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Grind

A moral dilemma or anthropomorphic bollocks?

Actually, there are probably more than two approaches to this, but you'll get my drift fairly quickly.

Some of you may remember that we lost our younger border collie, Annie, to seizures (probably brought on by unwanted stuff going on in her brain) earlier in the year.

The vets didn't think there was much that we could realistically have done beyond using medication in an attempt to keep the seizures a manageable distance apart - in the end, this wasn't possible and we were lucky that she always seemed to be a happy dog (when she wasn't having a seizure, obviously) right up until the very end, which, though an extremely stressful evening, certainly wasn't as bad as it could've been for both humans and dog alike. She essentially went into a doggy coma and we were advised to put her to sleep. Which we grudgingly did.

There was a bitch giving birth to puppies in the same area where Annie passed. Cycle of life and all that. Fair enough, I suppose.

Our older border collie, Meisie, is now running into problems - she has a lump in her neck (which she's had for a while - at least two years - initially identified as a fairly common sebaceous gland issue) which has just now been determined (by CAT scan - irony?!) to include a cancer in the thyroid area.

Bollocks.

My dilemma, such as it is, surrounds what to do next.

The old girl is thirteen and a half, but is still pretty active (if not quite as fast as she used to be) and is a healthy weight. Possibly even a bit skinny - as she has been her entire life.

In an ideal world, the cancer can be cut out (it is apparently a good candidate for surgery, even if it is very close to many of the body's business bits) and, should any cancer cells remain or are subsequently spotted, they might be addressed by radiation and/or possibly chemo therapies.

No guarantees, but this might work and Meisie might get a few more years.

Money isn't strictly an issue (we don't have kids - it could be argued that the dogs ARE our kids), but I'm very conscious that any money spent represents an awful lot of potential assistance to other people/animals/whatever.

Harsh logic says something along the lines of, "She's only a fecking dog - you can always go and get another one, you soppy get."

We have already spent roughly $1500 to get to where we are - i.e. to confirm that the dog definitely has an identifiable cancerous growth in her throat/thyroid area (for now, it does not seem to have spread elsewhere - that was the purpose of the CAT scan) and we are now waiting to see the surgeon to see what he reckons.

The oncology vet thinks that she would last at most six months without any intervention because of the pressure in the neck and the possibility it might spread elsewhere. He also reckons a couple of more years might be realistically possible if the cancer can be removed or at least mitigated.

I am certainly in two minds on all of this.

Meisie is a fairly sensitive soul, but, like most animals, she is likely to try to hide discomfort since that's what makes total sense from her animal hardwiring. There would be telltale signs if she wasn't happy, but....

I know we humans often go to ridiculous lengths to keep each other alive - often when letting people go would seem to be far more humane (that's another thread?!), but I'm fighting competing internal demons to know what I should do that is best for my dog and not just me being purely selfish in looking to extend her existence.

As of now, if the surgeon has confidence in their ability to remove the growth and this involves only moderate, but short term pain for Meisie, then I think I'm okay with that.

I really don't like the idea of follow-up radiation or chemotherapy, even though the latter, in particular, is supposedly easier for dogs than humans.

Obviously we could do nothing.

I wondered if any of you have had to deal with similar pet issues and whether you think you eventually made the right decision, however tough? *

* I reserve the right to totally ignore any advice, but simply typing this out has probably helped me think some stuff through.

Grind

Not strictly relevant to the argument above, but Meisie is the first dog I've ever owned.

We bought a house specifically so that I could finally get to own one - I'd always wanted a border collie after watching John Noakes get the run around by Shep on Blue Peter.

Not the best reason to get a dog, kids.
Cutsyke

Are you happy with your vet? I'd give the op a go. She could have a few more good quality years in her yet. Beautiful dog by the way. You could catch it on time and life will be great for all. My neighbor has a Westie, it's 16 and until the past year a picture of health. Good luck.
Grind

I'm happy with the oncology vet - but have not met the surgeon as of yet, but will hopefully get a good vibe.

I just did some back-of-the-envelope calculations and, simply because I've been fortunate enough to do most of my "work" from home and the wife tends to travel, I think that I've spent more time in the company of this dog than any human. Ever.

Thanks for the kind words.

She is a sweetheart - I'm going to take her out for an hour or so to tour the neighbourhood right now!
Plastic Man

I'm very sorry to hear this.

For what its worth, I think having the initial surgery is a reasonable approach, and if things go well, it will extend her lifespan considerably beyond the currently anticipated six months, with Meisie in fine fettle.

If things unfortunately don't go as hoped, I wouldn't recommend radiotherapy or chemotherapy. She'd probably spend whatever (if any) additional time that was gained feeling pretty shit due to treatment, and you feeling shit through the guilt of putting her through it.
Grind

Plastic Man wrote:
I'm very sorry to hear this.

For what its worth, I think having the initial surgery is a reasonable approach, and if things go well, it will extend her lifespan considerably beyond the currently anticipated six months, with Meisie in fine fettle.

If things unfortunately don't go as hoped, I wouldn't recommend radiotherapy or chemotherapy. She'd probably spend whatever (if any) additional time that was gained feeling pretty shit due to treatment, and you feeling shit through the guilt of putting her through it.


That is where I think my head is too. Quality of life - hers, not mine - is important.

If nothing else, removal of the offending lump will give her some breathing room, both figuratively and, well, actually.
Frazier Cranium

I can't help but as PM says, I'm sorry about this too, not an easy time.
smiling badger

Go for the op and see how things go, especially if money isn't a problem.  Fingers crossed you will have many more years ahead together.  
Good luck mate.
sheeps

On the other hand...


We have twice put dogs through 'treatments' for cancer and it was not good, either for the dogs or for us to witness.

Dear old sheeps had several courses of chemotherapy, he survived a further 8 months or so with a less than splendid quality of life.

Coco had a leg amputated and seemed to take it all in her exhuberent stride, but not for long enough.

Kizi, well, Kizi...

Big healthy animal who one day found it impossible to jump in the back of the car following a visit to the park. Next morning could not stand up, visited our vet who suggested a scan [trip to Donny], nothing doing so he suggested an MRI [trip to Derby], nothing doing. Brought her home and called out the vet the following morning to put her to sleep.

I was not party to some of the above decisions with the dogs and it has left one or two sad memories of our well loved pets.

So in a nutshell, I would never put Mags, the current love of my life, through any similar experience. It seems to me a well worn path is planned out for our sick pets by veterinary surgeons to milk every pound [of the many thousands] of pet insurance money they can between them before the inevitable.

We loved our dogs with a passion, still do. It's hard enough when then they go, I will not make the same mistake again.

Sorry about this G man but there are two ways this can go.
sheeps

She is a stunning dog by the way.
Grind

sheeps wrote:
On the other hand...


We have twice put dogs through 'treatments' for cancer and it was not good, either for the dogs or for us to witness.

Dear old sheeps had several courses of chemotherapy, he survived a further 8 months or so with a less than splendid quality of life.

Coco had a leg amputated and seemed to take it all in her exhuberent stride, but not for long enough.

Kizi, well, Kizi...

Big healthy animal who one day found it impossible to jump in the back of the car following a visit to the park. Next morning could not stand up, visited our vet who suggested a scan [trip to Donny], nothing doing so he suggested an MRI [trip to Derby], nothing doing. Brought her home and called out the vet the following morning to put her to sleep.

I was not party to some of the above decisions with the dogs and it has left one or two sad memories of our well loved pets.

So in a nutshell, I would never put Mags, the current love of my life, through any similar experience. It seems to me a well worn path is planned out for our sick pets by veterinary surgeons to milk every pound [of the many thousands] of pet insurance money they can between them before the inevitable.

We loved our dogs with a passion, still do. It's hard enough when then they go, I will not make the same mistake again.

Sorry about this G man but there are two ways this can go.


Sorry to hear that.

I had a suspicion that others might not be very enthusiastic about these treatments - hence my reluctance to automatically give the green light to anything beyond "comparatively safe and routine" surgery.

Much like in yourcase, the surgery/oncology unit is also sixty or so miles from home and the traffic is often painful. Two hours to get there is considered normal anywhere around regular office hours.

The dog has been car sick both times we've been down and she hasn't had any treatment as of yet - I assume she'd be feeling like a total bag of shite if she were also on chemo.

I didn't mention a fourth option (besides straight removal, radiation and chemo) that was offered that seems totally bonkers - a radioactive isotope of iodine can apparently be introduced in some cases, but this means the dog becomes radioactive and has to be kept on site (in Tennessee!) for at least a couple of months and can't be handled. A half-life indeed.

Feck that!

Oh well, I shouldn't beat myself up after I've made the decision.

I just hope it's the best one for the dog.
fartcatcher

Our dog's about 14 now and I guess she's got canine dementia. She doesn't see or hear well and gets very confused. She's shat on the kitchen floor a couple of times.
She's fine as long as we stick to a routine, but anything unusual happens she's likely to get distressed.

About a year ago she some sort of paralysis and lost the use of her back legs. We thought that was it, but the vet said this happened with old dogs that had arthritis, and weak back muscles. He gave her some wonder drug that got her going again. I wouldn't mind some actually.

She's had a good innings (as they say in the movies). If she developed a serious illness or was obviously in pain, we'd probably have her put down.
Heyho

Cooper is the first dog I've had after constant nagging from Mrs H to get one.

We have had him four years last week from a pup.

I think I would be inclined to try whatever you can but make sure that you are happy that it is not suffering at all. That would be wrong.

I got quite attached to one of the kids rabbits a few years ago (a big French Lop the size of a cat) and when that became ill I gave the vet the chance to do surgery on her. Still fucking died like on the operating table but at least I felt I had given it a chance

At the end of the day pets are pets 'cos we want them. A bit like wives.
Dock

Sorry to hear this Grind. I was going to say Sheeps is the go-to-guy on this subject but he posted before I could. As soon as I read it I thought of the predicaments he told me about with the original Sheeps.

As you mentioned I hope that posting about this has been cathartic for you mate. Don't know what to advise. I'm sure you and Mrs G will do the right thing...whatever it is.

PS Great pic. Bonnie dog!
sheeps

Good luck with it which ever way you decide.

*says a little doggie prayer*
Late Doors

sheeps wrote:
On the other hand...


We have twice put dogs through 'treatments' for cancer and it was not good, either for the dogs or for us to witness.

Dear old sheeps had several courses of chemotherapy, he survived a further 8 months or so with a less than splendid quality of life.

Coco had a leg amputated and seemed to take it all in her exhuberent stride, but not for long enough.

Kizi, well, Kizi...

Big healthy animal who one day found it impossible to jump in the back of the car following a visit to the park. Next morning could not stand up, visited our vet who suggested a scan [trip to Donny], nothing doing so he suggested an MRI [trip to Derby], nothing doing. Brought her home and called out the vet the following morning to put her to sleep.

I was not party to some of the above decisions with the dogs and it has left one or two sad memories of our well loved pets.

So in a nutshell, I would never put Mags, the current love of my life, through any similar experience. It seems to me a well worn path is planned out for our sick pets by veterinary surgeons to milk every pound [of the many thousands] of pet insurance money they can between them before the inevitable.

We loved our dogs with a passion, still do. It's hard enough when then they go, I will not make the same mistake again.

Sorry about this G man but there are two ways this can go.


That is one of the finest things ive seen on here sheeps and I know it cant have been easy. All the best G. I have nothing more to offer other than sympathy and understanding.
Late Doors

Heyho wrote:


At the end of the day pets are pets 'cos we want them. A bit like wives.


'Cept you don't have to cuddle a dog afterwards, err according to what i have heard around here. Just a bowl of water and a pat
sheeps

fartcatcher wrote:
Our dog's about 14 now and I guess she's got canine dementia. She doesn't see or hear well and gets very confused. She's shat on the kitchen floor a couple of times.
She's fine as long as we stick to a routine, but anything unusual happens she's likely to get distressed.

About a year ago she some sort of paralysis and lost the use of her back legs. We thought that was it, but the vet said this happened with old dogs that had arthritis, and weak back muscles. He gave her some wonder drug that got her going again. I wouldn't mind some actually.

She's had a good innings (as they say in the movies). If she developed a serious illness or was obviously in pain, we'd probably have her put down.




Have you been looking at my medical records?
carp

We have had to make similar choices a few times. I am not ashamed to say that cost may come into the decision depending on the likely quality of life and longevity following treatment.

I honestly think this is a decision that can only be made by the owner.

We have a 16 year old Westie. She is blind, deaf and senile. She pees and craps indoors now. She gets lost in the garden, gets stuck in corners of rooms and sleeps a lot. But she is not in obvious pain, appears content, eats well and responds to affection. We hope that she will just fall asleep one day. If she becomes unsettled or looks to be in pain we will make the decision we believe is correct.

My 3 year old collie is going strong. Had a massive scare with him last winter but that is a long story for the pub rather than here.

All the best G........Tough call
Grind

carp wrote:
We have had to make similar choices a few times. I am not ashamed to say that cost may come into the decision depending on the likely quality of life and longevity following treatment.

I honestly think this is a decision that can only be made by the owner.

We have a 16 year old Westie. She is blind, deaf and senile. She pees and craps indoors now. She gets lost in the garden, gets stuck in corners of rooms and sleeps a lot. But she is not in obvious pain, appears content, eats well and responds to affection. We hope that she will just fall asleep one day. If she becomes unsettled or looks to be in pain we will make the decision we believe is correct.

My 3 year old collie is going strong. Had a massive scare with him last winter but that is a long story for the pub rather than here.

All the best G........Tough call


Appreciate that, thanks.

I drove down to see the surgeon yesterday - he seemed a thoroughly competent sort - and Meisie will, unless something happens to change my mind, go under the knife next Friday.

The tentative estimate for the procedure (i.e. before any aftercare, which might include "other" not inexpensive cancer therapies) is $3500.

Ouch!

I have always been of the mindset that money is, well, only money (which I fully appreciate is an easy approach to take when you have the stuff) but there is still the nagging thought in the back of my mind that I'm being foolish.

Specifically, I have brought ten or so otherwise healthy dogs up from "kill shelters" in the South to be adopted up here in New Hampshire. This costs about $100 an animal, but, as with all things, you can't do absolutely everything or absolutely nothing would get done.

$3500 would save 35 dogs/puppies which, through no fault other than an accident of geography, would be put down just to free up temporary room for more of the same.

Even the $100 above might seem obscene to some: I just heard on the radio that most Haitians (barely) survive on $2 a day.

Life. There's a lot to think about, eh?
Grind

One more sleep to the op.

She spent most of the day with me in the yard (aka garden) catching frisbees while I mowed the lawn and/or picked up the first batch of "fall" leaves.

Seemed fine to me.

* Worries. *
Grind

Quick update!

She's out and in recovery and I should be able to pick her up sometime tomorrow - supposedly the op went as well as could be expected (the tumour didn't seem to be invading the trachea or oesophagus and was essentially a "separate" mass) but only time will tell for sure.

Don't count your Chickenleys before they, errrr.....

* Gips *
Late Doors

Been thinking of you both actually, got everything crossed.
Plastic Man

Great news that it doesn't appear to have been invasive. I'm guessing, but I wonder if they might suggest a short cycle of chemotherapy to mop up any potential remaining cells? If so, allowing for some short term discomfort, I wouldn't dismiss that out of hand.

Paws crossed!
Grind

She's home now, but very sleepy (it'll be the drugs!) and is not allowed to do pretty much anything for a couple of weeks at least. They even want her confined to a crate or a small room for the duration.

That's one sure way to totally piss off a Border Collie.

Perhaps I've simply been lucky, but, at least compared to the "people" doctors I've interacted with here, the vets have been remarkably empathetic and, unless I'm mistaken, thoroughly competent.

The bill even came in under their lowest estimate (paid upfront), so I got a Brucey Bonus repayment.

The surgeon and oncologist are in separate wings of the same building - they said that they might want to do some work removing anything that might remain - probably more likely through radiation than chemotherapy?

Thanks for putting up with my incoherent ramblings on here.

With luck, I'll be able to ramble with the dog instead soon....
carp

All sounds positive. Please pass on my best woofs.
Dock

Good to hear she's got through it all G-Man! Nice one! All you have to get through now is Christmas with you're Griswald in-laws. Give her a big bone...but not in the Chickenley sense of the word!
Grind

The vet wanted me to shoot them the odd email with updates as to how she is doing.

The Grindstress just gave me a hard time for one sentence:

"She has been "regular" in terms of her bowel movements since Sunday. Not too firm, not too soft - the sort Goldilocks might approve of if the bears ran out of porridge."

FFS! I was talking about the dog!
sheeps

Great to hear, onwards and upwards.
Grind

She still seems to be doing okay (and, with that zipper down her throat, doesn't need a Halloween costume) and is scheduled to get her sutures removed on Thursday.

The oncology dude seems to think that they did successfully remove a huge gob of cancer, but there is the suggestion that there might be a vascular component as well.

Which, unfortunately, seems to be vet speak for, "She still has it in her system and it could reappear almost anywhere at any time."

The poor old girl also seems to have reduced kidney function, which might be another reason she's on the skinny side.

Feck!

I think it was still absolutely the right thing to remove the thyroid/lump from her neck - I'm sure it has bought her some time, even if it might not end up being that long - but I don't think it's fair to put her through radiation and/or chemo going forward from here so I will investigate the "palliative" route (steroids and the suchlike) to keep her as comfortable as possible for as long as possible.

I do think that the cancer that was removed took a long time to get to the size it did, so maybe anything else that might come along could also be slow moving?

Hope so - she's a good doggie.

Yes she is.
carp

Quite a lot of homeopathic stuff out there too. All about quality of life. 👍
sheeps

How is she?
Grind

I think she's doing well as of now - I was a bit concerned that she was in deep trouble a week or so back, hence my lack of posting about her.

She had a couple of (small) seizures before going to get her sutures out and then picked up a second UTI, which has since cleared up with medication.

She's still a bit "weird" about going for walks - she turns around to go home by herself, which never used to happen - but she has also been putting on a little weight, which was needed.

Not sleeping quite as much and is happy to chase frisbees. More smiley than grumpy too?

I'm basically keeping an eye on her to see how she does and will play it by ear.

Obviously seizures can just happen, but when you know cancer has recently been in play, it does get you worried, especially as her calcium levels seem relatively normal.

Still, she's the right side of the grass and seems fairly cheerful and glad to be around and not in any obvious pain.

I could ask for more, but I'll take what we have considering some of the alternatives.

I love this fecking dog. She's a good 'un.
Dalek

Don't focus on the negative aspect.
She probably turns around when she gets to the edge of her "safe" zone.

Play frisbees a little more - or any other plaything for variety (yours as much as hers) - in her safe zone for a short while, then gradually extend her zone as she continues recovering.  i.e. throw the frisbee beyond her safe zone after a few safe throws. in the meantime, she is getting the exercise needed.

It is difficult to guess animal psychology, especially for those close to the animal.

Try it bit by bit and see what happens.

If she is still uncomfortable outside her zone, the worst thing that can happen is that you have to fetch the frisbee for yourself!

Gauge her reaction - and encourage her to come with you to fetch the frisbee if that happens...

Remember, animals somehow seem to sense the attitude of their owners - if you are confident, they will feed off this.

The day will come when there is no longer a problem. Don't rush it - be patient, even if you "fetch the frisbee more times than you anticipate"

Give it a go and see what happens.

I hope all goes well.
sheeps

Me too.
Late Doors

Im routin all the way for the gal but sadly have to report an unfortunate side issue. I seem to have started rubbing MrsD's hair and telling her that "she's a good girl, yes she is"  everytime she does something good or nice. I fear it may cost me more than I bargained for if it goes on much longer.
Grind

Late Doors wrote:
Im routin all the way for the gal but sadly have to report an unfortunate side issue. I seem to have started rubbing MrsD's hair and telling her that "she's a good girl, yes she is"  everytime she does something good or nice. I fear it may cost me more than I bargained for if it goes on much longer.


It'll end with you going on long romantic walks in the country.

On a leash.
sheeps

Late Doors wrote:
Im routin all the way for the gal but sadly have to report an unfortunate side issue. I seem to have started rubbing MrsD's hair and telling her that "she's a good girl, yes she is"  everytime she does something good or nice. I fear it may cost me more than I bargained for if it goes on much longer.



There goes the dog thing again.
Grind

A wife is for life, not just for cooking Christmas dinner.
Grind

I was going to say, "A bird is for life, not just for stuffing at Christmas!" but that would have been audubonist.
Grind

And some people prefer ham.
carp

We have pork. Is that turkeyist?
Grind

carp wrote:
We have pork. Is that turkeyist?


I don't know, but Auntie Semitic would probably approve.
Grind

So far so good.

This is as clean as she gets - just out of the bath and ready to roll in some deer scat.

Grind

That's her "Stop taking photos and throw the fucking frisbee!" face.
sheeps

Beautiful.

Well done that man, and dog.
carp

Grass needs a cut.
Grind

carp wrote:
Grass needs a cut.


Good point - I'll do it on Monday.
carp

Grind

Might have to wait until tomorrow - we just had a couple of inches of snow delivered.
carp

Picture?
Grind

The one of the dog was taken on Friday - New England weather is quite variable this time of year,,,,

carp

Nice squirrel
Grind

Quite rare for there only to be the one and that the ongoing turf war between the greys and the reds isn't on full display.

The one problem with the bird feeders is that, well, they double up as, errr, bird feeders - we have a red tailed hawk that likes to snack on any unsuspecting chickadees.
carp

Cool - Nature innit
carp

BTW, 15/10 for squirrel spot?
Grind

There's definitely a grey boid on the left hand birdfeeder to the right of the tree as well.

Probably a house/tree sparrow or a chickadee, but we had some weird little black jobs with white chests hopping around earlier that I wasn't entirely sure about.

I know all the birding lingo, me.

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