Saturday, October 13, 2007


Dogs already possess the qualities that humans admire and aspire to. After our friends, our family, our children, dogs are the greatest treasure among God's blessings. We are honored and humbled by the presence of dogs in our lives. Some of you know what I'm talking about. To those who don't, I'm sorry, but it's beyond my ability to explain. I'll leave it at that.

When our obligations to our four-legged loved ones cost money, and it's within our means to spend it, we do: My Missy's chemotherapy cost me $3,000 and extended her life by eighteen months. I have never for a second regretted it. Judi spent $2,000 for surgery to repair her Bailey's ruptured spine. Money well spent, in her opinion. When I first adopted by three-legged beagle, Andrea, I spent $1,800 on an operation to try to repair her disabled leg. My only regret is that the surgery didn't help her.

I posted in August that Judi's beloved little beagle, Princess Sunni, had a ulcer in her eye, and Judi was very distressed that there was a possibility that she may be blinded in that eye. Since then, even as Sunni's eye recovered, she became unsteady in her footing. This was attributed to an ear infection, which was treated, and for a short happy moment we thought things were well. But the unsteadiness didn't completely go away, and Sunni began to have problems holding food in her mouth. Judi became more and more alarmed. Last Tuesday Sunni went back to her doctor, and it was discovered that the left side of her face is paralyzed.

By Thursday the vet had eliminated possible causes related to infection and organ failure, and we were faced with the reality that it was a neurological disorder. The next day, Friday, yesterday, Sunni saw a veterinary neurologist in Maitland (about an hour and a half away).

Sunni had $2,000 worth of examination (yes, just examination, not treatment -- the MRI was the bulk of the cost). We waited with some anxiety but also hope. The symptoms didn't seem very severe, there was a possibility it could be a swelling in the spinal cord that would be susceptible to medication, and even if it was a tumor, canine brain tumors are often treatable.

At 2:00 pm yesterday we were handed the results, and it turned out our hope was baseless: Sunni's brain tumor is in the part of the brain that controls things like heartbeat and breathing, so surgery is out of the question. Without any treatment, she would have only two or three months of life. With (very expensive) radiation treatment, her life will be extended, but still the median survival rate with radiation treatment is only nine to twelve months. Cure is impossible.

There aren't many afternoons in my life that were as horrible as yesterday's. A couple of months ago, it was distressing that Sunni might lose sight in one eye. Now, all of a sudden, we are facing fatality. As you may have inferred from my choice of verbs in the previous paragraph, Judi has decided to go ahead with radiation. Next Tuesday Sunni will go back to Maitland for a CT scan, and the following Monday she'll begin three weeks shuttling to Maitland every day for her therapy. Then we will embark on what will probably be the final year of her life. My own feelings have been in oscillation. Yesterday evening Judi and I actually felt grateful for the opportunity to have one more year with this winsome, loving, utterly wonderful little creature. After all, as bad as the news was, it could have been worse. But then at 2:00 this morning I woke up, wide-eyed, and lay in bed for a couple of hours overcome with dread at the prospect of losing this winsome, loving, utterly wonderful little creature.

I mentioned that the radiation treatment will be very expensive. It will be more expensive than any of the procedures we had done for Missy, Bailey, and Andrea. In fact, it will be way more expensive than all three of them combined. Judi and I have canceled our plans for a return trip to Europe next Autumn, and that will offset a lot of the cost.

I don't think we will for a second regret it.

Princess Sunni

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how horrible. i wish and send the best for all of you during this difficult period.
I am so sad for your family but I know Sunni will spend her final days in your love and will be a happy dog -- you have both been blessed by the bond you have shared.
i am so sorry to hear about sunni's tumor.

i 100% understand about not regretting paying for pet health care. and about waking up in the middle of the night when they are sick.

my feeling is that if it extends their happy time, do it. if it won't--i.e. the furry one will be in too much pain and not enjoying life much at all, well, that's when the hard decisions come in.

we ended up cancelling t's b-day trip to calistoga and looking after our new-to-us, very ill kitty. no regrets there; he's doing well and he needed our help (and money) at that time.

reiki on the way to ms. sunni, if she'd like some.

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