Wednesday, November 23, 2011


For months now I've been regaling you with woeful news about Ruby's health. She's been the primary focus of most of our vet visits, given her weak heart and her ascites. Put simply, she's the most obviously ill of our two dogs.

(Funny story: Because Ruby is so bulbous, one of the little girls in our apartment complex thought she was a goat! The girl told one of our neighbors, "I've never seen a goat on a leash!" When the neighbor tried to tell her Ruby is in fact a dog, the girl denied it, saying, "She looks just like the goat in my storybook.")

Anyway, you may remember that Ernie's not in great shape either. In June we learned he had a mass in his lung that was probably cancerous and couldn't be treated. We gave him antibiotics on the off-chance that it was some sort of infection, but because this happened right before we left the United States, we didn't have the opportunity to explore the problem further.

Well, yesterday I took Ernie to the vet for his first exam since June. The vet did x-rays that confirmed the continued existence of the mass in his lung, and though it doesn't appear much larger than it did earlier this year, there are some signs that it may have spread to other parts of his body. The vet here agreed there's really nothing to be done, as long as Ernie seems happy. For now, he eats well and enjoys sniffing everything on his walks, so we're just in maintenance mode.

Basically, as Dave says, we're running a boxer hospice.

None of this is surprising. We knew they were both old and infirm when we brought them to England. We're watching for any signs that they're uncomfortable or in pain, and so far they seem OK. So as long as their lives are happy and productive I have no regrets, even if we only get to enjoy their company for a few more weeks or months.

Besides, we've learned that predicting pet mortality is tricky business. Our New Jersey vets never expected Ruby to live as long as she has!

(Photo: Surprisingly delicate-looking flowers for November, in Notting Hill on Friday.)


  1. Long live Ruby, Ernie, and Jake -- dogs all living on borrowed time. One day at a time...

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. If you take a long enough view, we're all living on borrowed time. Some of us just know it, and others of us don't.

    Several years ago, my former neighbor adopted a puppy with a terminal condition. The breeder planned to put the puppy down, but my neighbor wanted to give him one good summer to roll and play in green grass. That's exactly what the puppy got: one good summer before he had to be put down. But what a good summer it was!

  3. Thanks for the update on the pups- It is so difficult but somehow the pooches manage to wag and look at you with so much love that there really is no other choice but to make their lives comfy, sniff filled, kibble friendly. Very funny about your goat on a lead!

  4. I'm sorry to hear this but as one with chronically ill pets, I can tell you that as long as they're happy and want your company, that is all that matters.