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Which Path to Take on the Loss of a Pet Journey

Friday, September 10 Continued. It was important to me that I made the right decision on what to do — nothing, amputation, chemo, other avenues – for the right reason. I wanted to make the decision on what was best for Maggie and not what was right for me or because of what I felt other people would say about me or about  Maggie. So many people when they see an animal with a leg amputated say ‘how could they do that to the animal?’ I know I have done that. Just the other month I saw a dog in the park with three legs and thought ‘poor thing. How could they do that to her?’ When I recognized the self chatter I stopped and really looked at her. She was running and playing and having a wonderful time. She was fine with her life and having three legs. It was me who was being judgmental!

From what I’ve read, most dogs do very well on three legs. Also the more I talked to people, everyone knew someone or knew of someone who had a dog with three legs and the dogs were happy, well adjusted animals who had been given an opportunity to live longer. Apparently this is particularly true if it is one of their back legs — easier to get their balance back. Dogs aren’t worried about what they look like and are in the moment. Pity people couldn’t be more like that! Another lesson to be learned from our animal companions. 

When I talked to some people over the week about amputation, I was surprised and deeply hurt by the individuals who said “you wouldn’t do that to her.” I was also shocked by my reaction ‘if I go this route, am I going to have to go through defending my actions with everyone I meet and can I do that’. I had to make sure that my decision was not based upon the reaction of others and my reaction to them but on what was best for Maggie. I knew that was going to require some deep healing work but I was more than willing to do it for Maggie. I had spent the week really thinking about that and going into my feelings around it.

On the way home from B’s I was driving by the cemetery where Mom and Dad’s ashes are buried. It is a beautiful spot — the Scenic Watergarden — there are two huge white European Swans in the pond and lovely trees surrounding the area. Mom & Dad’s stone faces the pond. I decided to stop in and see if I could connect with them. They’d always been there for me in every major, and minor, thing that happened in my life and I felt lost without them. This was particularly true when it came to my animal companions. I didn’t make a single decision about Mac, my horse, without running it by my Dad. Nor anything to do with Maggie and Tara. Dad was very wise and knowledgable when it came to animals. So the need to connect with Mom and Dad was very strong.

It was a beautiful fall day. As I sat crying by their stone, I asked for their help and guidance. I heard “we’ve always taught you to do the best for your animals and to consider their needs.” At that point it became very clear to me what I would do. I would ensure that Maggie’s remaining time with Tara and I would be as good as it could possibly be. No more surgery, nothing invasive. I would do everything I possibly could wholistically and when the pain started and wasn’t being managed wholistically, we would use pharmaceutical drugs. I knew this decision was coming from a healthy place and from love and not fear.

I felt calmer having come to a decision, it had been a horrible and tortuous week figuring out what I would do. I felt in my heart this was what Maggie wanted. Even though I want her to be in my life for as long as possible, what is best for her is what counts. I thanked Mom and Dad for helping me get that clarity and went home.

I called our regular vet, G. He had received the lab reports and confirmed that the diagnosis was accurate. He was wonderful and kind and I knew it was a difficult discussion for him too. He said osteosarcoma is a very aggressive cancer — a “bad cancer”. He too went through the options and very kindly gave me his opinion on them and what he would do if it was his dog. I appreciate his honesty. His input plus the decision I’d already come to, helped me to feel that I was on the right path.

G. told me that the bone’s stability would decrease as the tumour ate through it so there was an increased risk of fracture. However, his belief, as is mine, was that Maggie should enjoy the rest of her life. He knew that I walked them in the woods every morning and that is their passion. He said “do it!” Using common sense of course. Oh thank God! We’re going back to the woods!!!! That would be the first thing we did on Monday morning when we were back together.

I then drove into Toronto in time for that evening’s portion of the Movers and Shakers Conference with Cheryl Richardson and Reid Tracy. As I sat in the audience I felt this overwhelming exhaustion. As amazing as Cheryl and Reid were, it was hard to focus and to stay awake. I wondered why I was there. The answer would come to me the very next day!

I got home that night around 10:30 and as I walked in the door the silence was deadly. No Maggie. No Tara. No one so glad to see me. It’s horrible when they aren’t home. I went to bed, missing them. Even more than usual….

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