Thanks to all…

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments about the recent bad news about our dog. (Even someone who really detests me because of my position on the vaccine/autism issue was in this instance kind.) I don’t know if I’ll feel much like blogging for a while; on the other hand, blogging has been therapeutic for me in the past when bad things happen, even if I don’t actually write about them. It’s always been a good way to take my mind off of badness by concentrating on other badness, such as quackery. Also, Echo has often been my little (OK, well, not so little) black blog buddy, lying nearby or next to me on the couch or on the floor while I sat with my laptop in front of the TV set. In any case, I don’t want to turn this blog into the “my dog has cancer blog,” but I do want to mention one more thing.

The truly hard part of this experience is that, other than the bulge in her hip and the fact that Echo gets winded fairly easily, there’s little in the way of signs that anything is amiss. Yesterday was a very good day for Echo in that we had family over, and we took her for a decent length walk, during which she did quite well, only getting winded near the end as we approached home. This morning she was, as is frequently her wont, lying by the front door, waiting for joggers or people walking their dogs and barking at them. She still chomps her food and treats. As long as that’s the case, we plan on enjoying what little time we have left with her. My wife (who’s a nurse) starts working nights again this week, and I still work the usual days; so Echo will never be alone for more than a couple of hours at a time.

In a way, I hope she just bleeds out from her spleen suddenly in her sleep (a common end point of this particular tumor) or something like that, something quick and relatively painless. However, we are planning for the case where that doesn’t happen and her condition deteriorates (which will be soon). When that happens we will have no choice but to do the right thing to end her suffering.

But not just yet. We still have a little bit of time, and we intend to make the most of it.


  1. #1 NickG
    July 5, 2008

    Bobby and Howard (the lab and the mostly-pittbull) say thanks, Orac. They got extra treats and playtime after I read your entry. They also send their best wishes, several slices of ham, and a tennis ball to Echo.

  2. #2 yanub
    July 5, 2008

    It is so sudden with pets. When my cat died, years ago now, he had seemed perfectly fine–alternately snubbing or attacking everyone who entered his domain, as usual–until he suddenly became incontinent. I kept him in the bathroom overnight, only to find in the morning that he was passing blood. He never let me pick him up unless he was hurting, so when I scooped him up without so much as a twitch, my heart sank. I fought rush hour traffic to get him to the vet, only to get the bad news that there was nothing they could do, that he had end stage renal cancer, and there was no way that I would have been able to tell with him in time to do any good. That was some small comfort as I nodded through my sobs to have him euthanized, but I was bereft at the loss of that big white, allergy-prone, fight-picking menace for years. What gets into us that we can fall so completely in love with a critter that delights in abusing our ankles, or rending bunnies?

  3. #3 PhysioProf
    July 5, 2008

    Dude, I’m very sorry to hear about your dog.

  4. #4 Mike
    July 5, 2008

    The good days, as important as they are, can actually make things worse. It’s so easy then to think everything’s going to be ok, even when you know it’s really not.
    I’m new to the blog, but I’d say take your time. Write when you want to and can, and let us know how things go. I’ve been there, with humans and animals, so I know how hard it can be to do anything but be with them. I think your readers will still be here when you’re ready.
    Good luck with everything, and if it comes to the end and you have to do the “right thing”, don’t do it alone. It’s too hard and not right.

  5. #5 Dangerous Bacon
    July 5, 2008

    Just wanted to pass along best wishes. Be glad that you’ve had so many good times with Echo. She’s lucky to have such caring pack leaders.

    Our aging Lab is also getting spoiled a bit extra now, not that she lacked for attention before.

  6. #6 Dawn
    July 5, 2008

    Oh, Orac. I just read this post and the previous one, and it’s hard to type through the tears in my eyes. We had to put our loved cat to sleep last Thanksgiving, and it’s the hardest thing in the world.

    My heart goes out to you and your wife. The comforting thought is that Echo had the best life ever with the two of you. Love begats love, and we know how much Echo loves you and it’s easy to see how much you love her.

    Hugs to you all. You are in my thoughts.

  7. #7 MMOToole
    July 5, 2008

    I lost two beloved cats about four years ago to chronic renal disease (in one) and acute renal failure (in the other; second kidney, I’d been doing clysis on her twice a week). I’m not sure that losing an animal is any easier than losing a human family member; we have them such a (comparatively) short time.

    And we never forget them. My thoughts are with you and your great huntress.

  8. #8 John Best
    July 5, 2008

    Why don’t you do the right thing and end the suffering for autistic kids by telling the truth?

  9. #9 Harrison
    July 5, 2008

    John Best:
    I know I shouldn’t respond to this crap, but I really can’t let this pass. With that one comment, you reveal what an asshole you are. Go sell crazy someplace else.

  10. #10 Orac
    July 6, 2008

    No concerns. I didn’t delete Best’s comment because it shows his true personality. However, subsequent comments of this sort I will not tolerate. Echo deserves better.

  11. #11 CanadaGoose
    July 6, 2008

    Echo may have more good time than you think. Enjoy all of it.

    John Worst is a shit of the first rank. Probably the only thing he has ever succeeded at.

  12. #12 DLC
    July 6, 2008

    Re: the person who usually detests you:
    At least they have the humanity enough to set aside their detestation to offer their sympathies, unlike others around here who just don’t have it in them. A lack which shows their deficient or defective personalities. Even if I disagreed with you on something (which I have not as of yet) I like to think I would still be able to sympathize with your situation.
    I hope things go well for you, and that Echo’s remaining time is happy. Best Wishes.


  13. #13 BGT
    July 6, 2008


    My sympathies to you and Echo. I have lost quite a few pets over my lifetime, and it is never easy. My old pets have gone away for many different reasons, but they are not forgotten, nor is their love for me, and my love for them. That is all any of us can ask for, and the best we can expect. The pain doesn’t always get better, but I think that we just get better about forgetting them, since many times the loss is so hard to bear. Do what you can for your pup, I did what I could for mine.

    A short P.S. for John Best…you aren’t worth this P.S.

  14. #14 Kristjan Wager
    July 6, 2008

    I’m sorry to hear the sad news Orac. My thoughts are with you.

  15. #15 Orac
    July 6, 2008

    John Worst is a shit of the first rank. Probably the only thing he has ever succeeded at.

    His second comment was far worse than his first, and I do not want my wife or family to see it–or anything else by him, for that matter. Best can insult me all he wants and I don’t care, but he disses my dying dog, whom I love, the way he did and he’s gone.

    I do have my limits.

  16. #16 Adrienne
    July 6, 2008

    I’m a long time RI reader and fan, and also an animal lover. I lost my two ferrets this past year, one to inoperable cancer. I’m so sorry for you and Echo. But at least you and she have a little time left together to enjoy. She knows how much she is loved.

  17. #17 Mary Parsons
    July 6, 2008

    There is rather a charming article about friendship and dogs in the NYT.

    Of course, british people have known for generations that you can have far better conversations and relationships with dogs than your neighbours etc. 🙂 We were just waiting for the knowledge corpus of psychology to catch up with us on this issue.

  18. #18 IBY
    July 6, 2008

    I hope you spend a good time with the times remaining with your dog. I know how lovely they can be, and one of the worst part of moving at one time was that there was a dog I knew, and I would never see it again. I really hope that it remains as painless as possible.

  19. #19 Skwee
    July 6, 2008

    Echo knows how much you love her, Orac, & I’m sure she’ll be happy in what time you have together.

    P.S. AssBestos can go chelate himself.

  20. #20 Mac
    July 6, 2008

    I just put my longtime companion down in early May. I’d raised her from a puppy, and she was almost thirteen when we had to let her go. Everybody had been trying to take pictures of her since we made the decision, but she wouldn’t hold still or pose for the camera the way she usualy did. But when I got Blondie in the back of the car, the day of, I caught sight of her in the rearview, big wide dog grin across her face. I still had the camera with me, and that’s probably the best picture she’s taken, and the best possible way to remember her.

  21. #21 bullet
    July 6, 2008

    You have my strongest sympathies Orac.

  22. #22 Craig Willoughby
    July 6, 2008

    John Best, I don’t think your comment was appropriate. Even if you don’t like Orac, a low blow like that is deliberately hurtful. Show Orac some respect and be a gentleman out of respect for his sick family member.

  23. #23 Timelord
    July 6, 2008

    Orac, I know you can’t stand Best (neither can I) but he’s gone on a rant on his own precious blog where he can’t be touched. You and I (and the rest of the sane world) know the truth and he’s running around like a banshee screaming to whoever will listen because they – like he – are panic stricken and scared of Autism. Using your dog (and I am sorry to read about that) as a platform to push his agenda is sick and twisted. Par for the course for him. Don’t forget – he’s a hypocrite as well because he allowed his own son to live in pain for seven years. (Oh that little dose of truth is going to get him steamed!) You know the right thing to do in all circumstances.

    Best doesn’t and never will. He’s completely mad and when I finally get things in order at my end……

  24. #24 Orac
    July 6, 2008

    No worries from my account. I know what kind of man he is, and I take that into account. However, I would ask that people not click on his blog link. He’s just pissed that I banned him again, and he’s looking for attention. Please don’t give it to him or go and argue with him in the comments.

    He doesn’t exist.

  25. #25 Alan Kellogg
    July 6, 2008


    You know of, find out about, or hear from an organization during research into Echo’s cancer, see if you can donate tissue samples from her tumors. Give researchers more material to work with.

    When it comes time for Echo to die let her know it’s okay for her to go. Dogs have a deep fear of leaving their pack, and they are able to understand more than we think we do. So when she’s ready to go tell her it’s okay to go. It will make things a lot easier on her.

    Hoping it’s quick, quiet, and while having her head skritched.

  26. #26 Craig Willoughby
    July 6, 2008

    What really makes me sad about all of this is, while I agree with a lot of John Best’s views, his fanaticism borders on lunacy, and that makes the people who are on my side of the debate look really bad. And honestly, ragging on your sick family member is just poor taste in general. I disagree with a lot of your views, Orac, but I would never attack you in your grief. I would also never use something like this to push across my agenda. Yes, it makes me sad, indeed.

    Besides, you can’t be all that bad. You love your dog and you are a David Bowie fan.

  27. #27 Uncle Dave
    July 6, 2008

    Been there myself.
    Best wishes to your family and Echo.
    Hopefully you won’t have to make a tough decision for her.

  28. #28 ChrisC
    July 6, 2008


    I’m sure this is cold comfort to you, but I’m sure Echo had a great doggie life, unfortunatly cut short. I’m sure you and the wife will give her a great ending to a very happy life.

    All the best. I’ve been there and know how hard it is, but I’m sure you’ll do the right thing.

  29. #29 epador
    July 7, 2008

    Been there recently. More than half a year later still too soon for a new dog.

    Condolences to you and family.

  30. #30 WotWot
    July 7, 2008

    We had a beautiful black lab when I was a kid, loyal, loving, playful, full of life, and superb with children. Typical lab.

    I grew up with that dog, she went just about everywhere with us. A particularly special gift from her was when she introduced me (and my siblings) to the miracle of birth, and let us pick up and help care for her brand new puppies without hesitation, trusted us completely, and was very happy to share them with us. Real family dog.

    She was put down in the prime of her life after a natural disaster hit my hometown and the authorities decreed all pets were surplus to requirements. Cut us (older) kids to pieces.

    Tried getting other dogs over the several decades since, and had one or two very good ones, but it was never the same. Don’t have one now, and probably won’t try again.

    My condolences to you and your family.

  31. #31 Bardiac
    July 7, 2008

    I’m sorry to hear about your pup. You have my condolences. Words are inadequate in the face of such sadness. I’m sorry.

  32. #32 Branespace
    July 7, 2008


    Truly sorry to hear about this. My own dog, a golden retriever, died of a metastasized osteosarcoma in December. We still have a little doggie shaped holw in our hearts. I hope you the best, and enjoy the time you have together. Life is fleeting, so cherish the moment.


  33. #33 darlene
    July 7, 2008

    I am so, so sorry. One of the worst things about loving an animal is that their life span is so short compared to ours. Of course, the best thing is that they fill that time so completely.

    Enjoy every day you have. Give him extra treats, and don’t forget to scritch behind the ears for hours at a time.

  34. #34 Robert W. Donnell
    July 7, 2008

    I’m behind in my blog reading after a tough call week and just found out about this. I’m so sorry. I know a little of what you’re going through. For the last 16 years my wife and I have raised Laborador Retrievers. We usually have 2 or 3 at a time and have lost 2. Saying goodbye to an old friend is tough.

    Our oldest is now late in life, slowing down, sleeping a lot and losing his hearing. Anticipatory grief is setting in and it won’t be long before he’ll fail rapidly, I’m afraid. How many more Christmases will he have with us? I gave some photos of him to an artist friend of mine who is doing a portrait, with which I’m going to surprise my wife. She’ll cry.

    Our youngest is recovering from knee surgery (we coughed up 3 grand!)after tearing his cranial cruciate ligament.

    I hope, in spite of your impending loss, that your blogging continues apace.

  35. #35 DonZilla
    July 7, 2008

    Dear Orac:

    Just spoil Echo until she tells you she wants to go. The hardest thing for me and I’m sure all the other animal lovers here will agree, is that even when they’re deathly ill animals can have what feels like “normal” moments that will give you hope and make you momentarily question the decision to put down or not, as in Mac’s post above.

    My dog had such a long and wonderful life I knew it wasn’t fair to him to keep him alive and suffering for a couple of extra weeks just so I could have an extra five minutes’ worth of those “normal” moments. He was a very dignified guy and had high standards to maintain.

    The pain of loss is something we agree to when we decide to share our (longer) lives with animals, unless we decide to share them with an elephant or a sea tortoise. I think they live longer than we do.


  36. #36 Megan McArdle
    July 7, 2008

    I, too, am typing through a few tears. I had to put my dog down last year and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The only comfort I can offer is that, a year later, I kind of feel like he’s still with me.

  37. #37 Ivan
    July 7, 2008

    aw man……what a bummer………so sorry to learn about your four-legged daughter.

    I know someone who absolutely refused to put his dog down, and invested in doggie-wheelchairs and eventually a kind of frame that he could lie on, with a catheter and bag, and something to empty his bladder for him. His personal beliefs prevented him from putting his assistant (the dog was his service dog, and had been for several years) down. Instead the man cared for him as best he could, and the dog died naturally by his side.

    Let her know that you love her……spoil the hell out of her. Just don’t let her go too overboard on high-calorie treats…..

    may your girl outlive all expectations


New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.