So, it looks like I'm getting to experience the joy that is having had a pair of similarly-aged dogs reaching their respective end-years. We had/have two dogs, Puckett and Lana. Both were middle-weight bulldog mixes. By their size, their average lifespans should have been about 11-13 years. Both dogs were rescues. Both dogs' estimated birth years were 2000. So, 2010/2011 puts them within the last 1-3 years of their expected lifespans.
This was a picture of them taken in late April of 2009. Here, they're pictured doing one of their favorite things: begging for food from me as I ate dinner on the living room couch. It's a crap picture because I'd snapped it with my cellphone's camera. I was just lucky enough to catch them in a pose that, to me, looks like they were both laughing at something terribly funny.
When we'd first gotten Lana (pictured at right), she was a black-faced boxer-mix. By the time this picture was taken, most of the black in her face had turned white. We called this "liar-face". Her "liar-face" was a daily reminder that she was in her later years...
This past December, we lost Lana to a combination of lymphosarcoma and spondylosis. Really, it was more the latter than the former as the former was treatable - even if expensive - whereas the pain from the latter made undertaking the former's cure a non-starter. So, we had her put down rather than put her through the chemotherapy experience when she'd only come out the other end of it still in back pain and with less than two statistically-likely years to live. Factor in a lifetime with a heartworm-damaged heart (and the associated expected shortening of natural lifespan), and it made no sense to put her through the chemotherapy.
In recent months, Puckett started to develop skin irritation problems that resulted in hair loss. Initially, lab results had indicated that he had a staph infection in his skin. We initially treated it with basic antibiotics, pending lab results. The initial round was largely ineffective - the lab results eventually told us it was because he'd managed to contract an antibiotic-resistent form of staph. So, we put him on more powerful (and much more expensive) antibiotics for a month. That seemed to get the infection back under control. Shortly after we'd had Lana put down, he managed to scratch himself open. So, we ended up putting him in a "Comfy Cone" (a soft E-collar) to keep him from further harming himself. It had looked like the wound was healing, and then, one day, it was back to looking angry and sore. So, we took him back to the vet so it could be surgically addressed.
While in surgery, they discovered another skin lesion along his abdomen. So, they removed both lesions and biopsied them. It turns out, Puckett's skin problems weren't so much a skin infection as a relatively rare and not chemotherapy-treatable form of lymphosarcoma. Ironically, had he had Lana's variety of lymphosarcoma, there'd be a high likelihood of it being curable with the chemo. I'd have found a way to afford the $3,000-$5,000 they'd quoted for Lana's potential treatment. For better or worse, that's not even an option.
Now, I get to wait for his skin to worsen over the coming months. Normally, they project an average of six months from diagnosis to terminal-condition. They caught his unexpectedly early, so, it's possible we may get a few extra months. Still, it's essentiall a death sentence. On the plus side, he still acts like an adolescent dog and the vet thinks he'll likely to be that way right up to about the time we need to put him down. On the plus side, it means he'll be his Pucketty self for another several months. On the minus side, I'll have to put down a dog that's still full of life but in growing discomfort from the multiplying skin lesions.
Fmeh. Why does it seem like, as you get older, all that's left is to wait for the death of everyone and everything you know, while you feel yourself winding down. Right now, it feels like the world is dying.