Publisher's Note: No words are necessary
By Jeff Rapsis
Welcome to Hippo’s first-ever pet edition! I hope it reminds everyone of the joy that animals can bring into our lives. Alas, pets are mortal, so with joy comes the possibility of sorrow.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as last month Holly, our 14-year-old Border Collie, slowed down noticeably and stopped eating. Our vet recommended an ultrasound scan, which revealed our beloved dog had developed lymphoma.
Untreated, canine lymphoma means a dog has four to eight weeks left, tops. Not good news. The verdict for treatment: the cancer was too advanced and she was too old for full-scale chemotherapy. Instead, we opted to put Holly on Prednisone, a steroid which can mitigate the symptoms and keep her comfortable for a time.
A month later, Holly is doing fine, though we realize this is her final season with us. One of the side effects of Prednisone is increased appetite, so she’s now obsessed by food, almost comically so. I let her in the house, and this formerly well behaved dog aggressively pushes her wet nose into my hand to see if I’m holding any treats.
Still, she’s comfortable and active and wagging her tail, so we’re using this little grace period we’ve been granted to appreciate her, to make sure she knows she’s loved, and to reflect on all the joy she’s brought us.
And I contrast this situation with other pet-owning friends of ours who haven’t been so fortunate. Last month, a couple we know lost Molly, their faithful nine-year-old Australian cattle dog, to kidney failure. And just last week, another couple we know lost Teddy, their beloved Pomeranian, again to sudden kidney failure. The dog was just five years old, which is way too young.
It really hurts to lose a pet at any age. But I know from Holly, and from all I know of other animals and animal lovers I’ve known in my life, that whatever pain caused by their loss is far, far outweighed by the joy they bring us.
Yes, pets can be a hassle and a problem and an inconvenience. They require care and attention and love. But I hope this week’s pet edition gives you a chance to reflect on how much they enrich our lives in so many ways—how they bring people together, comfort the sick, provide companionship to the lonely, and teach us all so many lessons all the time without being able to speak a single word at all.
There’s a lesson in itself right there.