I have been on a journey for the last 8 months my dog Baxter being diagnosed with inoperable meningioma a brain tumor, of the cerebellum in his brain. Baxter is nearing 11 years old and is a boxer. He is a wonderful boy I would do anything for him. After diagnosis by MRI and specialists, we came to the conclusions that available treatments would ruin any remaining quality of life that Baxter would have so we decided on symptomatic treatment and love for the remaining time. We didn’t expect more than a few weeks together so we began our bucket list. For Baxter that involved food, lots of yummy things. Lasagna, chicken parm, steak, strawberry shortcake, ice cream…really what he wanted he got within reason as he has no adverse events to foods, and yes, I sent my vet pictures, LOL! As we passed each month thankful for the time we have together, I have learned a lot from him. I struggle each day thinking when will be the right moment that I should help my best friend to move on to the wonderful world of the rainbow bridge where everything is ready to be enjoyed by him. I watch for signs of quality of life. There are some scoring systems out there that may help but I prefer my own observations and my good friend who is veterinarian to keep things in check for me.
I watch for signs of discomfort, distress, or pain:
Is he eating and drinking? Urinating and defecating
Looking at his posture of his body, is he hunched or head hanging low and resistant to activity?
His breathing-is he panting or having any difficulty breathing?
His eyes are they open and aware or wide eyed (whale eyes) or mostly closed?
His activity, does he look to seek a private spot and not want to be around people or does he enjoy being with us and seek attention, or is he anxious, pacing, whining, barking?
I check in with my veterinarian when I need reassurance that he’s comfortable and that in turn gives me comfort. Every day I say thank you for today and just take a moment to think about his quality of life. I am blessed that I have now had over 8 months with Baxter, animals are amazing! They have no vanity, no knowledge of what they have and just live for the moment. Baxter and I will live for the moment and I know those of you who have been on this journey or are on it now will take comfort in knowing you are not alone but be focused, be strong, be your dog’s advocate, and remember to breath and enjoy every moment. I sometimes just sit with him and find we’ve paced our breathing unknowingly together. We just sit in the take in the tranquil moments we have. Time is shortening and I know we have had the best time together. When the time comes it will be at home if at all possible, and I will take his ashes and place them under a beautiful butterfly bush that I will plant just for him. When the butterflies visit, I will think he is with me and breath thinking of him as he is breathing with me.