A dying dog, holistic care, and the next step with Scout

Scout at Dr. Hall's office

I was sitting on the floor in the lobby of the veterinarian’s office, blowing soap bubbles for Scout while we waited for our medications after our counsultation with Dr. Hall, a holistic doctor.

A woman sitting near us was watching as Scout happily pounced on the bubbles and then stared intently into my eyes as he waited for the next wave of the bubble wand.

“He’s so smart,” the woman said. Smart, beautiful, well behaved, lovely, she said. I know this, of course, know that this dog is one in a million with his gentle spirit and simple needs. I also know that by the end of summer, he may be gone.

I didn’t know how to reply to the woman, but I also didn’t expect what came out of my mouth: “He’s dying,” I said. “He has cancer. It’s breaking my heart.”

Her eyes welled up. “Oh my God,” she said. “That’s terrible!”

We both looked at Scout, who was standing still, eyes locked on the bottle of bubble fluid in my hands.

“I’m in denial,” I said to the woman, “and he clearly has  no idea what’s going on right now. So we just act like nothing’s wrong.” We both smiled. She’d been there, too. It’s easier to just pretend like everyone is fine, because the alternative is much too difficult to think about.

* * * * *

Scout and I had been to see Dr. Hall, a veterinarian who specializes in acupunture and Chinese medicinal herbs to discuss ways to keep Scout healthy for as long as possible. I’ve never considered myself into “New Age”, but the truth is that what Dr. Hall shared with me makes perfect sense. That our bodies – and those of our dogs – are created in balance, and that our bad diets and unhealthy lifestyles and genetic mutations tip that balance. Using herbs and diet and massage and acupressure and acupunture, we can help put things back into balance.

In the end, we decided not to do acupunture right now; Scout took to Dr. Hall immediately and we figured that it was better for him to leave happy with her and want to go back.  In fact, when she walked into the room, he went right up to her and licked her hands, and when she sat down he slobbered all over her face. Which is very unusual. Dr. Hall said the room has “good Chi”.

But we did make some changes to his diet – high protein and fat, low carbs, which helps to inhibit tumor growth, 6 Flavor Tea Pills to counter the “yang” from the Prednisone, Wei Qu to help boost his immune system, a mix of cancer-inhibiting herbs, and fish oil to help with inflammation.

I don’t have any illusions that we’re going to cure Scout. He’s doing to die. But if we can give him a little longer, and make it healthy and comfortable, and do it without negatively affecting his quality of life, then I’m happy to try Dr. Hall’s suggestions. In fact, I hope to bring Bailey in to see her to talk about pain management for her recently diagnosed hip dysplasia. One thing I know that because we’re aware of the problem early we can approach it without heavy medication.

* * * * *

And so we move on, day by day, moment by moment, making memories but not making plans beyond today. We move on willing to explore ways to better treat our bodies and our pets.


One response to “A dying dog, holistic care, and the next step with Scout

  1. It sounds like you have found a great resource to help with Scout’s care. It always helps when they feel comfortable with their doc. : ) It amazes me that when we are sometimes in general conversation, yet dealing with such tragic moments, our heads tell us to say one thing but our hearts speak for us. When you said “but I also didn’t expect what came out of my mouth” is an example of our need to share our grief with those around us, whoever they may be, opening doors for us to lighten our burdens.

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