Happily my 5 year old Dane and 5.5 year old Bloodhound are both in good health, and I haven’t been faced with any tough decisions on either of them yet. But when I see articles like the one on Face Book today, I have to wonder to myself, how far would I go to save the life of one of my dogs?
The article announced that a vet hospital has been able to perform brain surgery to remove a tumor from a 12 year old Maltese. Click here to read it on Facebook.com.
After the delicate surgery, the top of the skull was replaced by a titanium mesh, then covered with the dog’s original skin. The dog will now have to undergo both radiation and chemo in order to prevent the malignant tumor from regrowing too fast. The post doesn’t indicate how much time the owners bought with this elaborate procedure, but it does say that the dog should have a “good quality of life.”
What does that mean in a 12 year old dog with a fatal disease that will almost certainly kill him at some point? And I shudder to think of the price tag for this.
People are free to spend their money however they want, and far be it from me to tell anyone when the time has come to let go of their precious animal. But I think we have gone too far when we think of putting our dogs through surgery, chemo, and radiation for a relatively short reprieve from death. Just as I think we reject death as humans, we do the same for our pets, and force them through things to give them just that extra year or few months. It’s one thing to treat a younger dog with a decent possibility of full recovery and many years of potential life. And I’m not sure how many those years would have to be in order to be considered “many.” But I hope that if I’m faced with these choices, I can allow my dogs to go with a minimum of pain and suffering on their part, and not fight a desperate rear-guard action for an elderly dog who deserves more dignity than that.