I tweeted yesterday (yes, I tweet now. Occasionally.) that "Old pets are expensive." I don't think I need to have added that they are worth it, as they are family. But just in case that wasn't understood: they are totally, totally worth it.
This seemingly disembodied head is dear 16-year-old Leroy in his cone, to prevent him from chewing at the growth on his chest. You might not know this, but these cones are really noisy in the middle of the night when the dog starts bumbling around, bumping into the bassinet (eeeeek! He's going to wake the baby!!!!!!) God, not a restful night! Jim is off right now buying some soft neck-pillow-type collar that will be more comfortable for him and much less likely to wake up Clementine.
He is also wearing a T-shirt to keep the lump from oozing on stuff. Poor old boy. We've already had this growth removed twice, and you know what surgery costs. We don't really want to do that again, because Leroy is 16, but when we got home from my dad's birthday dinner last week it had burst and was bleeding everywhere and Jim had to take him to Dove Lewis, the emergency hospital, and pay $75 for it to stop bleeding on its own while he was waiting, and then be told there was nothing they could do anyway but remove it, for double the cost of going to our regular vet. Sigh. Still trying to avoid surgery.
The lump, however, is not the thing we worry about. Leroy's having trouble with his hind legs. He's had arthritis for years. Check out this dog's pharmacy:
Crazy! He's been on regular Adequan Canine injections, which have worked wonders (if you have an arthritic dog, seriously: look into it), but now it seems like he might have a herniated disc in his back and he's just really losing strength, and kind of walking hunched up like a raccoon. There have been some bad days. He was actually scheduled for acupuncture this morning, but he's doing better so we canceled it. Jim and I have not even ever had acupuncture! Of course, nor have we had radiation (thank god), but Leroy has, a couple of years ago when he had melanoma on the roof of his mouth that -- by sheer luck -- the vet caught early while removing an abscessed tooth! (Usually that is not caught early enough to treat.)
All this stuff really adds up. Special food, multiple medications, vet visits. And looming over all of it is the terrible knowledge that one of these days . . . the time will come where we have a decision to make. It's not now, and maybe it won't be very soon. It's been three years since we lost our Shiloh, my beautiful Siberian husky. In her final weeks (when she deteriorated fast after initially responding well to radiation for nasal cancer), I remember that everyone would say, "You'll know when it's time," and I wasn't sure if that was true. How would we know? But you know what? We really really did know.
Leroy is a very tough old boy. He's still eating happily and can walk well enough (with the exception of a scary day or two last week) for two short daily walks. He's still happy, and hopefully will stay so for a while yet :-)
An another, totally unrelated, topic: Patrick Rothfuss has a great post up today on how even writers hate their job sometimes. Check out that unbelievable email from a reader . . . (thanks, Stephanie, for the link!) Oh, and while you're over at Pat's blog, scroll down a few posts. He's got an awesome fundraiser going right now: it's like a raffle; you purchase chances to win your name (or name of your choice) going into his next book! The proceeds go to Heifer International, who he raised over $100,000 for last year! This fundraiser is somewhat scaled back from last year's, which practically got to being a full-time job for him and his girlfriend. Since they have a brand-new baby, I'm glad they didn't attempt such a massive undertaking this year. It's pretty awesome they're doing it at all.