This beautiful illustration is by Kevin Brockbank, and it accompanies a moving feature by Patrick Burns (aka "Terrierman") in the December issue of Dogs Today magazine.
Here's an excerpt:
And so now we come to the old dog, the ancient hound who now lies arthritic and deaf.
What do we do here? How will we know when to say when?
There is no clear answer, other than to keep your eyes open.
If the dog refuses water, it is time.
If an old male dog has blood in its urine, it is time.
If a dog cannot stand on its own due to failing joints, it is time.
Do not let the dog live in pain.
Recognize that dogs are natural stoics, and what looks like a little pain may be a great deal more than that.
Which brings me to the most important point: Be early, not late.
A week early, and not much is lost; your moved-loved dog slides off to sleep still free of anxiety, pain, and fear. It is a gentle thing, I assure you.
A week late, however, and you have needlessly tortured your best friend because you were unwilling to face the inevitable.
In the end, it is your job to stand for the dog, and to put the dog first.
This is your last duty.
Don’t fail him now.