So many things are running through my mind as I try to choose a course of action for Tsisdu. She was six months old when I adopted her as a rescue. She was happy and intelligent, like most heelers. She was also hiding a strange illness that caused a cyclical fever about every nine weeks. The day I brought Tsisdu home, she was coming out of that cycle and somewhat subdued. I was totally unprepared for the fireball that erupted a few days later. The name Tsisdu, the word for “rabbit” in Cherokee, came about because of her tall ears and the fact that she raced around the yard, jumping for joy, barking at anyone and anything. It took me months to stop her from leaping over every chain link fence down the block chasing the garbage truck. She is the smallest of my three dogs, at only 35 pounds, but she runs a tight ship. If she’s barking, the other two had better be barking too, or else. Tsisdu is fiercely protective; the reason for “Beware of Dog” signs on the fence. Her incredible intensity and profound loyalty make her one of the most challenging dogs I have ever owned, but also one of the most special. She has taught me how to love unconditionally, as she loves me.
I share this because it matters. How will she do with the weekly visits (30-90 minutes per visit) for treatment, for blood draws, for other procedures? She will have to be sedated to receive IV treatments—there is no way she could be still for that length of time. IV chemo treatments can cause tremendous damage to the skin and tissue surrounding the blood vessels if the line is dislodged. If I can’t manage the weekly appointments, she will have to be caged the entire day until I can pick her up. Will I be exchanging a poorer quality of life now for the chance of a prolonged one?
And what does it say about me as a vet if I choose not to pursue cancer treatment for Tsisdu? Am I killing my dog, giving up, setting a bad example? Am I saying I don’t support my fellow professionals or oncology as a discipline?
As a practicing veterinarian, I saw owners choose to subject their pets to painful diagnostic procedures, surgeries, extensive hospitalizations and experimental treatments out of their own grief or need to believe they had done everything they could to make the pet well again. I saw a few amazing recoveries as a result. I also saw pets suffer because of an owner’s need to keep them alive at all costs. I am determined to be the kind of owner that chooses what’s best for my dog, not what is best for me. What does that look like for Tsisdu? For me? I’m still not certain. I wish I didn’t have to choose at all.
A series of guest posts by: Delana Taylor McNac
To see the original post, go here.
Delana is a friend and we want to thank her for sharing this trying time with us. Please support her in this difficult trial. She is the founder of Pet Peace of Mind, an amazing organization that helps hospice patients keep their pets. We hope that her personal story can help others and also be a therapeutic tool for all of you who are facing a similar issue, pet related, or human related. If you would like to learn more about pet cancer, please go here.