Was it right to put our old dog to sleep?


My wife of 5 months (we have dated for 8 years) had a dog 17 years old. One year ago it had lost use of its back leg, so it had to be helped outside with each step. About 3 weeks ago it had a stroke and wasn't able to walk at all, so after it soiled my wife would clean it right away. Since its stroke, its kidneys began to shut down, according to the vet. One week ago it had a 6 inch skin tear, due to the kidneys shutting down. The vet stapled it, but it became infected, and gained two other skin tears; one went through the tissue into the abdominal cavity exposing the dog's liver. A piece of skin that had narcosed to the size of a baseball was going to have to be removed, leaving another open wound.

The vet advised that the skin tears and infections would continue and suggested that maybe we should think about ending his pain and suffering, but he would leave the decision up to us. We discussed it and she said she couldn't make that decision, so I did and had the dog put to sleep. We took it home and buried it on the farm in a place of respect. Now she says she will never forgive me because I killed her dog and it was up to the Lord to decide when it was his time, nobody else's. She tells everybody that the dog died a natural death and forbids me to tell anybody what really happened, even our minister, because she doesn't want people thinking that she took part in killing her dog.

I keep explaining that the dog was suffering and in lots of pain and all the medicines that he was taking was keeping him alive for the past 2 years, antibiotics, and a blood thickening medicine for its intestinal bleeding, thyroid medicine, and arthritis medicine, and now nothing was helping. We are both very spiritual, but I believe I was right, was I? if I was how can I help explain this to her, that it was best for the dog.


There are a number of problems going on in your marriage; the issue concerning the death of your dog is just a convenient excuse to lay blame. Thus the real issues are being ignored. What these deeper issues are, I cannot say with certainty because there is too little information to go upon.

As described, your wife is acting like a small child. She could not face the fact that her beloved pet was old and dying. When the vet suggested that it was time to end his suffering, she claimed she couldn't make the decision and left the choice up to you. Therefore, she made a choice -- to follow her husband's choice. Now that it is done, she is reneging on her word. She blames you for making the hard choice that she wouldn't make, and she wants to cover it all up with lies.

While God made animals alive, animals are not lesser human beings. Only man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27); that is, man was given a spirit like his Maker. He was given the task of watching over the world that God had created (Genesis 1:28). When a man or animal kills a human, it is to be put to death (Genesis 9:5-6), but the same rule is not given when humans kill animals for food (Genesis 9:3).

You made a kind and decent choice considering the pain of the dog and the possibility of further joy in life. Your wife, unfortunately, appears to have placed her attachment to the dog above the dog's best interest as an animal. Such conflicts are not unusual. Men tend to base their judgments on unemotional, rational thought. Women tend to base their judgments on their emotional response. Neither is bad; in fact, the variation can lead couples to better decision making as a family. However, when really hard decisions have to be made, God placed the husband as head (Ephesians 5:23). The wife's view is considered and weighed, but the responsibility of the final decision is the man's.

The time for your wife's input was before the hard decision had to be made. Now that it has been done, she needs to leave it behind. All her games of blaming you will not change the past. Until she grows up to become a true woman, you will not be able to change her mind or stop her tongue (Proverbs 21:9, 19; 25:24). "A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike; whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand" (Proverbs 27:15-16). For your part, be confident that you made the best choice that you knew how and go on from there. Quit second guessing yourself. Don't let her force you to live in the past with her. Lead by example by living for the future and encourage her to follow.