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.