I have a dog with an inoperable tumor. It has been so hard watching him go downhill as his illness proceeds. I hold him at night wondering how much he understands about what is happening. At first it was just a bump on his head but that bump just kept growing. I took him to the vet where I was told that the tumor could probably be surgically removed but the money for surgery just wasn’t there at the time. I saved up until I had the surgery fee but when the vet operated, it turned out to be a spongy mass that could note be removed. Along with the mass, there was a couple of cups of gore that the vet did remove. He had never seen anything like it. The gore was a gelatinous mess that came out in strings. This did reduce the size of his bump which I had hoped would ease any discomfort he might be feeling. It has been a few months since that surgery and Tank’s head has been increasing in size since then. He has been on pain medication since the surgery and I’m sure that helps with any pains he may be feeling.
I called the vet again to ask if it would be possible to put a shunt in his head to allow the gore to drain. He didn’t think it would be possible but was willing to open his head to remove the gore again. Afterwards, he left the cut open to allow his head to continue to drain until it heals. I’m actually not sure it will heal since there is still some drainage coming from the wound.
I know I’m probably overdue to make a decision to end this pain for a friend who has been loyal and loving from the day I brought him home as a stray. I found him wandering around at the elementary school greeting kids left and right. The principal didn’t know what to do with him so I volunteered to take him home and try to find his family. Of course, he had found his family and he has shown his gratitude for many years now. Out of all the animals I have had over the years, I have only had to make that decision once; this was for an elderly cat had kidney failure and had not urinated in 2 days. It was so clearly the right thing to do for that cat; the decision is not so clear-cut for Tank. Tank still has a quality of life that shows when he patrols the perimeter of the property or when he comes and lays his head in my lap. He still loves getting treats although lately, he buries as many of the treats as he eats. I feel it isn’t my place to make such a decision unless he is in obvious distress. I don’t want to make the decision just because his head is a bit of a mess due to the drainage and it is inconvenient for me to have to clean up after him. And while it appears to be inconvenient for me, it is a labor of love that I do not mind performing. He has done so much for me over the years that it feels right to be able to help him now.
So for now, I’ll continue to take care of him as his health declines. I do feel that this is part of the life cycle and while it is a difficult part of the life cycle, it does help us to accept death when it eventually comes. If his health declines to the point that he is in constant pain or if he can’t breathe comfortably; I’ll have to come back to the decision point. My son is also sharing the burden of Tank’s care. He helps with the medication and with helping keep his head clean. He gives him treats and encourages him to eat. It really helps me to know that I’m not alone in my love for Tank………….