Posted by: Adrianna | June 27, 2010

The expiration date

Several people have felt the need to point out to me that Elliott, at 13.5yrs, has had a good long life for a large breed dog.  It’s not untrue, and I can’t blame anyone for trying to comfort me, but of course the answer in my head is that it’s not long enough.

The fingers-crossed prognosis from the oncologist is 12 more months.  If someone had told me when I adopted him 12 yrs ago, when he was nearly two, that he’d live to almost 15 and spend 93% of that time in great health, with few worries, I’d have been so happy and thankful.  Now that we’re up to 13.5 years & down to the 7% remaining, I feel a lot differently.  I don’t want 7% filled with uncertainty, I don’t want any % filled with him having moments of feeling poorly.  I want more years and a lot smaller percent of decline. I don’t want to see his muscles melt away, I don’t want to see any of this.

I also don’t want to reflect on how grateful I am for all the time we have had together.  I likely will at some point, but not now.  Now I just *want*.  I want to cling, I want to cry, I want to be squashed on the bed because he’s taking up too much room again, I want to trip over him running circles around me as I try to leash him.

In a big way I feel like I can’t explain why it’s so painful for him to have an expiration date.  If you asked me two weeks ago (you know, when he had a checkup which showed no issues) if I honestly thought my dog would live another five years, I might have admitted that at his age, any extra year would be a blessing.  So did I really expect him to make it to 15 and beyond? Not really, but I guess the possibility of it was somehow sustaining.  Now that he’s been diagnosed with a terminal cancer (I can’t even believe this, even now) I’ve lost that and it hurts.  It just hurts.



  1. I understand it hurts, and you have a right to own that feeling.

  2. I’m with you, on the expiration date. Cricket is 14 now, still dealing with chronic hepatitis and two forms of cancer (including an insulinoma), and still suffering from advanced arthritis and lousy genetics (ortho speaking). Had you asked me 14 years ago when she was a 7-lb wriggling ball of fur whether I’d be happy to see her this far, I’d have yelped “yes” louder than her early separation-anxiety-laden vocalizations. But as she lays at my feet, the last thing I want anyone to say is that she’s had a nice long life and that I should be thankful for that. I’ll get there on my own, thank you. In the meantime, I don’t want to lose her…ever….any more than I want you to lose Elliott.

    As for the Beneful, I just went back to lacing her food with it out of desperation. I have no idea what they put in that stuff (Cricket is partial to Beef Stew) but it’s wondrous. Glad to hear that it works for Elliott too (it’s probably a canine conspiracy, but whatever). 🙂

    As for the panting (and forgive me if I’m stating the obvoius) but that is one of Cricket’s “tells.” Specifically, it means she’s in some degree “distress” (and I’m using that term loosely). In her case, it specifically means that she needs to pee or poop or is hungry or is in pain. I just work my way down the list.

    As for having to pee — I don’t know if accidents are a big problem, but you can try getting the “male wraps” for him and lining them with poise pads. I use them here and, although it doesn’t necessarily allow you to eliminate taking him out every 4 hrs, it can help contain the urine if he has an accident. I use them on Cricket overnight and have used them on my male as well, and the actually ask me to put them on now.

    Hang in there and please give Elliott a big hug for me. Cricket and I are sending positive vibes and hopes that both can celebrate their 15th birthday (Cricket will spring for the cake).

  3. I say you have every right to give Elliott a good quality of life and you are. Hopefully you two will be together for a long time.. One knows when the time for exparation is right. Only Elliott knows ,it is his life. He will let you know when he is ready to go and be with Earl. People try to be helpful and supportive,but sometimes it doesn’t come out right. You and Elliott just love and enjoy each other. Give him a hug and kiss for me.

  4. It’s never, *ever* long enough. Never. No explanations needed.


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