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Sunday, January 13, 2008

The value of time (Part I)

What would you pay for a few extra months, or even a year with a terminally ill loved one?  A silly question, I know, but...

A couple of years ago while my family was gathered on Cape Cod to celebrate my parent's 50th wedding anniversary, my dad came down with high fever.  Even though my parents have always been in general good health (tfu tfu tfu), a high fever in someone in his 70s seemed a cause for concern, so my mom took him to the nearest hospital (30-40 minutes away).

After they'd left, the rest of us - children, spouses, etc. - sat around the kitchen of this big old house we were sharing for the week and quietly speculated on what could be ailing dad.  However, we didn't have long to speculate because in a short time my mom was back, looking frazzled and a bit pale... and without dad.

It's hard not to imagine the worst under such circumstances, and we immediately asked her in unison what had happened... where was dad?!   

Her casual answer knocked us all a bit off balance, "He's at the hospital.  It looked like he was going to be there awhile and I was getting cold and hungry... so I decided to come back here."

On its face, there is nothing wrong or improper about her decision to leave dad there and come back for dinner with the family.  But because we'd had a momentary scare, we started relieving the tension by poking fun. 

The hands-down winning line... one that had us on the kitchen floor with tears of laughter streaming down our faces... was delivered by my brother-in-law.  He said, "I'll bet she told the doctors that if it was going to be more than $250 dollars to just have him put down." 

In the end, it turned out that my dad had some sort of infection and he was given some wide spectrum antibiotics.  So feeling much relieved, a few hours later while we were checking my dad out of the hospital, I related the funny line to him.  He smiled through the haze of his remaining fever and quipped, "Hmmm, $250... Not bad.  I'm surprised she'd have gone that high!"

Now, most of you reading this don't know my parents, so you may not be able to fully appreciate how much they love one another.  Trust me, the 50+ years they've spent together is testament to far more than just patience.  Which is likely why we felt comfortable joking about my mother having given instructions to the hospital staff in terms more appropriate to a vet's office than a hospital ER.

However, that vet's office humor which helped break the tension that late summer evening in the kitchen of a rented house on the Cape recently came back to punch me in the gut. 

You see, the furriest member of our family - our 11-year-old black Lab mix, Jordan - was recently diagnosed with cancer.  Specifically, with Lymphoma.   Sadly, even when a pet is as much a member of the family as Jordan, the decision-making process of just how far to go in trying to extend an animal's life is never the same as with a human. 

First and foremost is the issue of money.  Even where the mind (and heart) dictate that no amount is too much to save a beloved pet's life, there are limits to what most of us can reasonably afford to spend on surgery, drugs, therapy, etc. for a pet. 

There is also the specter of euthanasia that lurks, unspoken, during a discussion of a serious pet illness that - my family's dark sense of humor not withstanding - is simply not part of any normal discussion of a human's illness. 

Our vet is a wonderful, dedicated practitioner who saved Jordan's life a couple of years ago when she somehow managed to ingest a lethal dose of strychnine.  He knows how attached we are to her, so when he delivered the bad news about her cancer he was as gentle and thorough as if (G-d forbid) it were a human member of the family under discussion.

But at the end of the lengthy diagnosis process, our vet told us firmly that a decision had to be made.  Without treatment Jordan would likely die in a few months at most.  He said that her only hope of survival lay in a course of chemotherapy over approximately 12 weeks.

This was the point at which our dark humor about my mother giving the docs in that Cape Cod hospital a financial limit on treatment for my dad came back to tear my heart out.

As I absorbed the vet's detailed explanation of the weekly chemotherapy sessions, a small, guilty part of my brain started gently asking unavoidable, terrible questions like 'how much was too much?'... and 'how long a life was long enough?'

As if reading my thoughts, the vet brought the uncomfortable subjects out into the light where we could see them.  He assured us that he didn't believe in expensive, heroic measures to extend an animal's life for only a few months.  He said that if that were the case with Jordan, he would recommend putting her to sleep as soon as she began to suffer real physical discomfort.  But at the same time he wanted us to understand that the most wildly optimistic prognosis chemotherapy could offer an 11-year-old animal with her condition was a year... maybe a year and a half at the outside. 

He then went over what the entire chemo-treatment would cost and explained that even if all went as planned/hoped and she tolerated the treatment, she would also have to come back every three months for extra chemo to make sure she remained in remission.

And there it was.  With the life of our beloved pet hanging in the balance, we were given a lot of 'ifs'... and a terrifying lack of promises.

While certainly nowhere near as costly as a round of treatment at Sloane Kettering, the commitment in time and money we were facing was serious enough to require a private discussion with Zahava.  There was no question that we could make the necessary time to bring Jordan into Jerusalem once a week for her chemo-treatments.  But the only way we could swing the financial end of things was to spread the payments out over a whole year... a scenario which could easily see us making substantial payments well after Jordan had gone on to doggy heaven.

I'll share our difficult decision with you tomorrow... but I'm interested to know what sort of criteria some of you may have used for making decisions under similar circumstances.

Posted by David Bogner on January 13, 2008 | Permalink


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Should I say I have been saved from being in similar circumstances so far. I have, which relieves me to a great deal; at the same time I know that things only get more cumbersome the older (and more mature and rational and realistic) we get.

As for financial matters, allow me to dare the assumption that you'll encounter generous souls when needed, and you won't have to beg. Support of all kinds will be yours.

My worries, in a comparative situation, would be entirely with my pet and my pet's well being. I couldn't take ending a long time of friendship in a final syringe just for the financial side of it all. But I've been known for being emotional even towards my plants, so I am probably anything else than a good example.

Posted by: a. | Jan 13, 2008 2:40:42 PM

I don't have a lot of money but would spend more than I have to care for my animals. To me there is no question and there never will be. However, that said, in viewing the actual circumstances of this case, there is not a whole lot of value added to extending a life for much longer than the pet may live already. Chemo- *might* work. However I have seen more cases where it doesn't. And in an older dog, they may not want to keep going. I wish this option was available to people... to let them go when they can still go with dignity. I think, having been in similar situation with my own once, and many friends' dogs many times, that it is a personal decision, but one that should be decided based on quality of life and not longevity or expense. JMO

Posted by: Rachel | Jan 13, 2008 4:35:13 PM

I am sorry to hear about Jordan. About two years ago my dog Dandy,a six year old hound greatdane mix, was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Dandy was a dog that was 'happening'. The most curious and goofyest of our pack of three. My wife and I do not have children and after discussing this it was decided that he deserved our best efforts at trying to save his life. Along with the chemo we were lucky enough to be 30min from one of the leading vets in stem cell therapy specifically for canine Lymphoma. A fairly new procedeure in dogs that would take healthy cells from Dandy's blood and then reintroduce them into him in a lengthy procedure replacing his blood. But Dandy had to be in remission first. Neadless to say the cost was significant. We made the decision that our vacations and extras would be put on hold to cover this, for however long it took. Taking into acount that his quality of life would be disrupted for a short time if sucessful and then would most likely give him years to come.
Unfortunately Dandy was multi drug resistant and never went into remission. He lived two months past when we expected to lose him without therapy. We were with him every minute we could be. He is missed very much by us and the remainder of our pack, not to mention anyone who ever knew him.
I do not envy your decicion and with the same circumstances we may have not made the same decision. I wish all the best of luck and give Jordan a rub from us.

Posted by: Michael Evanger | Jan 13, 2008 5:16:58 PM

When Isaac and our daughter brought our dog, Ozzy, home as a "surprise" to me, I was very angry. And I said that as soon as that pet costs us serious money, he is gone. But its been two years and I have learned so much about what a dog brings to a family. It breaks my heart to even think about him being seriously ill. In your situation, I think I would make the very difficult and painful decision to keep him with the family as long as he had quality of life, but then to say good-bye to him humanely and with love. Chemotherapy is a bitch and for the dog to have to suffer through that for the possibility of an extra few months doesn't sit right with me.

I recently watched a dog get hit by a car and die. It was an experience that I would never want to repeat again. Our dogs give us so much, and I know you, Zehava and the kids will be devastated. But the end result will be the same. Give Jordan all that you have in the time he has left and then when the time comes let him go.

They say dogs are called כלב (calev) because they capture our hearts (לב--lev).

Whatever path you choose, I wish you the best.

Posted by: Baila | Jan 13, 2008 5:19:59 PM

I came home from a month in Israel two years ago to find my cat had been really ill and lost a great deal of weight while I was away, despite devoted care from a neighbour. I took him to the vet and was told he had cancer; I was offered an operation to remove the tumour. I didn't think to ask about the survival rates and in any case I doubt I could have brought myself to agree to have him put down on the spot. The op cost a bomb, but he did appear to be completely recovered and was his old self within three weeks. But then another month later, it was clear that the tumour had returned with a vengeance and he was back almost to where he was when I returned from my stay.

They also offered chemo and more tests, but couldn't give me any reassurances on its success. I know enough anyway about how horrendous the chemo experience is for humans to feel it wasn't a good option unless there was a very strong chance of success. I decided against it, but that I would keep looking after him till such time as he seemed to be suffering beyond his still present appreciation of life. I hoped he might get to die peacefully at home. In the event, that's what happened, in early May, four months after my return and three after his operation. Though he got very weak and sometimes looked low, he still had a very positive spirit--stopping to chase pieces of parsley like mice the day before he died.

He lost consciousness very peacefully after drinking a last drink of water out of my hand, and he died in his coma the next day at home. I was glad he did not have to end his life on the table of the vet's surgery, but was sitting on the lawn in the sun with me on the last day of his life, very weak, but very affectionate to the last.

I hope Jordan will get to have a good and peaceful last mile of her journey through life. Being with those she loves matters most.

Posted by: Judy | Jan 13, 2008 5:37:37 PM

The decision was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. You don't really have a grasp on your power as a human being until you have to make the decision if another creature lives or dies. After the experience of maintaining a diabetic cat for 6 years, which was every bit as 'fun' as it sounds, and watching him suffer so much at the end because I was unable to make that horrible decision, we chose to make a difference decision with our other cat, and he didn't have to suffer so much. I still struggle with this power, and the balance between that and the joy and enrichment pets bring to our lives. I sincerely hope that you reach a peace with whatever decision you make.

Posted by: ezer | Jan 13, 2008 5:56:17 PM

Our situation was different, though we still had to make a decision. Almost twenty years ago, our sixteen-and-a-half-year-old dog was clearly dying of old age and his systems were shutting down one by one. The vet said that he had a few days left at most and that they would be filled with suffering, so it would be better to put him to sleep before things got worse. So that was what my parents did.

I wish all of you strength and peace and consolation. You and Jordan are in my thoughts.

Posted by: Rahel | Jan 13, 2008 6:03:29 PM

We had a cat when I was younger, who at an advanced age, developed a bump in her cheek. She was pretty much her usual self, but we were concerned, so we took her to the vet. It turned out to be some sort of cyst. We opted for the treatment. She came home with a tube in her cheek and a plastic cone on her head. We had to give her medicine which she hated several times a day. Sometimes, her cheek would leak fluid. She was so uncomfortable, that she would just lie in one place for most of the day. I don't remember the details, but she was not going to get better. Eventually, we decided to put her out of her misery. It was a difficult trip to the vet, but we knew it was the best thing for her. I am sure her suffering made the decision easier for her, but I always regretted starting the treatment. She may or may not have lived longer, but she would have been herself as long as possible, and we could have spent the last days petting her head instead of sticking medicine in her mouth. And, I wasn't paying for it, so the decision is not just a financial one - it's what is best for the whole family, pet included.

Posted by: Ben | Jan 13, 2008 6:11:22 PM

On two occasions we had a family dog who became old and ill. On the first occasion my parents wanted to spare my sisters and I the pain of having to know that our doggy was put down. On the second occasion we also waited too long before making the fateful decision.

In the end our hesitation caused both of these kind, beautiful animals unneeded suffering. It's a horrible situation and terrible decision, but I'm willing to bet you have already made up your mind and simply want to be reassured that you are doing the right thing.

Posted by: Jonah | Jan 13, 2008 6:19:06 PM

Very sad. What it ultimately boils down to in your case is not the wellbeing of the dog--11 years is a normal life span of a dog and sounds like Jordan had a good life--but what kind of a decision you and your family can live with, today and years from now. Will you feel guilty for letting your friend down? Will you have a nagging thought that you should've done more? Only you can answer these questions.

No matter what your final decision may be, there's only one advice I can offer: when the time comes to lay your friend to rest, get another dog. Immediately.

Posted by: packen | Jan 13, 2008 6:25:10 PM

I have had to make this decision regarding family dogs twice. The most recent occasion was this past August.

We began by removing financial considerations. The purpose was to focus on the big lug and whether the medical assistance would extend his life and simultaneously provide for a quality of life.

The vet provided that answer, no. There wasn't any hope of significant improvement and even with assistance he was going to be uncomfortable. I remember finding him stretched out in a pool of his own urine and thinking that I had come to my decision.

It was very painful, but since the quality of life was so poor we decided to let him go. We miss him, but there is no regret about having made the decision, just that he is no longer a part of our daily lives.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 13, 2008 6:45:33 PM

I can't help but be so moved by all these people and the love they have for their animals.

Posted by: Baila | Jan 13, 2008 6:54:23 PM

Two years ago this coming March I had to make a decision regarding my cat Murphy. It was complicated by the fact that I had 'shared custody' with some friends who had cared for her. Long story.

Anyway, she developed osteosarcoma in her sacrum (which is rare in cats under the age of ten). The vet felt removing part of her sacrum and rear right leg would give her a decent chance at long-term survival. We agreed.

She was fine for 5mo, then the cancer returned. At that time, we decided to allow her to live out her life until the suffering was apparent. As the cancer returned to the same general location, her bowels were occluded- the resulting blood poisoning would kill Murphy. It was not very long at all before we were at the vet's.

I don't regret it. I never considered anything more than the initial surgery, because I knew A) radiation/chemo would be torture and B) there was really no chance it would work.

No matter what the decision, I think pet owners always have to consider the extent of the animal's suffering, how prolonging their life will affect the humans involved, and how painful the cost might be down the road. Those things are never easy to balance, but I think in so many situations not pursuing heroic measures is the right thing. That doesn't mean we don't love our animals, and that we don't value their lives. But it does mean we are realistic about their suffering and the potential for long-term debt, which can be very detrimental to the people. I believe, naively or not, that our animals would not want us to suffer for them long after they leave this mortal coil.

Good luck with your decision, David. I will keep Jordan and your family in my thoughts.

Posted by: Lachlan | Jan 13, 2008 7:01:16 PM

As "Packen" remarked, very sad. She knows me and know I adore dogs more than people, with few exceptions. Your dog is 11 years old, extensive treatment now is not going to add even a 12th year with certainty...but that isn't the point. The point is the treatment may add nothing against the aggressive disease. Love him now, be with him now, and be with him on the day he passses away, naturally or with assistance if in growing pain & shows it. My most favorite dog, died at 11 years of age, in my arms, of sudden heart failure. She lives to this day in my memories and the antics of the younger dogs she left behind. Her name was "Zoya." Her adoptive "son" is "Ari" a boistrous big boy who lives on reflecting part of her every day, at 6 still playing with his new companion, now a 3 year old, as if they both were still puppies in the first 90 days. Zoya would've had it no other way.

Posted by: Zoyadog | Jan 13, 2008 7:37:26 PM

We faced a similar decision about 8 years ago with first dog we had ever had. We got her before we had kids, and we probably treated her like our kid. When we did have children, she was a great companion to them, and they were very attached to her.

We did go the chemotherapy route with her because we hoped she would get through that and have a decent life for a few more years. She was around 11 years old at that time.

The chemo was very rough on her; it's not an easy regimen. In the end, the cancer prevailed anyway; we never got those extra few years - just a few extra months, and she was ill for most of them. Finally she was in so much pain that we had the vet put her down. We decided then that if we were ever faced with this again, we wouldn't subject the next dog to chemo; we would make those last few months count and then have her put down by the vet.

Posted by: Steve Bogner | Jan 13, 2008 8:28:39 PM

So sorry to hear about Jordan :(

Posted by: SaraK | Jan 13, 2008 10:16:08 PM

I don't have pets, so I wouldn't feel comfortable chiming in to this discussion. I just want to say that, like Baila, I'm also moved by this discussion.

I've met Jordan and she's a great, friendly dog, and I hope that whatever you decide, she's as comfortable as possible for as long as possible.

Now I feel bad that when I was at your house trying to work, I wouldn't let her "bother" me.

Posted by: Sarah | Jan 13, 2008 10:31:22 PM

I am so terribly sorry to hear about this.

For me, the true question is how much you feel the treatment can give Jordan. If she will be able to enjoy a last year of life, of course it's worth it, if it's at all possible.

A friend went through about a year and a half of trying to save her very old, very frail cat who was suffering from cancer. She paid for several surgeries, and I believe she felt it was well worth the money and the effort of bringing Patches through the post-surgery recovery. Finally, she decided on euthenasia when it seemed clear the cat was suffering, and we could not do anything else. It was hard on her, but I think she made all the right choices.

We lost a dog nearly eight years ago. I still have dreams that he is with my family from time to time.

My love and prayers are with you and your family. I'm so sorry.

Posted by: Balabusta in Blue Jeans | Jan 13, 2008 11:48:43 PM

My parents have always been "animal people," you might say, so I've seen a lot of pets come and go. Now that I'm an adult and living on my own, about the biggest pet we'll have is a goldfish. Cancer or no cancer, the lifespan of most pets is ephemeral, relative to a human. I enjoy pets immensely, but they are only here for a few years. It's something that I've learned to accept. I would just be happy that I could have that pet for whatever time it lived, and let it go when the time came.

I thank God that I have more time than that with the human members of my family.

Posted by: Mark Patterson | Jan 14, 2008 1:43:36 AM

Rub his tummy for me.

Posted by: Alice | Jan 14, 2008 2:55:16 AM

Hi David, I've been reading your blog for years and I've never commented. I live in LA, and before that lived most of my life in Israel.

My friend and his wife brought their wonderful Labrador mix with them when they moved to Israel about two years ago. The dog was barely three years old, something like that. But soon after they had moved, their new Israeli vet diagnosed the dog with the same type of cancer and gave them the same explanation, prognosis and opinion. They chose to pursue the chemo treatments. Unfortunately, the dog barely survived three months and suffered horribly throughout -- nausea, diarrhea, everything. It was heartbreaking.

I have a dog back home and she just turned 11. I love her so much.

Just wanted to share.

Posted by: Corinne | Jan 14, 2008 5:48:18 AM

Aw... so sorry to hear about Jordan. :( I was also moved by the comments people wrote about their pets... I have a 13-year-old Miniature Schnauzer so I know sooner or later or family will have to go thru this decision too. IMHO, I'd do whatever would give the dog the best quality of life, for as long as possible, and end things as soon as it became clear she was in pain. I think our pets are lucky that they're able to 'opt out' of heroic measures to save their lives in ways that humans cannot. In any case, whatever choice you made, I'm sure it was done with loving consideration for every member of the family... big hugs to you all.

Posted by: Chantyshira | Jan 14, 2008 6:19:59 AM

Hi David, so sad to hear this news. For me, the circumstances you describe with your beloved Jordan would be a painful decision, but not a difficult decision, because of her age. Our current three (!) dogs have all been very healthy, but our first Vizsla, named Riley, was not. At the age of 5, he developed mast cell cancer and we were presented with an option of radiation therapy that had a 95% cure rate. With that promising prognosis and because he was still a young dog, we proceeded. It was much more arduous for him than we expected, and if he had been an older dog, I suspect I would have regretted it. But he was cured, with many years still ahead to spend with him, and we were thrilled. At the age of 11, with no warning, Riley's femur snapped in half. X-rays showed bone cancer. We were in shock. The leg was inoperable, but we were given the option of amputating his leg up to the hip. For a moment it was tempting, but it was obvious that while doing so would postpone our own distress, it would certainly not be in his best interest. And that is the criteria I had promised myself I would always use -- what would be best for my pet. Dogs are very stoic in the face of pain and I would rather err on saying goodbye too soon rather than wait too long. Trust your vet. You will be very sad for a time, but feel secure in the knowledge that you gave Jordan a great, great life and I'm sure she wouldn't change a thing. And continue to take pictures and video. I found that looking through those memories really helped.

Posted by: Daphne | Jan 14, 2008 7:07:03 AM

It's your raised-Christian, atheist-with-a-side-order-of-Buddhism blog-pal from California.

You wrote:

What would you pay for a few extra months, or even a year with a terminally ill loved one? A silly question, I know, but...

Not a silly question at all--it is one I found myself asking again and again in the course of my father's illness in 1991, most poignantly the day before he died. It became clear to me that one more day, one more month...wouldn't be enough. I came to peace with his immanent death. It is hard to explain.

I'll share our difficult decision with you tomorrow... but I'm interested to know what sort of criteria some of you may have used for making decisions under similar circumstances.

I know, my father's death an my pets' deaths are in no way comparable. In my view, animals don't fear death as humans do. I believe that our pets have the capacity to fear incapacity (cats more than dogs). What we owe our animal dependents is quality of life. And that is a hard call--a decision we pet owners are only recently having to make.

Personally, I think it depends upon the animal in question. I have euthanized pets earlier than others would have. I have been distressed by others' decision to do heroic care, when I think the animal's quality of life has been sacrificed to the owner's inability to let go.

There's no one answer or rule of thumb.

Posted by: Liz D. | Jan 14, 2008 7:13:55 AM

Trying hard to keep it brief.
Rachel made a good point
Sometimes people are kept “alive” in circumstances where if (pardon the comparison), they were a dog, the humane society would be justified in pressing charges of cruelty. That of course in the name of “sanctity of life”, but life without quality is no life. Does anyone remember the ending of the movie “Le Grand Bleu/ The Big Blue”?
When my time comes, I don’t want to be a burden on those who I love and hopefully love me. Not wanting to put words into their mouths, but I don’t want either of these sample conversations to occur:
Sample 1: “Mummy can we go to the museum on the weekend?” “No little one, we have to go look at Daddy on his life-support machine” “But Mummy, we’ve been doing that for absolutely ever, and Daddy doesn’t even recognize us any more”
Sample 2: “Mummy why isn’t there any money for me to go to college?” “Well, little one, we spent it all keeping Daddy on a machine for a few more months”
If that’s what I’ll be leaving them, then I’d rather shuffle off this mortal coil when my time comes, not before but most definitely not later and dragged out.
Liz also made a good point. Are you worried about Jordan or your own feelings?
If you ask me, the doctors who play G-d are those who keep people “alive” at any cost when their time is obviously over.
I’m not talking about euthanasia here, and not about “Logan’s Run” rather about not prolonging “life” by artificial means when all quality is gone.
That’s why I’m renewing my “Living Will” as issued by the Israeli society to live and die with dignity, known by the Hebrew acronym of lilach and their site is www.lilach.org.il
Don’t get all uptight about “slippery slope” or “thin end of the wedge”, this is only about ensuring that peoples wishes about their own lives are carried out.

At the same time, if I should meet my end in other circumstances which would enable organ transplantation, I also have a donor card (remember, our gracious host here wrote about halachic organ donations HOD about a year ago), and very importantly I keep that and my living will in the same pouch as my ID card and drivers license, but in front of them, so that nobody should say that they didn’t see it.

Life is about quality not quantity, that’s the bottom line. That counts for two legged and four-legged.

Posted by: asher | Jan 14, 2008 12:53:16 PM

So sorry about the diagnosis, I can't even imagine what I'd do were that Shira...that said, my family did recently have to deal with a situation with the elder statesman of our furry pack, Nick. Nick had been sick for awhile, nothing specific, but he was a 17.5 year old mutt...luckily for all involved (and I know this is going to sound anything but lucky) he had a grand mal seizure one night leading to a trip to the ER vet and a straight talking vet who explained what he would be dealing with should he wake up again. That made the decision clear, if not any easier.

The point is this, dogs can't understand why they are in pain, and they can't understand that some of the measures we take that hurt are actually meant to help. All they know is that it hurts and we as the humans in these cases can't forget that.

I hope you and your family (and that included Jordan) are able to work through this in a way that is the least harmful, if not beneficial, for all.

Posted by: Jesse | Jan 14, 2008 6:16:42 PM

One of my dogs was savaged by an unknown loose dog in the neighborhood a couple years back. We didn't notice (dogs being the phlegmatic types they are) until the next morning. They had to work hard to save her; costing I'd guess in the $500-1000 range. Those were back when $US were worth something, too! The missus was aggravated and I am very much not a pet-lover but the long-term prognosis was good. She is still with us, in this, her "bonus round" (as Stephen King calls it).

If I amortize the costs, and she goes another few years, it'll be worth it. ;o/

We almost pulled the trigger on her. But she's a "good dog," which is all dogs ever really aspire to, isn't it? If we *did* put her down, I would have told myself she'd had a good life.

Under other circumstances, I think I would have gone the other way with her. Heck, I hope my own kids don't break the bank keeping me alive when the time comes -- I'll have other places to go (I'll get to solve the whole "meaning of life" business!) and I'm sure they'll have better uses for the money...

I have not read part 2 until after I post this. It's been awhile since I've put off reading something due to dread.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Jan 15, 2008 9:46:31 AM

P.S. I should clarify that the comments above about "she" refer to the dog and not my wife, whom I love dearly.

P.P.S. I also have a dingy white rat/cat/monkey thing named "Guy." (Siamese, I think) I picked up about 15-16 years ago and the thing is NEVER GOING TO DIE; it's been trapped in car engine compartments on the road to other towns, runaway (after being stuck in a car engine) into a strange town 10 miles from home for two weeks, chased by coyotes, been through at least TWO urinary blockages that almost killed it while we were away on vacation, been treed on a power pole for a week or so, and now looks to have eye-cancer. It weighs 16 pounds and I had to install a NEW cat door on the pantry door when this Guy actually couldn't stuff himself through the old door anymore and would get stuck like a full tick with his legs wiggling about.

We like Guy. We just don't think he's actually a cat, though.

Maybe he's a house demon.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Jan 15, 2008 9:58:08 AM

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