The decision to put a dog to sleep is always painful but relatively easy when the dog is ill. Jay, the 15 1/2 year old Labrador I inherited when my mother died 18 months ago, was not ill but her arthritis had finally got the better of her. Just a few weeks ago she went for quite a long, albeit slow, walk on the beach but last week she deteriorated rapidly and I felt she had grown tired of constantly falling over, unable to get up unaided - tired of life altogether. We spent her last day sitting in the sun and her last few minutes happily in the back of my car stuffing biscuits - a Labrador to the very end! - and then I sat and stroked her as she slipped into a heavy drug-induced sleep, never to wake again. (It's peaceful for the dog but horrible for the owner - but I believe you owe it to them not to die surrounded by strangers).
Jay was the sweetest, most easy going and laid-back dog I have ever known. She was bred, trained, worked and loved by Ian who showed how much he loved her by letting her go to my mother when his personal life meant that he could no longer care for her properly. My mother adored her - and the devotion was mutual. They went everywhere together and made lots of new human and dog friends. Jay wanted for nothing: a busy social life, beds upstairs and downstairs as well as a blanket on the terrace, special food plus vegetables bought and cooked to order, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, walks in the woods and of course boundless love. When my mother had to go into hospital it was a photo of Jay she wanted by her bed - not of her children! The two old ladies grew old together in perfect contentment and in an ideal world, they would have exited together. But instead poor old Jay came to live with us, a very poor second best. I am sure she often dreamed of the good life she had left behind, where everything revolved around her.
My dogs have always been buried at home but Jay will be cremated and her ashes scattered on my mother's grave. I like to think that they will be united again, for ever.