In so many ways this is a sad post. The end of life with your friend, family member, your companion.
After all the time together.
Systemic or aggessive cancers like lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, Grade 3 mast cell tumors, and others usually lead in the same direction.
This direction is the departure of your loved dog.
Until one of us creates a cure, we will be faced with a conflict during the departure time. The conflict is this: we have a desire to do something, but it is not what we know we must soon consider- euthanasia.
Many facing this grim reality have a sensation of being a bit trapped during these times, seeking some relief. Now what? I am not ready for the end but I know it is coming soon.
What if you can feel it is really soon? How do we make sure things are done properly before departure time?
In many cultures there are customs designed bring people through this period without regrets. We lack these in our culture, and certainly with our dogs.
So here is a new custom that I believe will accomplish this goal.
It is called the life story. I go into some detail in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, but here is the gist of it.
For a comprehensive guide to help your dog with cancer, get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide
First, block of some time in your schedule to just be with your dog. Maybe an hour, could be more, could be less. But give yourself some space. Turn off the phones and Blackberries™.
Next, simply tell your dog his or her life story. Start when you first met, and go all the way to the time you are sitting together. There will be a lot to it.
Go through all the ups and downs of your life, all the comings and goings. All the different people, places, other dogs or animals, emotions, finances, conflicts, success, failures…everything.
And with each thing, tell your dog what he or she did during that time.
Most importantly, and perhaps this should be the starting statement, thank your dog for everything he did for you. Express this out loud to her. Honor the gifts you received during your journey together, the gifts your loved dog bestowed upon you.
This is one way you can honor and mark your time together. Make sure your dog hears it before the leaving time is upon you.
At least, until you meet again!
I send my thoughts out to each of you.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.