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image of Holly and Harvey spriger spaniels

Holly and Harvey

Friday was a bad day at black rock for me, full of doom and gloom with no light at the end of the tunnel. Saturday dawned and with it came a little glimmer of light. I had fully expected to have to make a decision I had made several years earlier with another pet dog. Sammy was a cross-breed who was my then girlfriend’s dog. Sammy contracted lymphoma. We had treated her, on the vets advice, with chemo therapy. It was extensive and aggressive and It didn’t help. In the end Sammy was so ill we took her to the vet’s and I went in with her. Sammy wasn’t eating, was listless and didn’t want to roam the garden, simply staying in her bed and looking thoroughly miserable. The vet informed me she was not going to survive unless we gave her a new radical treatment. This new treatment could easily kill her by stopping her heart, but it would push back against the cancer. Kill or cure? And the vet insisted it wasn’t going to cost a lot. The cost wasn’t the deciding factor, but I had the distinct feeling the vet was happy to extend Sammy’s agony to boost his turnover. I opted for euthanasia and am glad I did. It was the hardest thing I had ever done and gently held her as the drugs were administered. With a barely perceptible sigh, Sammy passed away and her agony was finally over.

I am not adverse to making hard decisions, life and death decisions, and I did not want Harvey to suffer in the same way Sammy had, so I was fully prepared on Saturday to go to the vets and seal Harvey’s fate. Harvey, though, had other ideas. He was full of life and so happy to see us. The vet explained that though the cancer in his nose is spreading it is localised and slow and not likely to spread into the rest of his body. It’s not painful and is only irritating him, which can be alleviated to a degree with treatment. Harvey is not in pain and the vet felt that he still had a good quality of life. The upshot is, Harvey is still around, still enjoying life and still chewing my plants in the garden.

Harvey came home on Saturday and was groggy from the effects of the anesthetic on Friday, but he was full of life and also full of pee… which he promptly deposited on my feet.

It seems the old saying, you can’t keep a good dog down applies perfectly to Harvey. Yes he has cancer, no he’s not suffering. But, the long-term prognosis is that survival rates are anything from 3 to 18 months. Our vet seems to think Harvey’s heading for the latter end of the scale. Harvey has survived Ataxia, a huge cyst in his stomach and now nasal cancer. But we have to be alert and as soon as he starts to suffer, that’s when the hard choices are made.

One thing is for certain, our vet isn’t in this for the money and not pushing us into boosting his turnover. From a predicted bill of €500 for just the operation, the actual cost was €80 including medication.

For now we wait and watch and as long as Harvey enjoys a run around the garden and is not off his food and even plays with his pal Holly, then that makes me happy.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019

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