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Heartbreak

>> Thursday, October 14, 2010

Our Basset hounds have never known a day of life without each other.  They are litter mates.  They sleep on top of each other, spend their days in a crate together, and spend every waking moment in each other's presence.  After touching each other all day in the crate, they proceed to play together, and then fall asleep on top of one another.  If they were human, they would most certainly finish each other's sentences.  They're so symbiotic, it's frightening.

And I don't say that lightly.  I'm staring the implications of such co-dependence right in the face.

Lucy is sick.  Very sick.  After weeks of visits to our regular vet and a whole lot of testing, we had no idea what was wrong.  She was limping and depressed, and started to lose her appetite.  Our vet recommended we take her to an Internist who works at a nearby emergency veterinary clinic.  We decided to skip that step, and took her straight to Cornell Animal Hospital in Ithaca.

At first, after the initial exam at Cornell, the vet there thought as our vet had - that she likely had an immune mediated illness that was affecting her joints.  They started running tests to confirm that diagnosis, and ran into a big old red flag.  They noticed Lucy's right hip joint is being eaten away by something, and that something turned out to be cancer.  To be precise, it's a pancreatic cancer that has now spread through her whole body, and is eating away at her bones.

It is not treatable.  All we can do is try to manage her pain.  The vet speculates that, given how aggressive this particular cancer is, we may have a week to a month before the pain is unmanageable.  All we can do is try our best to monitor it, and convince her to eat.  If she doesn't eat, obviously, our time with her is very short indeed.  At this moment she's contemplating some ground beef... and thinking about tasting it.  I hope the strong pain killers will help in all respects, but am not convinced.

She is only four years old.

We remain adamant that whatever decisions we make for her must be right for her - her quality of life is our primary concern.  I have lost pets before, including our sweet old dog Clancy whom I loved more than I knew it was possible to love another living creature.  The grief of losing a beloved pet is always terrible, but the joy they bring us somehow makes it worth it.

But this time, we know that whatever decisions we make for Lucy also deeply affect our poor Simon.  We wonder if he will survive without her at all, or just give up and stop eating.  And if he does survive, I cannot even begin to comprehend the kind of loss he will experience.  I think only twins could know what that would be like.  This time, looking at Simon's worried face (he is worried) is making this infinitely harder than any pet's illness has ever been.

11 comments:

Woodswalker October 14, 2010 at 8:47 PM  

I am so sorry to hear this bad news, both for you and for Simon. Folks who live with and love their animals know very well that they feel emotions. Please know that you are not alone in your sadness. Many others of us care, too.

swamp4me October 15, 2010 at 7:13 AM  

So sorry to hear this. I can only echo what Woodswalker said...many others of us care,too.

Rachel October 15, 2010 at 7:52 AM  

Oh, honey. I am so, so sorry.

barefootheart October 15, 2010 at 10:38 AM  

Oh, I am so very sorry to read this. Like Woodswalker, my thoughts are with you all.

Carolyn H October 15, 2010 at 1:21 PM  

I am so sorry to hear about Lucy. I know how hard this is to deal with, and my thoughts are with you and Simon both. Take care.

Carolyn H.

reneé October 16, 2010 at 10:41 AM  

oh my goodness...
completely unfair.
words fail me.

Ellen Rathbone October 18, 2010 at 2:46 PM  

Thank goodness the library is busy, for no one is staring at me as I sniffle quietly, reading your post, eyes dripping. Sure wish I'd brought a tissue with me!

We do love our pets - those furry members of our family. It is hard to let go. Maybe Simon will be able to attach to another dog (or kitten)?

My thoughts are with you. Give them both a pat and a treat from me.

Vanillary October 18, 2010 at 11:04 PM  

I'm so sorry. I, too, tear up at the mere thought of animal suffering, and that of Lucy is no exception. Enjoy the time you have with her.

Jodi B. October 21, 2010 at 3:09 PM  

I am so so sorry to hear this. I know how much you love Lucy; I am sure she has loved you just as much over the years you've known her. <> I'm so sorry you have to have this sadness.

There's really nothing that can make the pain any easier to take. If you can bear it, take a snippet of her fur and stash it in an envelope somewhere. I did that with my elderly cat Cleo when she died several years ago. I still stroke it from time to time, remembering her and crying a little too. I'm glad to still have a little of her to pet.

Jodi B. October 21, 2010 at 3:13 PM  

Sorry, the < > brackets were supposed to read [[hug]].

Jodi B. October 21, 2010 at 3:19 PM  

Oops, the < > was meant to read [[hug]]. Darn coding.

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