Persephone (Sephi) 2001-?
Lately have been posting on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Well, today is Tuesday but I just don’t have it in my heart to write a pet safety article, product review, or pet travel destination article. Today I am going to be selfish and write about my dog Sephi.
Sephi, short for Persephone, is a ten-year-old Chow/Shepherd/Labrador/Border Collie mix. And she is not doing very well right now. I took her to the vet yesterday because she was suddenly not eating and too weak and dizzy to move around. The vet suspected vestibular disease which has a variety of causes including an ear infection, cancer in the inner ear, or just some neurological problem that some older dogs tend to get for no medically known reason.
But after some blood tests, the vet found even more trouble. Her red blood cell count was extremely low. He recommended that I take her to an emergency clinic right away. I took Sephi to the closest clinic about 45 miles away. They ran more tests and provided some treatment which may help Sephi feel comfortable for a short time. The vet said that there could only be three reasons why Sephi’s red blood count was so low – bone marrow disease, cancer, or an auto-immune disease. None of these have simple treatments and none of them guarantee success. At Sephi’s age, her chances at any one of them is pretty low.
So I am faced with a very difficult decision. I have three choices. I can spend thousands of dollars running tests and hoping treatments work, I can put Sephi to sleep now, or I can try to make her as comfortable as possible until it is obvious that putting her to sleep is the right decision. Some people say you should do whatever it takes, spend whatever it takes, and do everything you can to help your dog get better. Other people don’t think it is a good idea to put themselves into serious debt for something that may or may not help. This is a difficult decision to make and I won’t begrudge anyone who chooses one way or the other.
I want to spend whatever it takes but the reality is that I don’t have whatever it takes. And there is the very real possibility that treatments won’t work or at best will only extend Sephi’s life for a couple of months. If I hope for the best and do whatever it takes to give Sephi a couple more month, am I really doing it for Sephi’s benefit or my own?
The first thing I would need to do is subject Sephi to a bunch of tests which will cost hundreds of dollars and she would have to spend most of her time in a strange place around strange people. Sephi is not at all comfortable in strange places and prefers to stay at home. It is likely that making her go through all this will stress Sephi out and make her illness progress faster.
If I do the tests and find that Sephi has bone marrow disease, then the only chance for possible success is to get a blood transfusion every few days or possibly weeks. It really depends on how fast her red blood cells are being depleted. This process is almost a thousand dollars each time. If Sephi has cancer, she will have to be subject to cancer treatment which probably won’t make her feel very good. And again, the chance for success is very small depending on the extent of the cancer. If Sephi has an auto-immune disease, then she will need to be put on steroid treatment which will suppress her immune system. This will make her very susceptible to any other kind of sickness. Even something as small as a skin infection can get out of control and turn deadly. Even then, the steroid treatment is not guaranteed to work for long.
Considering the extent of Sephi’s symptoms and behavior, the chance of her being recovered from any of these three things is extremely low. And treatment for any of these three carry risks and side affects which will likely make Sephi very uncomfortable. And all this is on top of the vestibular disease problem which may or may not correct itself. Do I try anyway and hope for the best? Or do I let her go to keep her from suffering? I wish she could tell me what she wants. And I wish I could explain her options to her so could understand what is happening to her.
When we were at the veterinary hospital last night, Sephi sort of helped me make the decision. She showed interest in the things going on around her and and perked up her ears when I said the words “cookie” or “outside”. So I have done one test and some treatment which seemed to help a little bit. She has some medications which will hopefully make her more comfortable. And in order to avoid the stress of being in a strange place, I took her home last night. Depending on how she does, I can take her in form more tests and more treatments later and only a little bit at a time so that she doesn’t have to spend days in strange company.
I will keep you posted on how things go. Please pray for my girl and hope that her last days are good ones.