This is a blog post I didn’t think I would be writing for some years. Unfortunately, some things are just not meant to be.
Teddy, the Beagle who so bravely came back from a front leg amputation last year, passed away on Saturday. He was only 8 years old – gone too soon.
Cancer took Teddy’s life away very quickly. For the last 8 weeks or so, Jill had been saying things like ‘he’s not himself’ ‘he’s tired today’ or ‘he hasn’t been right since we changed his medication.’
We discussed diet, a different mixture of supplements, different medications, and different acupressure sequences…
Some days he seemed like his old self, others not. Sometimes his liver function tests came back as abnormal, then re-tests would show an improvement after changing his core food.
But late last week, things turned quickly.
Teddy vomited up his breakfast on Tuesday and then stopped eating and drinking. Another blood test showed highly escalated liver enzymes and Teddy was in trouble. He was booked initially for an ultrasound on Monday but then he had to go to the vet on Friday for fluids and stayed overnight. The ultrasound was moved up to Saturday.
And the ultrasound specialist had terrible news. His report reads “These findings are consistent with metastatic neoplasia (likely sarcoma, adenocarcinoma, or carcinoma). There is hepatic and splenic involvement (with likely metastases to lymph nodes and lungs). Unfortunately Teddy’s prognosis is grave.”
Jill took a distressed Teddy home and her regular vet came to give him his final injection. As Jill said, there was no choice.
When I saw Jill yesterday, she just said that in writing Teddy’s last story, she wanted his story to matter.
I’ve thought really hard about this. I think everything about Teddy mattered. He was a Beagle that was just a little too large to win in the show ring (despite winning best baby puppy several times). Early on, Jill discovered that Teddy was born with bilateral hip dysplasia and she set about keeping him happy and healthy (I came into the picture in 2010 after an unsuccessful attempt at hydrotherapy, because Teddy also had neck problems that were aggravated by swimming).
When I lost Daisy last July, it was Teddy who would come and sit beside me in sympathy.
And then last August’s horrible accident and the amputation which was going to affect Teddy’s mobility as he aged. And he came through it like a trooper. When I adopted Izzy (my greyhound), I took her for a visit and a 3-legged Teddy was zooming after her as if nothing had changed.
So, what do Teddy’s last days tell us?
I think they tell us that no matter how well we take care of our dogs, and with our best intentions for seeing them to old age, we really have very little influence when the end comes. We do our best. And we have to make the right decisions for our dogs in the face of critical or terminal illness.
I’m glad that Teddy came through his amputation so well and that he and Jill had months together that they wouldn’t have had if she had decided to end his life then. And I’m glad Teddy didn’t suffer for days and days like people suffering from terminal cancer do.
Teddy is one of those special clients that I will carry in my heart for the remainder of my days. He was My Favourite Beagle. Everything about him matters.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand