[If you have never had a pet, please don’t read on, you just won’t get it.]
For those who are regular readers of my blog, you will know that our dog Fitz was struck down by lymphoma in the summer. Chemotherapy gave him several more months of really quality life – fun games, fights with his brother, helping in the forest and with the harvests. He was never ill,not even one day, from the chemo, and in fact he often felt better, as his arthritis was eased by the steroids he was also on.
The story changed a couple of weeks ago. He had switched from weekly vincristine to a tablet regime combined with bi-weekly vincristine, in the hopes of halting the growth of the lumps in the lymph nodes in his neck, which were threatening to interfere with his breathing.
This helped for awhile, and he was able to have a full day out with the guys, helping with the olive harvest. He helped us pick chestnuts and cut wood – he still felt well enough to steal kindling from us! This was Fitz doing all the things he loved best.
On Tuesday of this week, he first refused to eat his breakfast, but later ate a good lunch. He started to seem more tired, and took longer to feel up to a walk. Wednesday night, he didn’t want his dinner, and had a very difficult time settling in his bed to sleep – you could tell he was struggling to find a good position, where he could breath easily. Yesterday, he refused his favourite treat, and didn’t want to move from his bed by the door.
It just happened to also be his regular day to visit Anna, his favourite vet in the whole world. He walked into her office and laid down, and didn’t wag his tail or kiss her when she came in. We thought his time had arrived. Anna said they could possibly put him on a drip for a few days, and he might live a few more weeks. She was relieved, I think, when we said no, we wouldn’t even think of doing that to the poor dog.
As a pet owner, you have a responsibility to do the right thing for your friend, even if that includes a decision that tears your heart apart. It is pure selfishness, and even torture, to put them in the hospital at the end, and put them on a drip to extend their life briefly. They have given you their all, their devotion and loyalty, for years – and at the end, they rely on you to take care of them and do the kind, loving thing. That thing that you least want to do.
So yes, our lovely Fitz now lies down by his beloved forest. We are all bereft, including poor Milo, who has lost his constant companion of 6 years.
This morning, we went down to the garden and planted our winter veg. Life goes on, and I think Fitz would approve.