Monday, June 2, 2008


Aleita & Dempsey, January 2008

I'm worried about Dempsey. Our beloved boxer dog will be ten at the end of this month, and his health has taken a serious turn for the worse lately. He has a bad case of bronchitis that he just can't seem to shake. He has had two vet visits and a few different kinds of pills, yet his cough and wheezing continue to get worse. When he tries to bark, all that comes out is a gaspy ruff. He forever sounds like he is trying to hack up a fur ball because of his constant coughing and gagging. After running across the yard, he sounds like an old man with late stage emphysema who has just climbed a flight of stairs (for those MTA folks reading, you will immediately think of Mr. Merriman, I'm sure.)

Dempsey is still very active and is eating well, so that is good. The day that he doesn't want to run and chase his ball in the yard will be the telltale sign for me that things are going to seriously go downhill. I have never known a dog that loved to chase a ball that way that one does. When he was a pup, he would play until your arm was tired and you refused to throw the ball anymore. As an old dog, he will chase it several times, then lay down for a rest....but after a few minutes, he brings the ball back, ready for more. He still gobbles up his food each morning and evening, and is more than happy to clean up any wayward food that falls off the table during dinner. For this, I am grateful. But though his activity is high and eating is fine, his bronchial symptoms continue to worsen.

Chris and I actually had "the talk" that I have been dreading this morning: at what point do you decide that you have to put on the brakes and say, "enough is enough" when it comes to vet treatment? When do you resolve that you just can't spend any more money in medical care for your much loved animal companion? I know that some people would say that there is no price too high for ensuring that a pet has any medical treatment in order to extend its life as long as possible (so long as the animal was not in pain, of course....though I am sure there are people who would keep an animal alive who was hurting for the selfish reason of not wanting to let it go yet.) I actually know someone right now who is paying a few thousand dollars for chemo treatments for their dog. However, we both agreed that we are not willing to go into debt to provide care for an animal that may not even be successful. We will do what we can, within reason, but can't justify spending tremendous amounts of money for an aging animal without any guarantees of success.

To top things off, in the past few months, we have spent about $1,100 in bills for Dempsey. He had two dental surgeries that amounted to about $900, and his treatments for his bronchitis have been about $200 so far, just for vet visits and medicine. The next step will be Xrays and then God-only-knows-what. I have tried to explain to Dempsey that for what he has cost us the past few months, he at least owes us another few years. He hacks at me in return.

This morning as I was getting ready for work in my bedroom, Maggie was sitting on the floor petting Dempsey. He was wheezing and gagging, and she said to me, "Dempsey doesn't feel very good, does he?" I said, "no sweetie, he doesn't." She then asked, "when is he going to get better?" I truthfully said, "I don't know, Maggie. I hope soon, but he may not get better either." We then talked for a little bit about the fact that Dempsey was sick and didn't seem to be getting any better, and that the medicine the doctor gave him doesn't seem to be helping. She looked at me morosely, and said, "Is Dempsey going to die?" I told her that I didn't know, and that I hoped not, but only God knew that for sure. She looked a little dejected, but didn't say anything and just continued to pet Dempsey. I then walked in the bathroom to continue getting ready.

I ran the blow dryer on my hair for a few minutes, then when I turned it off, I heard her talking softly from the bedroom. "Are you talking to me?" I asked her. "No," she replied, "I'm talking to God. I'm asking him to get Dempsey better." Talk about a lump in my throat.....

I hope God's not too busy today to hear a few prayers about an old dog that one family isn't ready to let go of just yet.


Anonymous said...

the short reply is the circle of life just SUCKS!! Almost everyone who has been a pet lover has a story about the most wonderful pet they have ever owner, I do believe the Blue Mound Branch of the Hale Family will have a lot of stories, for a long time to come, of the best Boxer they ever ha din their family. Now, let's talk about passing gas, let's face it, that dog could make Eddie Murphy and the Nutty Professor blush. I'm signing Anonymous because I keep forgetting my log in, Papadale

Anonymous said...

Julianne's friend, Jacquelyn, here. This is a timely post for me. Today we found out that our 18 month old Golden Retriever is going to need her SECOND knee surgery. First it was the right knee, now the the tune of $1800 less than 6 months. Whether or not to do the surgery really isn't even a question...she still has a long life ahead of her. But I'm still having thoughts of how much do you spend on a pet? Like you said, when do you reach the point of putting on the brakes? We aren't there yet. She will have the surgery on Monday and we'll cough up the money again. One look into her sweet face and I know that I won't let her hobble around on three legs for the rest of her lige. It's weird though because what was her "bad" knee 3 days ago is now her "good" knee. Anyway, best of luck with your dog...I know how tough decisions can be when you weigh out the financial burden versus quality of life.

Julianne said...

Poor sweet Dempsey. I hope he gets better soon and gives you and the girls a couple more years.

Becky said...

Thanks for your responses all . . .I will let you know how he progresses.