This is my dear boy Ziggy. My husband and I adopted him from our local SPCA in 2011, and he was a huge mess! Every inch of skin hurt from the mats and ground-in urine and feces. He was a fence-fighter, but we saw something that made us decide to give him a chance.
It took three days to shave him down. Our local groomer couldn't do it because he was so snappy, which meant we spent those three days shaving small areas before letting him escape to the safety of his bed. Of course, the face and feet were the toughest, but once we got that nasty hair off we saw what a handsome boy he was.
He was a little weird for the first two weeks, but slowly we saw his true personality come through. He is a happy-go-lucky, goofy dog. He likes to drape himself across our laps, and put his head in front of whatever we're working on at the moment. Cats are his worst enemy, but we have no idea what he would do if he ever caught one.
We would never describe Ziggy as a healthy dog. We've gone through bouts of pancreatitis, had a toe removed, and endured the recovering of bladder surgery. His favorite time to get diarrhea is 1:30 in the morning, and it always involves going out every 30-45 minutes. No one tends to get sleep on those nights.
Just before Christmas of 2014, we noticed Ziggy stopped eating, which was quite unusual for him. A visit to the vet (who should have frequent flier cards, by the way) showed that his liver was enormous and crowding his stomach. The only way to know exactly what is happening with our boy is to do a biopsy, but it wouldn't necessarily change the treatment. We have agreed that chemotherapy isn't an option, not because of cost, but because it's simply a way to prolong his life for our own reasons.
Zig's still hanging in, but we can see him fading. Days are spent on a pillow on the floor instead of at his perch on the couch. Some meals go half eaten. Some go untouched. We have one more non-invasive treatment left to try, but we're not going to lie to ourselves about the prognosis. Anyone who has had to go through the loss of a pet knows the gamut of emotion that one goes through. Perhaps the most difficult part is not knowing exactly when the end will come. It's so hard to imagine life without him, but in the moment, we can't imagine him living comfortably in his current condition.
It's said that you'll just know when the time is right. We choose to believe that, and have started grieving now, while we can be with him and care for him. It doesn't make this any easier, but that's okay. If it were easy, he probably wouldn't have been worth it. And we'll tell anyone that we would relive these short years with him all over again. Including the poopy nights.