June 30, 2003

Good News, Bad News

Not wanting the dog to suffer, and finding the non-steroidal antiinflamatory meds not doing anything for his pain, yesterday morning, I gave Buster a 20mg Prednisone (steroid). We wanted him to be as comfortable as possible until we could end his pain for good, and had planned to take him for his last ride this morning. The first pill had no effect, and he lay under the table, not lifting his head for four hours. I gave him the second Predisone early, and back under the table he went for another four hours. When he heard Ann drive up coming home from work in the late afternoon, he bound out from under the table steady on his feet and ran to the window, then to the door to go greet her, then down the driveway at a run, without a limp. The old Buster was back.

Which raises another dilemma and merely postpones a final decision. Can we maintain his quality of life by one of a number of possible regimens of steroid use... an end-stage measure to be sure, and not without negative consequences on its own... and prevent him from suffering while under the surface, his autoimmune condition (which is everyone's best guess as an etiology) continues to consume his joints? If he is appearing to feel no pain, can we in good conscience have him put to sleep?

And so we begin our well-intentioned experiment in the pharmacotherapy of canine hospice care, duration and course unknown. I hope we're doing the right thing.

Posted by fred1st at June 30, 2003 05:48 AM | TrackBack

You will know what to do when the time comes to do it. FOr now, I think you are doing the absolutely right thing. If Buster is responding to the meds then by all means continue doing them--you aren't going to let him suffer unnecessarily and if they let him continue on without pain for a time, then do it.

Having just gone through this with a cat (and I know, dogs are so much more a part of a family) that had been with us for 18 years, I feel your pain. Ours was not suffering, but was consumed by his hyperthyroidism and got to the point where his meds no longer were working. Luckily for us, he just curled up and went to sleep--thus eliminating the need to make that final and difficult decision. I loved that little black furry thing, I truly did and still cannot decide whether to get another or not........I have always loved dogs best, but because we are rarely home during the day, a cat fits out lifestyle better.

Good luck to you and to Buster.

Posted by: loco at June 30, 2003 11:11 AM

Fred, I am so very sorry. I know that, when the time comes, you and Ann will do the right thing for Buster. I've yet to come up and visit you, and now it seems that, barring some miracle, I may miss my chance to meet this fine friend of yours.

We have two dogs of our own. They have torn up the back yard, worn the finish off the wood floors, vomited on the rugs, and exacerbated deep-seated psychological problems in one of our cats. And yet we love them so much, we can't imagine living without them.

Posted by: Curt at June 30, 2003 11:12 AM

We will keep you folks in in our prayers, buddy.

Posted by: ronbailey at June 30, 2003 12:04 PM

My heart's with you and Ann. Dogs are so goofy, and resilient, aren't they? Sounds like Buster is still enjoying his life with you very much. That kind of love is big.

Posted by: peggy at June 30, 2003 12:12 PM

Our ancient dobie had times when she was doing well and she had times when she couldn't even stand. She lived to 17 before we just couldn't stand to watch her suffer anymore...

You'll know the right time. Just shower the pup with all your love, hope the medications work for now. They cover the pain, but don't fix the underlying problems. It's one of the hardest things one can do in their lives. I know this...

Posted by: Dave at June 30, 2003 12:56 PM

Fred....with the love you, Ann, the kids and Buster have shared, I know you will act in Busters best interests, as he has in yours.

This is heart wrenching, isn't it?

Posted by: Bene Diction at June 30, 2003 01:39 PM

I'm saying a prayer for you, your wife, and Buster. These are tough times. I'm hoping he's without pain soon.

Posted by: Da Goddess at June 30, 2003 08:00 PM

Fred, I can relate to the difficult decisions you're facing now with Buster. We had to put down our almost 14 year old Siberian Husky, Misha, just last week. She was diagnosed with a very slow-growing tumor about four years ago -- at which time we were told she had, at best, four months to live. We declined to enter into expensive chemo treatment ($6,000!), and figured we'd just make her as comfortable as we could. Four years later, she was still relatively spry -- though a bit slow moving -- with a good appetite and good spirits. Her decline was rapid and, we think, due to an infiltration of the spine by the tumor. In the course of a week, her back end simply ceased to function. Our decision then was clear, though no less heartbreaking.

All of this to say that it is never a matter of what you "should" or "should not" do. You and Ann know Buster better than anyone else, and can gauge his ups and downs more effectively than even the most well-intentioned vet. And a day or two of discomfort balanced against week or more of normal activity may be OK. You'll make the best decision you can when the time comes -- my advice is not to color your time with him by worrying about it now.

Blessings to all of you.

Posted by: Francesca at July 3, 2003 02:05 PM

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