End of Life – Our Experiences

The behavior of many dogs changes as they age. They can become aggressive, crabby, forgetful and incontinent. Their mobility may decrease. As your dog’s guardian, you can make changes to help accommodate his aging and enhance the quality of his life. Segregation from other dogs may be one of these changes. Younger Basenjis may suddenly attack old companions when they become sick or demented.

Deciding to euthanize a Basenji is wrenching. Under emotional stress, many factors can crowd our mind, cloud our thinking, and potentially cause us paralysis. At Camp Basenji, we control this impediment to a sound decision by strictly confining the factors we consider to one: the quality of life of the dog.

  • Matters are more straight forward when a dog is in obvious pain or suffering. As their guardian, we are able to help end their torment.
  • Things get more difficult when a dog is slowly, gradually losing vitality. There is no obvious pain or illness. At Camp Basenji, this is when quality of the dog’s life, fully explored, serves as our North Star. Does he play? Does he recognize and respond to us normally? Is he responsive in ways that permit us to protect and care for him? These are examples of questions we examine to assess quality of life.

Finally, at Camp Basenji we remember that the decision to euthanize a dog, while among life’s most difficult, is an act of kindness and love. It ends suffering. It permits peaceful passage. Having the vet come to your home to help your dog transition will reduce your companion’s anxiety. It permits his final moments to be in a familiar, safe setting. It may help other dogs in your home better understand and adjust to his departure. To say ‘good bye’. It can be a spiritual experience.

Additional Resources on End of Life