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Tag: chemotherapy

Who knows what’s best for Jack?

jack

Dog blogger and broadcaster Steve Friess says he’s not going to spend $5,000 to put his dog though chemotherapy that could extend his life a year or more — and he’s going to try not to feel bad about it.

Even when he says his final goodbye to Jack in what could be less than a month.

In late October, Friess noticed the dog he’d adopted nine years ago was getting lethargic, and that his weight had dropped from his usual 11 pounds to around eight.

A vet diagnosed that Jack had an aggressive form  of lymphoma that was spreading quickly through his body.

Friess did some research, checking with friends, and vets, and friends who were vets: One of the latter urged him to “do the full chemo protocol ASAP!” It could send Jack into remission for nine months, or 12 months, or even longer.

Friess and his partner researched, debated and decided against chemotherapy — not because it would be all that rough on the dog physically (they handle it much better than we do). The main reason, he admits, is the money, which, he also admits, they just doesn’t have.

There will likely be those who second guess Freiss, or maybe try to lay a guilt trip on him: Take out a loan, hit up your friends, get a second (or third) job, launch an online fundraising campaign, let me be the first to donate.

We’ve become a nation of such overflowing compassion for dogs, with such promising new medical technologies, and such handy online fundraising tools at our beck and call, that it’s easy to lose sight that decisions about life and death — both ours and our dogs — are still our own, and that throwing in the towel, for financial reasons, or others, isn’t always a shameful choice.

We suspect Friess will receive some support for his decision, but will hear from many more questioning it. His decision to write about it, as he did in a post for Time.com, is brave, but also an open invitation to second-guessers. In any case, the decision on what’s best for Jack should be (and has been) made by the person who knows him best, and deserves to be respected

Friess, a freelance writer and co-host of The Petcast, said neither his advisers nor his vet seemed to be trying to make him feel guilty about his choice. But, as is the way with guilt trips, we often don’t need a tour guide.  Feelings of shame can start as soon as we ask our vet the question Friess did:

“How much will it cost?”

For Friess, the estimate was a minimum of $5,000 — more than he and his partner had.

“(It) means we have about 30 days. The end will probably come in time for holidays … ”We’ve received a lot of advice, both solicited and unwelcome, through social media. Nobody comes right out to say it, but the disappointment some express at our decision shows that they question our love for Jack. In an era when people spend big on animal clothes, artisanal foods and medical intervention, and when medical science makes it possible to spend $5,000 so Jack dies slightly later than sooner, there is pressure to go as far as we can.”

There’s one more twist. Friess and his partner are trying to adopt a human baby, and they’re working on saving the $15,000 fee for that.

“If that $5,000 could cure the cancer and restore Jack’s full life expectancy, maybe we’d do it,” he wrote. “Maybe. It certainly would be a tougher choice. But to buy a year during which we’d be waiting for his lymph nodes to resume their swell? We could endure the end stages either now or later.”

(Photo of Jack by Steve Friess)

World’s tallest dog dies in California

Gibson, the tallest dog in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, died after a battle with bone cancer.

Standing 42.6 inches tall, the giant Great Dane passed away last Friday in California, the Sierra Sun reported.

“The harlequin great Dane who spent time on Oprah’s couch, hugged Paris Hilton, graced the set of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and warmed the hearts of hundreds of Nevada County convalescent hospital patients, died Friday,” the newspaper reported in the dog’s obituary.

Born in 2002, Gibson weighed 180 pounds and measured 7 feet 1 inch when standing on his hind legs. He worked as a therapy and special needs training dog, visiting centers for the elderly and schools throughout the California area. He also served as mascot for a company that makes canine-friendly artifical turf.

Gaining world wide attention due to his huge frame he was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right front paw in April of this year; the leg was removed in May in a seven-hour operation aimed at preventing the cancer from spreading further.

After the surgery, Gibson received chemotherapy and was reported to be recovering.  Last week, though, Sandy Hall, Gibson’s owner, learned that the cancer had spread to Gibson’s lungs and spine, at which point Gibson’s doctor stated that there was no other medical treatment that would save the dog.

“X-rays showed that the cancer had spread to his spine and his lungs. Ms. Hall made the very difficult decision based on her concern and love for Gibson to have him humanely euthanized,” said Dr. Peter Walsh, Gibson’s veterinarian.

“Gibson died peacefully in the loving arms of Ms. Hall,” he said.

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