Cosmo, our rat terrier, has been a great family dog and we've had him around for 14 years. Sure, there are quirks...he eats frozen shit in the winter like it's a delicacy. He has allergies at the end of the summer that cause him to lick his paws until they look like they've been dipped in red Kool-aid. He doesn't really know any tricks, unless you count "get your cold slimy nose off of me" a trick. He pretends he's deaf and blind unless bacon falls on the floor, and every morning after he eats and takes a dump he deals with a red rocket. Trust me, you really do not want me to go into any further detail on that last bit of information.
Basically, though, he's a good dog. He rarely barks after dark because he knows we'll kick his ass if he does. He has never eaten any stuffed animals, shoes, toys, furniture or video game controllers. He doesn't bite strangers, and is always patient around little kids. He has never ran away and loves to chase the geese out of the yard.
Unfortunately, the last few weeks have left us looking really hard for those redeeming qualities. Just how many times can a geriatric dog shit/barf/ shit/shit/barf/barf/shit on the floor before we say adios? The last few times that I've bought the 15 pound bag of dog food, I wonder "is this the last bag of food I'll need to buy?" or even "maybe the 8 pound bag would be enough." It's horrible to think that way, but I'm just trying to be realistic.
Honestly, I think dogs have it pretty good at the end of their lives. When they get old and lose their eyesight, hearing, tolerable body odor, control of their bowels, and can't drive their Buick faster than 43 mph, they can simply get a shot to put them out of their misery instead of asking someone to change their colostomy bag. When I think of it this way, it makes the end a little easier to accept.