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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

The Cost of My Dog’s Life, part 2

Updated: March 12th, 2020

In the last post, I blogged on what one can do to deal with the difficult financial issues attached to dog cancer care.  In this one, I would like to widen back, to help with some of the more personal issues about the subject.

To be sure, the real-world money issue is a basic, real one.  Yet, there is more to this story.  It involves your perspective, your viewpoint concerning treatment of canine cancer.

So many times the experiences we deal with are colored by the lenses through which we perceive the events at hand.  The color of these lenses influences what we experience.

So lets look at it a little, since we all want a better experience, regardless of the facts as they stand.

One way to shift the color of our lenses is by allowing ourselves to widen back.  It is so important, for a moment, to extract ourselves from discussions of the cancer, the odds, survival times, side effects, life quality, and age issues, at least temporarily.  In the pause we allow ourselves, we get a brief window to look at the bigger picture.

Sometimes we can lose sight of the forest for the trees.  The anguish that we feel when our loved canine family member has a life-threatening disease can be impossible to deal with .  I have had many dog lovers focus on the cost of care and torture themselves with guilt at being unable to afford it.

Many times what is really going on is that we just don’t want to lose someone we love.  It is that simple. We are not ready for this.  We don’t want this.

And in fighting this awful, sinking, desperate feeling, we look at the money stuff.  We focus on the costs instead of really letting the honest truth out.

For many this truth is, “No, not yet.  Not now. I am not ready for this to be happening.”

Does this sound familiar to anyone?  Thoughts like these sort of float around in our minds under the radar, and they color everything black.

Believe it or not, simply allowing the experience of the honest truth about how you feel can really ease the burden.  And the amazing thing is, sometimes you will get glimmers of grace in the middle of this darkness.

One definition of grace is “The exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor: disposition to benefit or serve another.”

We can always rely on one compass which will serve us in good stead in caring for another.  This compass is compassion.  I think it is pretty interesting that the word “compass” is in “compassion”.

When we just do what we can to exercise love, kindness, and mercy to our dogs, this compassion will lead us to happier days.  I am not talking about just thinking about it or talking about it to someone.  Instead, try taking time, on a regular basis, to do something.

Simple kind words, a loving massage, a bowl of (low sodium) chicken broth, a car ride to a sunny field, a home groom with a soft brush…all of these can help soothe both of you.

You and your loved dog.

Thinking of you,

Dr. Dressler

Leave a Comment

  1. Margaret on September 12, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Dear Dr. D – Thank you for your book. It has been an incredible compass for moving through the various aspects of this difficult process with my treasure, Smoky Mountain. Smoky is a terrier mix of Jack Russell and Lakeland, a very active 13 year old, who has a hard, small lump above his left eye brow. After 3 months of treatment for what was diagnosed as osteomellitis, we were referred to a vet specialist who advised it was likely a tumor and wanted to proceed to biopsy, MRI and surgical resection of his skull. (X-ray showed nothing; Aspirate showed high level of muco proteins consistent with tissue necrosis & tumor growth). Returned to senior vet at Smoky’s original clinic who tried to do a true cut biopsy but was not successful. He advised against drilling for biopsy and sent Smoky home with Tramadol and Rimadyl for pain and said this was likely osteo or fibrosarcoma. In the meantime, I researched & contacted biochemists working in this area, read your book, and immediately started Smoky on your diet (using bison, salmon, turkey, liver as protein sources), K9 immunity, transfer factors, fish oil, green tea extract, probiotic, indole 3…, mcp, parsley, curcumin (difficult to prepare). Smoky, who has always been a finicky eater has gained 1.5# in 2 months and the vet who sees Smoky every few weeks to drain the swelling around the lump says the inflammation is reduced based on the significant reduction in fluid (100cc down to 9cc) & reduced pain assessment at time of aspiration. I bought a copy of your book for my vet as he says he does not have time to keep up with all these things. He has been supportive of the regimen and gladly filled the script for doxycycline and inquires for updates on progress. I told the vet that I realize there is likely no single silver bullet, he responded that there may be many silver bullets in what you have recommended. I emailed the information to him on Quadramet as a pain option for Smoky but he had never heard of it. You state in your email that this is given by injection during a hospital stay – is there any other information on the practical administration of this pain medication to send to my vet on this? Also, I am going to sign up for the webinar for the Q&A opportunity this month. Overall, I am grateful to God for His grace and compassion in giving Smoky to me and also for His provision in using your information as an effective tool for navigating through this process. Thank you for providing a comprehensive handbook along with the key information updates that have been great equipping tools to move forward on! Best regards, Margaret (and Smoky)

  2. Valerie on September 9, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Thank you Dr. Dressler! I couldn’t have expressed tose sentiments better. I too agree about the grace and compassion we can feel once we can “see the forest…” Nonetheless, losing my best friend will plague me with dialy reminders. Her companion Lucy still sits outside and waits patiently for the return of her friend, though less frequenty with each passing day, thatnk G-d! I hope to be able to meet you in person the next time I visit Hawaii which I plan to do in two years after I complete my dissertation program.

    “Zy Gazunt”, which translates to “Be well” in Yiddish. Wishing you Happy Holydays that are upon us!


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