Taking care of an aging dog requires patience and an ability to stand back and look at your animal with a certain amount of detachment. There are many times when I wish they could talk, let me know how you’re feeling or what hurts.
Buddy has been declining over the past couple of months. He had declined to the point of me finding a vet that would come to the house to put him down. Amanda and Cait were both here yesterday at the appointed hour. We waited with Buddy outdoors for the vet to arrive. When he did Buddy ran to him with enthusiasm (we haven’t seen him run in days, maybe weeks). He eagerly took treats from the vets hand, patiently waited through the exam, cheerfully sat with us all while we discussed his fate.
This new vet, what I can only describe as a classic country vet, arrived in his Prius and removed his bags to the driveway. As Buddy barked and wagged his stumpy tail we all introduced ourselves and talked about what we had seen happening in the past couple of weeks. He listened to his heart and lungs, felt the lumps all over his body, checked out his legs and feet (he’d recently broken a nail and had been limping badly – this was a case of adding insult to injury).
It started to rain so we all went into the shop and used a woodworking bench as an examination table. His recommendation was to do a few tests to check his kidney function, thyroid function and rule out things like Lyme and Cushing’s disease. With his symptoms we all decided to rule out things that could be resolved easily with minimal intervention. The vet’s opinion was that Buddy probably had a little more life left in him.
I have to tell you that we were wrecks at the thought of losing Buddy. It’s never an easy decision to make. You think about his life, the dog he was and the hole it is going to make in your life. At the same time it’s just as difficult to watch a once vibrant, active dog struggle for a breath, whine in what seems to be pain, refuse to go for his favorite walks. As Amanda said – he made us look like fools for thinking he was too sick to go on.
This is the first time in decades that I have had a veterinarian that I felt had the best interest of my animal at heart. He was objective, said flat-out that being in the position of deciding an animals fate is the most uncomfortable position he finds himself in. He answered all of our questions and said he would only check him for things that were easy to deal with. In other words he wasn’t going to recommend dialysis, chemo or heart intervention. This is something the vets that have seen Buddy over the years would probably not hesitate to offer. Animal medicine has become a close relative to the medical system we all deal with in this day and age. I always feel it’s all about the money, whatever it takes.
For Buddy this was the best possible scenario, he was thoroughly checked out, in his own environment by a really nice guy with treats.
As the doc readied to leave he took the two vials of blood and placed them into the centrifuge on the floor on the passenger side. Plugged into the lighter socket it quietly spun. He assured me he’d call today with the results and with an idea of where we go from here. I thought to myself that this is the kind of thing that makes me so happy to be here. This is what makes living in a rural area work. The people around you get it. They do their jobs with the understanding and sensibilities that we have grown up with far from the influences of urban life.