Monday, January 26, 2009

How do you put a price tag on a life?

This is my dog, Sebastian.
Poor guy had a paw injury and wouldn't stop licking it. I'll let you imagine all the damage he did to the house with this thing on.
Patiently letting me snap away with the camera.
Playtime with his sister.
A visit to a girl scout troop to teach them about dog manners and what therapy dogs do.

On Sunday morning I noticed my big ol' dog limping. Then I noticed he had a fever. Then I noticed a lump on his front leg, where what a human would call, the knee. There really wasn't much we could do, it didn't seem like an emergency, so we waited it out. He didn't seem in pain, but he's a tough and stubborn guy, so who knows.

I had class this morning, so DH took the morning off and took Sebastian into the vet. I may as well missed both classes, as I don't think I really heard the teachers. I called DH after my first class and he had just left the vets. My favorite vet had the day off, so he saw another one. She kept Sebastian to do blood work and x-rays.

The blood work was ok. The x-rays were inconclusive. There is something wrong, but they could not tell what. It may be an infection or it may be bone cancer.

He also has lost 12 pounds in the last 4 months. They actually weighed him 3 times and tested the scale with another dog.

He's a very big dog, with lots of hair, so it's hard to tell if he has a weight change.

This is a dog who used to be a therapy dog. He would go to schools and visit nursing homes and cancer patients. He is so sweet.

We rescued him from our local Humane Society. He was an adult, but nobody know how old he was. Everyone guessed around 3. That was 5 1/2 years ago. So, he's around 8 1/2, which is pretty old for a Great Pyrenees.

Gosh, I'm rambling.

Anyways, after spending all day googling Osteosarcoma, it really looks like it's very possible that he has it. Bone Cancer.

The treatment? You start by amputating the leg, then doing chemotherapy. You might get another year of life by doing this.

The question is, is that worth it? Chemo isn't exactly fun. Do we put him through all that, just to spend a few more months to a year with him????

Then we have to consider the cost. Obviously we are willing to spend money on him. And if there was a guarantee on the time we would get with him, it wouldn't be so hard. But we don't even know if it will work. Bone cancer spreads very quickly, it may be too late already. We can make the finances work, without using credit cards. Our cards won't get paid off in the time frame we have. We would use the money that we are currently using for extra credit card payments for his treatment. Our emergency fund will already be depleted by the end of this month. We bought the new TV, I sent $500 to my mom to help with medical expenses, today's vet trip was $272 and Fridays vet trip will be $360.

I will have more answers on Friday. They are doing the biopsy then. A bone biopsy. A very painful process with lots of healing time.
Of course we won't have the results yet, but I will have a huge list of questions for the vet. We weren't exactly prepared for cancer questions this morning.

I'm supposed to be doing homework right now. I don't think it's going to get done.


jaime said...

First, I'm really sorry about your dog. That is a horrible decision to have to make.

I have a friend whose dog was diagnosed with bone cancer last year. I'm not sure if he had to do chemo, but they did amputate his leg. And now? He's doing GREAT. Apparently, dogs can adapt really well to having a missing limb.

I wish you peace with whatever decision you come to. Just know that whatever you do, it's the best you can for him.

ANovelMenagerie said...

If you can manage the expenses... go forward withe the amputation. I don't know about how the chemo will affect him... I'm not a doctor. But, most dogs do really good after a 1-leg amputation. Getting another year with him will mean the world to you. I can feel through your post that you're not ready to let him go!

Bree said...

What a tough decision to make. Its obvious you care greatly for your pet. Personally, I would have to first weigh the financial part because obviously we are not rich. If that doable, then if the operation isn't successful, will I regret having put him through it and the cost involved. Then as a family, will everyone be able mentally/emotionally to handle whichever decision you make. So many things to think about.

He's adorable but you're right, he is old. I've had to make a decision like this before and its not easy. Good luck.

P.S. is the sister an Akita? I used to have a houseful of them.

april ziegler said...

I'm so sorry! What a painfully tough decision. I don't have an answer for you, but I hope that you receive positive news on Friday.

Amanda said...

O my gosh. I don't know what I would do in your situation! What an adorable dog. I just hope you can make a decision which is best for all of you.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for all your kind words! It's just so unexpected, but I guess that's how cancer is. It makes for some very quick thinking and decision making.

I'm all for having a dog with 3 legs, I hope that's all we have to do. He's pretty stubborn and not a complainer, so I'm sure he would adjust well.

Bree, yes, Angel is an Akita. I'll have to do some posts on her sometime. Quite the handful! In fact, if and when we do lose Sebastian, I think it will affect her the most. Akitas do not do well with change, and Sebastian was here before she was.