination with his sniffer followed by a re-examination. Letting him take his time now takes 20 minutes for the same, “short” walk.

I started dragging him along sometimes and when my sister saw me doing this she yelled at me - she said I was being incredibly mean. She was right, but I didn't see that at first. What I saw was my frustration in standing there all the time watching him slowly sniff every inch of ground over and over like an alzheimer’s patient trying to vacuum a dirty floor with it not plugged in going in circles not entirely sure what they’re doing. An intrusion on my time.

But what about his time? I sometimes wonder about the pets we take care of and where the moral threshold lies in what is considered unacceptable and why. Take for example, a few months ago after my dog developed a high fever and ended up having to be carried into the animal hospital. This had happened once before - when we found out he had a tumor. However after a course of antibiotics he was back to his norm, which was still fairly healthy. Now he is in the same situation and the veterinarian is telling me he needs to be put down, treating him will just prolong his suffering.

To not agree with the vet and say no would be cruel and unusual punishment, in a way, wouldn't it? Knowing by trying to keep him alive he will just suffer more under all the supportive care laying on the animal hospital table, still dieing, but just a little slower. The vet didn't know for sure but was almost certain my dog’s fever was from his tumor.

I decided to tell the vet you will do what you can to help him - treat his fever like an infection. Fluids and an antibiotic. He’d be dead in the morning anyways. He lived and was back to himself again within a few days.


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