Last night I put to sleep Toby, a 15 year old Maltese Terrier. 13 Months ago I unfortunately diagnosed a nasty pancreatic carcinoma and Toby was given a mean survival time of 3 days. We commenced an X human genetic chemotherapy drug called Palladia that did wonders and in the end Toby passed from kidney disease not the cancer.
When I arrived at Toby’s house last night he was walking down the street wagging his tail and he came up to me gave me a cuddle and sat on my toes. It was a timely reminder for me of two things. Firstly, and most importantly Toby had 13 months of bonus time with his family who loved him dearly with the aid of a drug that although prolonged his life did not affect him in any other way. The second is that when the time comes, is it hard to know? Toby was still able to wag his tail and show affection, but he hadn’t eaten for 2 days and was sleeping 23 hours a day.
As a veterinarian I took an oath to uphold the Quality of Life (QOL) if my patients. I will tell you when the time is right but more often than not you will realise when the time has come. For me it is amazing to be met by a dog that is dying but is able to smile at me, wag his tail and show me affection. For me, last night was pleasure. To ease the pain and suffering of Toby and of his owners. He is in a happy place now, no kidney disease, no arthritis and certainly no cancer.