We have -- or had -- two Bernese Mountain Dogs. Shadow, on the left, is not yet seven. Finn, on the right. was almost eleven, which is quite old for the breed. About three months ago, we noticed him snuffling a lot, and the vet did a nasal scope and saw a hemangioma. A knowledgeable doggie-oncologist told us that it was almost certainly an angiosarcoma. Treatment options at this age and with this disease were minimal, and we reluctantly decided to let nature take its course.
Finn had a great last couple of months. He got lots of treats, as many walks as he could stand, and lots of love and attention. But his appetite waned and he started losing weight. He developed generalized lymphadenopathy. His breathing progressively became more labored. He had trouble getting up. I went away to the ACEP scientific assembly worrying whether the crisis woud come while I was gone, and it did. My wife called me and told me that Finn had fallen and was not able to get up. It wasn't clear whether it was a spinal cord thing or just overall weakness. We got the vet to get him some steroids, and he rallied enough for me to finish up some business and come home early from ACEP.
He was a sad sight today. Practically skeletal, and barely able to walk. But he wasn't in apparent pain, and he was glad to see me. He happily snarfed up some doggie treats and we coaxed him outside for one last walk (to the end of the driveway and back). The boys came home from school and we told them that the vet would be coming by after dinner, and what was going to happen. The three-year-old was fairly oblivious, but the six-year old was devastated. We had been preparing him for a while, but he wasn't ready for it to be today.
Neither was I. Who ever is?
Our wonderful vet came over and gently administered a whopping dose of propofol and something pink (I didn't ask what), while I sat with Finn's head on my lap, and first-born-son clinging to his neck, weeping. It was shockingly quick, and peaceful.
Now, the kids are in bed, and we're numb. My wife is broken-hearted. He was her first baby, and she doted on him. I just can't get used to sitting here typing without him stretching out on the floor next to my desk. There's a huge vacancy in our house; a member of our pack has gone missing.
It's too hard to explain how much I'll miss him, so I won't even try. Good-bye, buddy.
30 October 2008
Posted by shadowfax at 9:40 PM