My dog has lymphoma.
Makes me want to utter oaths and profanities. Life, even canine life, is unfair.
Striker — a six year old black and white springer, bred from the best English stock and the brightest, most inquisitive dog I have ever known — fell ill two weeks ago. I will spare readers the description of symptoms, but this was a very depressing event for all involved.
Striker, sometimes referred to as canine royalty, knew how to strike a pose. He also knew how to chase down a pheasant.
But, cats, yawn, why would I chase a cat? Squirrels, on the other hand, we won’t suffer yard invasions by these pests. Striker would stake out the front window, quivering, waiting for a squirrel to descend the elms into vulnerable space. He would whine and bark, waiting for someone to open the front door, and out he dashed, silent and deadly, but never fast enough. The squirrels always made it to a tree. Striker barked a challenge and retreated from the field. His idiot brother sniffed the flowers and peed on the bushes while Striker did all the work.
Quinn, the idiot brother, is a separate story. How can a dog be stunningly smart and embarrassingly stupid at the same time?
So, here we are, with a wonderful dog, faced with excruciating decisions. First, prednisone, a relatively cheap therapy. It suppresses the symptoms effectively; Striker is swimming, chasing balls, sniffing habitats and, only now, eating a lot. We have to watch the last part.
Second is chemotherapy for dogs. Chemo for humans is designed to nearly kill you in exchange for a new lease on life. The symptoms are ugly. Who could ethically wish that on a pet? Chemo for dogs is designed to minimize side effects and enhance quality of life. The bad part; only for a short time.
Chemo for a 50-pound dog is about $300 a pop, times five. The best result is perhaps another year. More likely a few months.
If this were my child, my wife, my friend, I would not hesitate to spend the $1500. But, I hesitate.
I love this dog beyond reason. People driving too fast in our neighborhood have endured my wrath because they endanger children and dogs. My dogs. I love this dog. He sleeps in our bed. The neighbors love him. He teases his younger brother. He charms walkers at the park. He’s a lover, not a fighter.
Life seems to present choices, sometimes more choices than I invited, at inconvenient times. I did not want to make a choice about a six-year-old springer spaniel, but we have to.
We will treasure every moment until the time comes. We will continue the prednisone, which allows him to be energetic, engaged and a bit obsessed with food, until it no longer works. The time will come, maybe soon, and we will have to let Striker go. With dignity. And tears.