coping with loss (again)

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

Roger Caras

My next-door neighbors came home last week, having taken a rare vacation, to find one of their Doberman’s gravely ill from a heart condition. It was not inattention; they knew the dog-sitter. However, they were advised by the vet, treatment would not guarantee recovery nor an improved quality of life. The difficult choice was to put him to sleep. It was not the first time they had made the choice. Seven or eight years earlier they brought home Dobermans, and not long after had taken in an abandoned Mastiff; a few years ago the mastiff developed cancer for which they invested thousands in his treatment. And yet the mastiff died within a year. Making these health and welfare decisions for our pets is the most difficult thing when you have been companions for so many years. But I completely understand the factors that underpin medical decisions. The cost of medical treatment is just untenable for most people. Comet – with the potential of treatment and amputation of a leg, still had debilitating arthritis; with Dexter, the potential of ongoing dialysis was equally a horrible option for an old dog.

If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans

James Herriot

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