Heidi Harris

I have a 16 year old shepherd/lab mix named Mocha. Yes, you read that right; she’s 16. Almost unheard of in a dog her size.

I’m certain of her age because I adopted her over 15 years ago, when she was estimated to be ten months old.

Yes, I know she’s in the final stages of her life. She has months at most, and possibly weeks, to live. Her long life is due largely to the cushy life she’s had. Always an indoor dog, and given lots of love and exercise.

Over the last couple of years, as Mocha has aged, I’ve done all kinds of things to make her life more pleasant: I’ve given her Rimadyl twice a day, had a small tumor removed near her rectum that was giving her trouble, and installed a rubber “bar mat” in my shower so she could stand safely and comfortably while I cleaned her up after a “leak”.

(I tried “doggie diapers”, but they are difficult to put on, and you haven’t truly lived until you’ve come home to a “doggie diaper blowout”).

She’s very creaky, but still very alert and happy, wagging when I come home, going up and down stairs, and begging like a pro. She’s deaf, but apparently the nose is the last thing to go. But she’s not “productive” anymore, in the eyes of some. She can’t even go hiking anymore, and she can no longer hear, much less threaten, an intruder. What good is she, they might ask?

I feed her anything she wants, if she’ll eat it. Because of her old teeth, she has gotten expensive canned food for several years, while my other four dogs eat dry. They don’t understand the unfairness, but if Mommy doesn’t want to become homeless, they can’t ALL eat canned food!

I have put waterproof plastic sheets and blankets everywhere she sleeps, because she “leaks” a bit sometimes. I have to wash some of them daily. If she’s sleeping too long in one room, I go and check on her.

I know she won’t live forever, but in the meantime, I’m doing everything I can to make what’s left of her life as pleasant as possible. When the day and time comes, and I feel she’s suffering, I WILL do the right thing for her. But that day is not today.

I am CHOOSING to care for Mocha in this way, because I love her, and because you don’t put a dog down just because their aging is inconvenient. I’m glad I have the CHOICE to alleviate her pain, rearrange my house, and feed her anything she wants.

All this got me thinking; will Obamacare do as much for us as we do for our dogs? Will we be allowed to do for our parents, or allow others to do for us, what we can now do for our dogs?


Heidi Harris

Heidi Harris is Las Vegas' number one radio talk show host.
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