I published a piece here a while back called “Like You’re Dyin’,” which will be included in the book I’m a hair’s breadth away from publishing on Amazon. I won’t retell that story now, but you can read it HERE.
The gist of it was that I had learned from a neighbor that he had been diagnosed with cancer and had an upcoming appointment scheduled to discuss how much longer he had and what his options might be for prolonging his life or what they might do to help “keep him comfortable in his final days. At a combined age of 135, coming up in the 60s and 70s, we had a good chuckle going back and forth about the drugs we had used in our youth and which ones we would most prefer they gave us in our final moments. Drifting off-topic, as conversations such as these usually do, it didn’t take long for the two of us to start competing about which of us had done the better drugs back in the day and which of us had the most fun consuming them. And, of course, how many nights neither one of us could recall after the drugs wore off.
If you have been following me for any length of time, you are well aware that I have a sort of obsession thing going on with my dog Daisy, who I shamelessly admit that I consider to be my canine soulmate. She is what they call a Golden Newfie (an intentional cross between a Newfoundland and a red Golden retriever) that has been with me for almost nine years to the day. She is the love of my daily life, genuinely my best friend (knows my every deep dark secret and would never break my confidence), loves me unconditionally and has effectively helped me write two books as well as being by my side as I bring my third one to publication.
About a week ago, seemingly out of the blue, she started showing signs that she didn’t feel good; waning appetite, reduced enthusiasm, excessive thirst, and general malaise. I gave it a few days… Did a little home doctoring by way of Google searches… And after Consulting with my daughter, we got her to the vet to see what was happening. Stupid amounts of money later, I was told that their “best guess” was that she probably had cancer and that the only way to be sure was to spend thousands of dollars more on a canine oncologist to confirm the diagnosis. Best guess? Are you fucking kidding me?!
I promise a future essay, with every ounce of salty language I can muster, on the topic of Veterinary Care and the extent to which the industry capitalizes on the raw edges of pet owners’emotions, but that will have to wait for another day. In the meantime, in the immediate matter of Daisy’s condition and my daughter’s “fuck that and fuck them”reaction, along with her assurance that there were still things we could try to do before just giving up and having Daisy killed.
The last straw that led me to take Daisy to the vet in the first place was that she stopped eating for almost three days by the time we finally got her in to be seen. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, cancer or not, if you don’t eat, you don’t live, and with that in mind, my daughter stopped off at the pet food store on the way home and grabbed a probiotic and a pile of small packages of easy to chew and digest dog food. Reluctantly, I will give the vet credit for selling me a steroid prescription that she said might improve Daisy’s appetite because, even though Daisy turned her nose up at the new food for the first several hours after I fed her, once those meds kicked in she scarfed down every drop of that food as if… well, as if she hadn’t eaten for days.
What does all of this have to do with the first and second paragraphs of this essay, you ask?
At nine years of age, having had 19 dogs throughout my lifetime, I understand that no amount of my unwillingness to accept Daisy’s ultimate fate will extend her life beyond her allotted time as granted to her by Nature and circumstance. But it doesn’t mean we should ignore the gift she and I have been given. Like I said, if she’s eating, she’s not dying… At least for now… Whatever time we do have left will be best spent if the two of us live as if she still might be but just isn’t ready quite yet to cross over to the other side. And, referring back to the previously mentioned article that inspired this one- restating the quote that was in the featured image of that essay- I’m going to see to it that however many days, weeks, months, or years she has left will be spent living like we are dying and loving because we are. So should the rest of you.