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December 01, 2011

Member of the Family

By Elaine Viets
In the last ten days, our cat Mystery has been to the hospital twice.
She was unable to keep down her food.
On the first visit, the vet gave our ten-pound cat fluids for dehydration, blood tests and x-rays, and sent her home with metronidazole to settle her stomach. She seemed to improve for about a week, and then she got sick again. She put up a half-hearted fight and we took her back to the vet. He shaved her belly and gave her an abdominal ultrasound. She was injected with Vitamin B12, given antibiotics and more medication for her upset stomach.
Don and I brought her home last night. Mystery is a Chartreux, a show cat who was forced into retirement after she bit a judge. She’s used to making an entrance. Now she seems mortified by her shaved belly. She crawled under the dining room table and sulked.
I understood. I felt the same way after I left the hospital, but Don wouldn’t let me crawl under the table. I stayed in bed and sulked.
After all the tests, Mystery remains a mystery. We still don’t know exactly what ails her. We’ll get the results for her last blood test in about five days. The vet said she could have a number of things, many treatable. The worst possibility is cancer, but he said that could also be treated. She may need chemotherapy.
Yes, chemo. He also told us cats and dogs don’t get sick from it the way people do. So far, we’ve spent a healthy four figures on our eight-year-old cat. If you’re not an animal lover, we must sound like a pair of loonies. Even if you are, you must wonder.
My grandparents loved animals. Grandma Viets had a dog named Bing that could sing on command. I never met Bing, but I could tell by the stories Grandma was crazy about that mutt.
If she were alive, she’d think we were crazy about Mystery the cat. But not in a good way.
Sometime between my grandparents’ generation and mine, a line was crossed. Pets went from being "the animal in the house" to becoming "the member of the family."
I don’t think Mystery is human, or even equal to one.
I don’t roll her about in a stroller like a feline child substitute. I don’t buy her clothes. As you can see, she already has a fine fur coat.
But Mystery is a member of our household. I like her better than many people. She never disses the politicians I admire, gets drunk and tells me the truth about myself, or asks why I don’t learn to cook.
She is kind to Harry, our younger striped cat, and grooms him. Okay, she’s a lousy groomer. He looks like a punk rocker by the time she finishes making his fur stand up in every direction. But he adores her. He paced our condo and howled when she was in the clinic.
She’s a diversion. Whenever I have a heavy deadline, I can distract myself by playing with the cat.
She’s good exercise. I get to bend and stretch, picking cat hair off the couch and rugs.
She’s an inspiration: I write better when she sleeps by my computer.
This morning, Mystery refused to take her medicine. Don and I tricked her into swallowing her two pills, and she wasn’t happy. She’s spent the rest of the day hiding.
And we’ve spent the day thinking. So far, we can afford the luxury of cat companionship – and it is a luxury. If I had kids, I wouldn’t spend that money on a cat.
Another Missouri writer, Mark Twain, was a notorious cat lover. He wrote: "A home without a cat—and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat—may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?"Mark twain
We are now facing the possibility of a house that may be short a much-loved cat. How far will we go to keep Mystery alive? How far will she want us to go? How will she let us know?
These are questions with no easy answers.


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No, Elaine, there are no easy answers. Cancer sneaked into our beloved Ginger dog and we didn't even know she was sick until it was too late to save her - though we tried. We loaded the poor old dear into the truck (in front with us) and drove three and half hours to Medford, OR to a specialist. It was in her heart, liver, spleen and who knows where else. It was too late for chemo. It happened six months ago today - we had to let her go. At that time I would have done anything to save her. Now I'm thankful that I did not have the option of chemo. She was old and it would have made her last months a misery. I don't regret the four figures we spent though. She was worth so much more than money.

Oh, and I'm so sorry you are going through this now with your beloved Mystery. All you can do is all you can do. I hope there is a happy resolution.

On our way home from Medford we saw rainbows. I believe Ginger was wagging goodbye as she crossed the bridge.


I'm sorry to hear about Mystery. I hope it turns out to be something that can be fixed.

We adopted our basset hound, Winker, knowing that she had a pretty severe heart murmur, a missing eye and a pair of ears that never met a yeast infection they didn't like. We were told she probably would not live a full basset lifespan of 12 or so years.

She will be 8 next week and we have spent about $3,000 or so on her vet & medicine bills. Despite a very close run thing with her now enlarged heart last February, she is doing well. We spend $50.00 a month on her two types of pills, but they seem to be doing the trick.

We know she is living on borrowed time and we know that if a really expensive medical emergency comes up, we won't be able to handle it, but so long as we can afford to, we'll keep her as healthy as possible.

Animal companions make us better people and by Dog, I think that's a service worth paying for.

Aw, geez, Elaine, I'm sorry to hear about this. Been to the vet more times than I care to admit, and we don't discuss the ER Vet's office.

We'll keep a good thought for Mystery...:)

If Mystery will tolerate kisses, please kiss the top of his handsome head for me and tell him I hope he gets all better soon.

We recently lost our beloved cat, Cloud, and I did not seek medical help for her, but simply let her slide out of life. She was so affectionate with us, but so timid with strangers that I thought car rides and vet visits would traumatize her. We loved her a lot. I don't know if I made the right decision, but that's the decision I made.

A vet once told me that when the clients are gone, she and her fellow vets talk about the bind they're in: they think (some) pet owners are going too far and spending too much, but the vets feel constrained from saying so.

Mystery is in wonderful hands. You and Don will take good care of her, whatever you decide to do.

Tell "Her"and kiss "Her," I should have said! I beg your pardon, Ms. Mystery!

No, there are no easy answers. I have been there as well, with cats with kidney problems. The vet actually mentioned a kidney transplant, and I knew that would be going too far. But one needed IV fluids on a regular basis, which I learned to do and she learned to tolerate. We ran up some pretty big bills (like William, we won't discuss the ER vets). I had to constantly ask myself if we were making the best choices for her, rather than for me, and eventually the answer changed. I think you will know when you reach that point - or Mystery will let you know. I do hope though that you have good news, that it's something easily taken care of.

Elaine, hugs to you and good thoughts for Mystery. I was talking about my dogs, Nat and Pyxi, one day and someone said, "They're like family." "No, they are family," I replied. Like you, that's how my friends and I feel about the animals with whom we share our lives.

I'm lucky that my family includes a couple dozen marine mammals, some cats that live at work, tropical birds, even some chickens and peafowl.
We love them all.

One of our DRC cats is 20 years old and living on 1/3 of a working kidney. He's also pretty arthritic. Every office in our building has a cat bed. When the old man's on walkabout, if he gets tired, he is always mere steps away from a comfy place for a nap. He gets sub-Q fluids three times a week and is always so patient with us when we administer the treatment.

If Prince's quality of life was horrible and he was suffering, things would be different, but for now he's comfortable and content.

I've been through this with dogs at home. When my Moe's condition was gradually deteriorating, I promised him that I wouldn't let him suffer so that I could avoid the pain of saying goodbye. I trust my vet and knew that he would tell me when there was nothing more that we could do that would prolong Moe's life with quality. When that day came, the decision was painful, but one that could be made without question.

With Mystery, I believe you'll know. You'll see when measures to keep her alive will not mean a life of quality and comfort. Until then, how fortunate she is to have such a loving, caring family.

We've lost his brothers in recent years and it will be a sad, sad day when he leaves us, but until that day, we'll continue to provide whatever he needs

Been there, done that. Last week. Lost my beloved Bonnie to cancer. She died (well, we helped her to the Rainbow Bridge) 4 days after her ultrasound. It's almost as though she understood the diagnosis. Her sister underwent chemo for lymphoma three years ago. It wasn't nearly as expensive as I'd feared (about $500 for a three-month treatment) and she's still with us today.

I would gladly have paid many thousands of dollars to give Bonnie more time, but her cancer was too far gone.

I'm heartbroken. I wrote about her on the Cozy Chicks blog: http://www.cozychicksblog.com/2011/11/terrible-terrible-week.html

I totally agree with the statement "pets are family" and have always done everything I could to keep them well. My kitty Jasmine got sick in August of 2010 and we almost lost her. It turned out she was diabetic but needed a special kind of insulin not the usual. My regular vet didn't know what to do for her and I had to take her to a special veterinary hospital and they knew immediately how to treat her. It came with a hefty price tag - $5000 - but how do you evaluate the cost of a beloved member of the family? So Elaine ask them to be sure she isn't diabetic and also investigate if there is a hospital with specialists that could take a look at her. I never realized that Vets just like human doctors have different levels of expertise and knowledge and even though you may like the vet he may not have the qualifications necessary to treat her. Also it seems that many vets are much more knowledgeable about dog issues than cats. All the best,

I hope Mystery's mystery illness is solved, and successfully corrected. They just mean so much to us, don't they? I'm afraid to put a dollar figure to the vet bills, medicine and special foods we've had for our cats. Amalthea, possibly the sweetest cat ever, lived to be 22. She had a series of bladder infections over the course of several years and was eventually on a maintenance antibiotic. She was terribly thin, weighing less than 6 pounds, so we were always trying new foods to find something that appealed to her. I cooked chicken for her. I cooked hamburger, and we tried raw food, and half cooked, dry and canned and every flavor under the sun. We gave her a heated bed, which was the best purchase we ever made. She never seemed to be uncomfortable, but near the end she spent about 23 hours a day on that heated bed. At the end she developed one more infection and she seemed - different. It was the right time, and we took her to the vet to be euthanized.

Dempsey, on the other hand, was all charisma and affection. He was also quite hefty. He developed diabetes when he was eight and for five years our lives revolved around his schedule. Insulin shots twice a day, special diet, testing his blood - he rolled with it all and still loved us. One morning we woke up to his howling in pain, and found that he was unable to walk. It was an awful vet visit, and I still miss him, a dozen years later.

On the other hand, we had a doberman who ruptured a disk in her spine, was paralyzed from the neck down, and recovered without surgery. It meant a lot of adult diapers and carrying her around, but eventually Brandy was able to walk and play and run again. She lived happily for many years after that.

What a beautiful cat. I can only say that I'm sorry, and I sympathize. If the vet is unable to say what the problem is, hopefully it's nothing serious and Mystery will recover on her own. I've seen cats become terribly sick, for no known reason, and then suddenly recover and be just fine.

I've had pets (mostly cats) all my life, and in a way, dealing with their illnesses is even worse than when people get sick, because of the communication problems. It can be so hard to tell what they're thinking, and what they want you to do--or not do--with/to them.

Wishing her all the best.

I am so sorry for all of you. I understand that pets are part of the family, even though I've never had one.

No offense intended whatsoever, but I have noticed that, even in a recession, there are new pet care services opening and thriving. I'm sure that means something.

Even though some of your stories didn't have happy endings, they made me feel better. It helps to know that others have been through this.
No offense taken, Kathy. Some people just aren't pet lovers.
Mystery is sleeping in her favorite chair this morning after a bad night. We're still waiting for that blood test result.

I was adamant when we got our two cats, Laverne and Shirley (the Milwaukee names my husband wanted - I suggested Harley and Miller's, but he wasn't having it), that we would not spend a lot of money on them if they got sick. "They're pets," I said flatly. "They get shots. If they get really sick, well, we can pay our mortgage or we can pay the vet."

Then one day last year, Laverne, who is the biggest little piggy in the world and who starts reminding me at 3:30 every day that it's almost 5:00! It's almost time to eat! didn't remind me. And then when I put her food in the bowl, she stayed under the bed.

Something was very wrong.

My husband said we should wait a day or two, but I took her to the vet the next morning and handed him my Visa. "Fix my cat," I demanded. I didn't care how much it cost. I love that animal. She is the sweetest - albeit obnoxious at times - thing in the world, just a bundle of love and affection.

He just gave her a shot that cost $139 and she was fine. But I shudder to think what might happen to my bank account if she ever gets really sick.

I hope Mystery recovers quickly and inexpensively.

I am so sorry - I hope all will turn out for the best. I have had my share of heartbreak and even had to run into debt to have my horse have surgery. What can you do? There's no way I would let any member of my family go without medical care and love. Right now living with us we have a cat who lost both his hind legs to an accident - we're trying to come up with creative ways to help him walk better (even down to massaging his stumps with vitamin E)and am going to research some other kind of solution. After all, love has nothing to do with 'hairiness' and oh boy do I love them all, two-legged, four-legged and winged creatures (and oh, my husband too!)


A friend has worked for several vets. I'm shocked and appalled at how much money they extract from the human "family" members to eke out a few more months of life for the pets.

I get the companionship thing; pets are so important to many people, including very close (human) family members. But just because you can spend thousands of dollars on the care of an animal doesn't mean you should. My best friend's adorable 14-year old beagle just passed away. Six months ago the vet wanted her to spend $12,000 on a procedure to prolong her life, combined with a procedure to make her stop lurching around like a drunk. That is just crazy talk, I'm sorry.

My feeling is that vets, despite the comment above about worrying about feeling "constrained", give their clients no option but to fork over the moolah, and they feel no compunction whatsoever about guilting out the pet owner.

My apologies if this steps on anyone's toes. But there seems to be a real need for common sense in the world, and not just for pets. Giving Grandma operations that cost in the tens of thousands, even though she's 90, is a correlation of the same issue. Just because we can does not mean we should.

PS Elaine, I wish the best for Ms. Mystery, and hope that she lives an additionally long and happy life.

Elaine, the best to Mystery, and you, Don, and Harry from me and my benevolent feline overlords. I hope you find out good news soon.

The thought that we're being "played" by the vet has crossed my mind, Karen. Is there anything we can do to make sure his not just planning a vacation in Aruba?

er, that's "he's" not "his."

Good question, Elaine. Just as I wonder how much of the expensive dental procedures I've had were really necessary.

Karen, a good vet, just like a good doctor or mechanic or whatever, would never do that. My vet is very honest about what's going on, and twice we have brought animals in and said we think it's time - even though it killed us, and even though the vet has said nothing about it being a terminal disease or illness - and he nodded his head and did the job. He would never try to talk us into doing expensive procedures just to make money.

When our dogs got attacked by another dog last Christmas Eve at 4:30pm, and we had to go to a vet we were unfamiliar with because ours was closed, yes, he charged us the $100 emergency fee, because he kept the office open for us, but he also spelled out three scenarios of treatment, how much each would cost, and let us choose what we wanted. Plus, he gave us extra antibiotics for the dog we didn't bring who had gotten injured as well, but we didn't know it until we had already gotten there (my daughter called us) - even though he's not supposed to medicate an animal he hasn't seen. I'd go back to him in a heartbeat.

Sure, there are unscrupulous vets who would prey on peoples' attachment and misery about their beloved pet, but that is hopefully the exception, not the rule. It's often the people who won't let the animals go, and think about themselves rather than the pet, and will go to any expense, far beyond reason.

Elaine, if you are suspicious as to whether your vet is trying to get money out of you, get a second opinion.

I'm so sorry about Mystery. I hope she has something easily and quickly curable, and is back to grooming Harry (badly) in no time.

Liza I would have to agree with you. It seems wrong that vets offer certain options. I will never forget taking my son's gerbil to the vet because it had developed a "lump". Standing in the vet's office with two very sad little boys and the vet is offering to do chemo. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.

Good thoughts for you guys and Mystery. I too hope the diagnosis is easily handled, and that life gets back to normal (or as normal as it can be with two cats) quickly. No matter what anyone tells us, our animals are part of the family. (And I truly want mine to be waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge). If you're not sure about your vet, do get a second opinion. We would recommend ours to anyone who asks. She was with us all the way through our Max's illness and passing, and our newest adoptee loves her and the vet techs as well. Hang in there, Elaine.

Elaine, I am so sorry that you have to go through this illness with Mystery.
I love her and she is so beautiful in the photo.
I know that you have a strong capacity for love and that whatever the outcome and I hope that she responds to the meds, Mystery will know that she is well cared for and loved.
All the Best.

Don has interviewed some vets who do low-cost work for poor families for his newspaper job. Maybe a second opinion before we go the surgery route is a good idea. Our cat seems to like this vet and the techs adore her, but I'd rather know for sure. No point in her getting unnecessary surgery.
Nora, chemo for a gerbil really does seem like crossing the line. Saying it in front of your children made it worse.

Elaine, I second Donna's comments about your vet, who is likely a caring, competent, ethical one, and not trying to rip you off, but perhaps doesn't have as much experience with the rare, oddball issues that cats (all species, really) can develop. Veterinarians are expected to be knowledgeable about at least the 3 most common pets (cats, dogs, rabbits), and many also will make a decent attempt to treat the simpler medical conditions of other rodents, guinea pigs, and birds. All these species have differing physiologies and varying medical problems, along with different nutritional needs, and reactions to drugs (and dosage issues). It is an immense amount of knowledge to gain (human doctors have it luckier with only one species), and this is why it is perfectly reasonable to both ask your vet how much he/she knows - and knows well - and how much experience the have with less common medical problems that your pet might have. Chances are that your vet will be upfront and admit that a second opinion could be helpful, and if he/she doesn't, it better be because they are a boarded specialist in internal medicine, or oncology, or whatever the particular medical condition the animal has. If that's not the case, and the idea of you seeking a second opinion is dismissed with "I've seen lots of cases like this and you'd just be wasting your time and money," that's when you can starting thinging less than trusting things about your vet. Those who can't admit that they don't know everything, and that they might be wrong, when there's a question about any creature you hold dear (human, dog, cat, gerbil, any creature whose life matters to you - not someone else, but you) are those you walk away from.

However, assuming that all vets are waking up every morning with the idea of ripping off everyone who walks through their doors is really .... wrong (had to stop myself from being rude, myself). Yes, there are individual vets who suck in many ways (there are a number in my area, who, if my dog was hit by a car in front of their clinic, I wouldn't go in to ask for help), but most of them are good people, doing a job with lots of ups and downs, just like the rest of us - oh, and they have to watch animals die, up close and personal, which is no picnic, too.

It would be a good idea if you asked the vet to explain what the blood test is for (specifically), and why does it take so long to get an answer (was it sent far away, and why), and to find out if the ultrasound was inconclusive, was it because of image problems (too much gas/fat/other reasons), or because he/she isn't as experienced in reading them (many vets don't get lots of cases that need or get US, and getting better at it requires more views. Did they keep any digital images that another vet could look at (although another vet will want the most up-to-date info, so would do new ones), to see if something can be seen by other eyes? You didn't mention 'plain' x-rays. Did they show anything? I would suggest more, expanded communication with your vet, and a second opinion, hopefully with a referral, indicating that your vet is one of the majority of the good ones.

Elaine and Nora, would you think it was right for the vet to have said, "I can tell you the options you have for caring for your pet, but let's go out in the hallway so your childrne won't hear"? Nora, you don't say how old your little boys were. Did they even know what chemotherapy is?

Now, admittedly, I do think that the time that chemotherapy might have added to your gerbil's life might have been so slight as to be worthless, what I hate seeing and hearing is when people say that because "It's only a $10 gerbil" (or whatever the 'cost' for whatever the creature), "it doesn't make sense to spend" X, Y, or certainly not Z, amounts of money on their care. That creature didn't deliberately get sick, it isn't enjoying 'putting you out' concerning its care, and it probably doesn't want to die just this minute because you can go get another one without any trouble. It deserves what care you can afford without taking food and shelter and actual necessities from the other members in your household, and will actually create a good result for its health and comfort. If you can't make those sides of the equation work, then fine, send it on its way with your love and thanks for having enriched your life. I'd spend all I had on a gerbil as opposed to a lying, cheating, embezzling ex-spouse, even if they pleaded with me.

As someone who recently spent 4 figures on a yorkie, you spend whatever you feel comfortable with and can afford. It doesnt matter what anyone else thinks is too much. If they aren't paying your bills, why would they care? I hope you have Mystery for years to come.

Hard, hard questions, with no clear answers. My dad grew up on a farm, so he did have rather "practical" attitudes toward animals, humane treatment, of course, but he'd shake his head in wonder at large vet bills. I can see his point -- one doesn't see animals setting up little medical clinics on their own.
OTOH, I am sentimental -- I took a stray cat to the vet for a C section and fed her surviving kitten with an eye dropper. That was in 1977. When the allergist pronounced, "Zat is a 4+ reaction on ze scale of 1 to ten. You must get rid of ze catzzzz!" I cried, but found them a new home. Perhaps it was the Universe's way of sparing me from future heartache . . .
I love you, Elaine, and my heart is with you through this hard journey -- healing thoughts . . . and hugs.

When I was growing up we always had cats and dogs.
Every picture that we took had a cat or a dog in it.
My mother would have cats draped around her.
To me as an adult I can reflect on her deep love for animals. Our two St Bernard dogs required a lot of food..like a hundred pounds of meat was bought each month.
We are talking about the 1940's here. This was not a time of a lot of money. And yet my mother found ways to show her love. Heck, she even adopted me and made sure I had what I needed as well as 30 other foster children.
What is has taught me is that everyone has various capacities for love. Energies might be place in passions including hobbies, causes etc.
But whatever a person expresses it comes from the heart and is truly a gift which some are open to receive.
Examples were set for me early on and I think animals can teach us all forms of caring and intuition.

Mystery is so lucky to have you and Don, Elaine. I hope she has many more lives to go before skipping off to the great catnip field in the sky.

Kate, please don't think I intended to tar all vets with the same brush; I did not, and I know there are many good, well-intentioned and highly educated vets who care deeply about their patients and owners. But just in the last couple of years I've heard amazing and frankly startling stories from friends with beloved pets.

It's also possible that vets are suggesting more radical options because people are insisting on them . . .?
Harley, I love "great catnip field in the sky" -- and am hoping for chocolate and champagne fountains . . .

I hope Mystery has some more years in her. Pets will tear you up. I have one cat and everyone around here knows her because she walks with me. But she is getting older, and I'm really nervous about the next Vet visit.

"When the allergist pronounced, "Zat is a 4+ reaction on ze scale of 1 to ten. You must get rid of ze catzzzz!" I cried"

Mary, I had to laugh at your story! I think your allergist is related to the cat adoption lady who inspected my house in Miami: http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2010/08/in-which-i-realize-i-have-bad-landlord.html

Elaine, I wish you and Mystery as easy a time of it as is possible.

We love our cats Buffalo Thunder Paws and She-She. They saved my life by alerting me to a stranger on the back patio. They ran from one room to the next, pulling back the window coverings in the rooms as they went. This happened more than once, before I realized he was not the meter reader. I know. I am stupid. I am thankful that Buffalo and She-She are not stupid, but I will never forgive myself.

It all comes down to quality of life. That is the most important thing to consider. The pet's quality of life. If a short period of time with discomfort and hassle with the treatment can cure or abate the problem, then I would not hesitate. However, if the treatment is doing nothing but prolonging a miserable life with little or no hope of marked improvement, make the decision as hard as it may be. It is one of the important things we are able to give our pets. Animals deserve dignity in life and in death just as we humans do.

Oh, I feel for you! It's so hard. I've been thinking about this with my little dog. She's got a long-and-low build, so she may be prone to back problems. I just got her through her first, and hopefully last, back episode with steroids. The vet mentioned "back surgery" if her back becomes chronic.

When she said that, I froze, because I can't afford it. So, what would I do? Put her to sleep? That's unfathomable because she's only eight years old and with surgery she could live a long pain-free life. Let her live in pain for the rest of her life? NO WAY! I could not do that to her. I'm not that selfish. I agree with jodiL: quality of life.

I truly hope it doesn't come down to a decision. I bought a ramp for the chair she likes to sleep on. And I put her on a diet to lighten her up. I'll look into nonsurgical procedures (laser treatments?), as needed. I'll carry her more. It's sad when it comes down to money--I hate that.

Having said all this, I would consider going into debt to provide surgery.

Lisa, I've heard good things about massage and even acupuncture for aching puppies -- and even water therapy, but that might be hard to manage.
Class factotum, I've read that just the smell of felines will deter rodents . . . so I don't know what that woman was worried about. "Where will ze cat sleep?" indeed. The world is their bed . . .

I'm so sorry to hear this about Mystery.


KateH, you are right. The gerbil is entitled to care just as much as a cat or dog. I like gerbils and rats. A friend's son had a rat named Nicodemus who liked to ride on my shoulder.
Lisa, hoping the measures you take for your long-and-low dog will give her a longer, pain-free life.
Reine, your cats should be nominated for that Humane Society award for animals who rescue their owners.

Elaine, the rodents of the world thank you for appreciating their many fine qualities!
Lisa, slimmer dogs, especially those with ramps so they don't need to jump up or down, can avoid many muscle and disk problems (but sadly not all as there are no guarantees). If your dog does have further problems, ask your vet about therapeutic laser treatment. It is less expensive than water therapy, and takes less time per appointment (plus you have a dry dog).

Karen, the biggest reason that you've seen a change in treatment offerings in the past decade, is that, just as in human medicine, research leads to newer, more effective way to diagnose and treat all kinds of problems. And just like with human medicine, newer and more effective translates to more expensive. When a vet can offer the newer treatment, either in their office or by referring to another vet, it would be unethical for them not to tell a client about their options. It is not up to them to decide how a client allocates their money. When one is lucky enough to be able to afford these treatment options*, whether for a human or other animal, and it keeps them healthy and happy, it would be inhumane not to use them. *With the proviso I stated above in not taking away from actual necessities for others in your family.

Sorry to hear about Mystery; hope all is better!

We had a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Pwyll, when I was growing up. Pwyll developed a brain tumor. My parents had him operated on. Everyone thought they were nuts but Pwyll went on to live many, many more years.

Pwyll was also a biter. When I was 14, Pwyll took a huge chunk out of my back (still have scars to this day) I told my parents it was me or the dog. Took my parents 3 days to decide to keep me. True story! Pwyll took up residence with my grandma. I still love to tease my parents about it to this day.

So I understand about your baby. My prayers are for your peace with whatever happens.

Oh, Elaine, I am so sorry. I know you have 'been there' before, but that doesn't make it easier. We're rapidly approaching the same place with two of our fur babies. I don't want to think about it. I'm still mourning 2 cats that we lost 12 years ago.

I have a Final Directive and I'm sure you do too. Maybe if you try and 'feel' what Mystery would put in his FD you can get some guidance.

I'm just the Crazy Cat Lady sending all of you good thoughts.

Karen, I think you and I and STMary are in the same camp. Do you suppose it's because we grew up on farms and learned early about the shorter lives of animals and our parents' pragmatic approach? After our son was born, we had a Siamese that we were crazy about, but when it developed a urinary tract infection and the vet bills were more than the pediatrician's, I'm afraid I took the farm solution.

KateH, your mention of the laser reminded me that when I sought treatment for the incredible swelling left food (thanks so much, Curves, for a permanent reminder of my one week in your facility), the podiatrist used ultrasound treatments at one point. Apparently, the treatment was originally used on race horses with leg problems -- I hope it worked better for the horses than it did for me.

*that would be left foot -- I'll bet y'all figured that out . . .

Great inputs: massage, acupuncture, therapeutic laser treatments. I'll look into all of them. Thanks!

When I was growing up my mom wouldn't allow pets in the house (our dogs always had nice warm doghouses) Happy was terrified of thunderstorms though so mom would let him come in the house and he would head for my bedroom and stay under the bed until the storm was over.

I don't have any pets now because of allergies but I grieved for the pets of my childhood because they did become part of the family.

Here's hoping Mystery can be treated and cured.

Margaret, I didn't grow up on a farm, but I have a practical streak a mile wide, and perhaps a lot less emotion about animals than about humans.

Your mileage may vary, of course. ;-)

I didn't grow up on a farm either -- but Dad did raise rabbits when I was little, and only one was a pet (don't know how it got so lucky).
. . . and I gladly accept venison from friends who hunt . . .
If I could have pets, I would provide reasonable care, but probably not extreme measures. Of course, that's all subject to interpretation -- not sure my dad thought the mama cat's Caesarian was practical, but she wouldn't have lived without it. The practical side of me instructed the vet to spay at the same time.

About 30 years ago Dear Hubby & I had a Husky/cocker spaniel mix that developed a bladder stone. The surgery was fairly simple and reasonably inexpensive so we elected to do it. The stone was about 3 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. No wonder she was peeing all over the house. But Tasha was never the same from the surgery; she seemed to have lost a few brain cells. When the stone reappeared, we decided that with the dementia she suffered from the previous surgery, it just wasn't a good option. I cried for a week.

Dear Daughter was 7 when we got our Samoyed, Shelby. DD's freshman year at college, of course, bought kidney failure for the dog. DD just accused us of wanting to get rid of her, but she couldn't get up off the floor without peeing, was in such pain she would yelp, and there was no cure short of a kidney transplant. DD made the decision to put Shelby down right before Christmas. That was really hard, but it was the right decision.

Hope Mystery's trouble is curable and wishing her many more years.

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