light snow, then cleared to blue skies, temps minus 2
I'm all better - no more cold or flu - but yesterday Michael crawled into bed and announced he was sick. I took his temperature. 101. Out with the hot water bottle, the Tylenol, the trashy magazines, and Sudoku. Poor guy.
But he crawled back out of bed to go with Maggie and me to the vets. Her leg is getting much worse and a decision has to be made.
Hope is a funny thing. It shifts, changes, adjust. It's alive. As we've gone through this with Maggie we first hoped her leg could be healed. Then we hoped it wouldn't get any worse. Then we hoped the steroids would work. Then we hoped amputation wouldn't be necessary. And when we took her to the vet yesterday we hoped it would. We hoped he wouldn't say there was no hope left, and her time had come.
At first he looked at her leg and said, if you tell me to put her down I won't stop you, I won't argue. I could feel the tears, and fought them down. I don't cry all that often, but when I do it's a mess. And I needed to think, not feel. Not yet.
So we asked about amputation. He hummed and hawed. What to us a month ago was unthinkable had suddenly become the thing we most hoped for. Please, say yes to amputation both Michael and I thought. The vet called a colleague, and reviewed Maggie's x-rays, then returned.
He examined her again and asked some questions...yes, she gets around fine limping on 3 legs (the rear left leg broke last winter and couldn't be fixed - it was actually the elbow joint...it's been getting worse since, though she didn't seem in pain until a couple months ago...but she hasn't put weight on it for 3 months or so). Yes, her appetite is great. Yes, she goes up and down stairs, with encouragement. She sleeps, wags her tails, goes to the dishwasher to lick the dishes. She still has a great quality of life. Except for the leg.
But she's a 10 year old golden.
I'm not saying this was an easy decision for us. Is it fair to put our beloved dog through an operation like this? Would it be more loving, more humane to let her go? Honestly? I don't know the answer. Are we being chickens by hoping for amputation? Just putting off the inevitable and forcing her to live with pain, longer?
I don't know.
We do believe she loves life still. Loves her walks to the pond, her treats, her food, her snuggles. And we honestly believe without that leg, her pain will be gone and her life will improve. And that she's in great shape, except...
The vet has agreed that amputation is a legitimate option - and the operation will be on Monday. Apparently it's more traumatic for the 'parents' than for the 'puppy' - I hope that's true.
But we love her - and while we'd hate to see her go, we'd really hate to put her down without trying every reasonable option. We'll see. And watch her closely. And if, after the operation, she's still in distress - well, then hope will shift one more time.
We hope we have the courage and decency to do what's right.
But for now, we have every reason to believe it will be a greart success, and three-legged Maggie will be in fine form!