September 13, 2008

How Much Is Too Much For Our Pets?

Ching-Ching - February 2008.
We’re having a dilemma at our house. defines the word dilemma as a ‘choice between equally undesirable alternatives” or “a difficult or perplexing situation”. Both descriptions apply to our situation although to some folks this would not even be a question to be debated.

As it is, I’m not sure hubby and I are ‘debating’ the issue very much because he seems certain of the answer and, as usual, I’m pouring over
alternative solutions and offering a variety of options! The reasonable response verses the emotional response!

The ‘situation’ involves our beautiful loving Golden Retriever, Ching-Ching! Maybe I should stay away from adjectives as I write this story in order not to prejudice the reader. But, I’m not necessarily seeking advice or asking for the right answer because the decision is already cluttered enough with our own personal feelings and moral convictions!

It started with Ching-Ching’s water bowl. I’m the regular caretaker for feeding and filling the water bowls for Sheba and Ching. Hubby takes over on the weekends when his schedule is a little more flexible. Last week I noticed she was drinking a LOT more water. Instead of filling it each morning, I found it empty several times a day. It dawned on me that she was drinking at least a gallon of water a day – and outputting in equal volume!

Another difference - Sheba often comes to my side of the bed during the night snorting a little to waken me for a potty run. This has been happening with more frequency since she was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. At the door, Sheba stands back away from the door while I shoo Ching away from her favorite sleeping spot so we can open the door. (There’s been some fighting over the preferred cool spot by the door.) Ching-Ching usually slugs over to her personal couch for the rest of the night as Sheba and I step outside right under the little dipper and the Orion cluster for Sheba’s nightly ‘outing’. If it’s nice outside, Sheba might try to lie down on the cool grass but I’m not that nice at 3 a.m.!

The last week or so, Ching-Ching has dashed outside along with Sheba. That put together with the excessive drinking, I decided Ching-Ching either had a urine infection or diabetes so I took her to the vet last Thursday. Within the hour, the vet surmised that this wasn’t a urine infection but she wouldn’t confirm other problems without blood tests. Before we left the office, less $285 dollars and two vials of blood, I felt certain we were not going to be happy with the news.

We got he call yesterday afternoon. According to Dr.Zinni who did Ching-Ching’s emergency surgery back in February of this year, (see story at, Ching-Ching is a diabetic in need of some serious treatment – at a formidable cost to us that we cannot afford.

Already, I can hear the clamor of opinions. Pet lovers who understand the chemistry between dog and master would howl with disbelief at the bare thought of not treating with hospitalization, Insulin, regular blood tests and special diet ($500 starting on Monday added to the $285 last Thursday).

On the other hand, those who don’t pamper their dogs as we do, offering these furry children the life of leisure and luxury, shake their heads with bewilderment at our discomfort.

We know of many dog owners who have so many dogs tied out in the front yard that one can’t get through the barking, growling big dogs and yapping squirming small puppies. Their purpose is to howl at the moon, produce more puppies and bark at any disturbance of nature 24/7.

Other people value their pets more than real children, often putting their pet's health care above their own! Sparkle has his own bed, catered food, manicures in a regular basis with only the best in nail color, name brand outfits and personalized strollers for the frequent outings to restaurants and pet parks to name only a few.

Our furry children come close to the second category. But not quite.

Here’s where the dilemma occurs.

Do we treat aggressively?
No treatment at all?
Self-treat with vet supervision? (I can give shots and monitor blood sugars but the vet doesn't support that.)
Self-treat without vet assistance? (Order meds online and watch diet.)
Allow pet to die at home no matter how bad she gets?
Put to sleep when she is in a lot of pain?

If we treat as the vet as suggested, Ching-Ching would need at least one overnight hospital stay to monitor during the initial Insulin treatment. ($500 up front.) There would follow weekly vet appointments and blood draws. (At least $100 weekly) Cost of meds and other supplies for incontinence. ($50/wk) Administration of shots once or twice a day. Monitoring of blood sugar every 4-12 hours depending on how she is responding. Cost of extra special diet and no treats or snacks they love once in a while. Our schedule and time required to do all this is almost impossible with our work schedule. There would be unpredictable reactions and no guarantee of quality of life or lifespan. (Ching-Ching is nine-years old.)

We are sure this is something we can’t afford and don’t want to subject Ching-Ching to, but the dilemma is how we feel about making that decision!

While we have enjoyed a good relationship with Dr. Zinni, we are going to have to say no to her recommendations and expect her disfavorable reaction.
I guess it’s one day at a time now as we wait for that “nighty-night” time. Ching-Ching is still alert, eating well and playful. We hope this doesn’t deteriorate too fast. But, we will continue to do all the things she loves including rolling in the grass on walks with Jim, a dog bone once in a while and just a little bit of daddy jim’s cookie at supper time.
Take Care on the Journey,


The Cat's Meow said...

At least you can let your Beloved Baby go nite nite. With out haveing to suffer by being without you and being STABED every 4-6 hours. BUT for now you can just give her the best life you can. I guess we all have to get old sometime. Love Ya

Katy said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this terrible turn of events for your beloved Ching Ching. I would be jave a heavy heart if I were in your place. Like Sandy says, at least you can give her love and normalcy at the end instead of lots of doctors and uncomfortable treatments. Hang in there!