Hi everyone,

My baby Pom/Corgi mix Ross is 12 years old. I am 24 and continuing medical school states away from my parents, where he lives. Ever since getting him at the shelter at 1 years old, my family’s life has been so full of joy and love from this sweet boy. My mom told me back in August that he has been losing weight ever since having some teeth removed, so I thought it was okay. In December, he had lost even more weight and was very picky with food he ate, if any, so I knew something was happening in the back of my mind, but I didn’t want to think about it. Fast forward to today, I get a call saying that he passed out at the groomer’s and the vet might have found a mass in his stomach. I have been bawling my eyes out all night and can’t seem to focus. I feel so guilty being so far away. I am trying to find a flight home as soon as possible because it literally hurts my heart so much to the point where I feel sick knowing if I can’t be there to say goodbye in time. I have a beagle of my own, but it’s been hard to give him love knowing my family’s beloved dog is so sick and near the end. Really, I just need a voice to hear me out and know that I’m not alone in feeling like this. My family has discussed putting him down if the diagnosis is in fact cancer. It just feels like I’ll never be able to get it together because no love is like the first love....
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Hi karrit9,

I’m very sorry to hear all that your family is going through. It is very difficult when our furry friends come down with a disease. Hang in there. Don’t panic. You don’t know what it is yet. Might it be your worst fear? Yes, it could be. But, could it also be something else, or even a simple benign mass? Yes, it could be. Fearing the worst will not help you. Get a diagnosis and then once you have it, do your research. Learn about whatever it is and what can be done for it. Knowledge is power. Whatever you learn may not correct the situation, but it will help you to better deal with it and to make decisions you can live with.

This is difficult and scary. But panicking, picturing them dead before they even are, will not help the situation. If you are able to be there, then I think that would be nice. That way you can see Ross and discuss as a family what to do.

You are not alone in feeling like this. Not at all. I’ve been where you are and it is very difficult. But don’t let anxiety get the better of you. Be there for Ross as much as you reasonably can. But don’t feel guilty for the things you can’t control. Ross has your parents at home, so he’s not alone or not being cared for. He has their love around him.

Take care and keep us up to date with everything. Here’s hoping for the best with Ross!
—Loving Riley, Rosy & Axl always 🐾

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I'm very sorry to read this and I can really feel your worry and your pain. Yes, no love is like the first love. When you learn to love a dog for the first time, you discover such a wonderful kind of love, that no other can compare. I'm glad you're trying to go to your parents to see him, there's nothing harder than carrying the guilt of not being able to say goodbye. Don't worry about your beagle, unlike humans, dogs understand when we are needed somewhere else and he can understand much better than you think. Just be sure to give him all the love he deserves when you come back to him.

About putting your family's dog down... I'm facing that decision right now. I'm all for it, but the problem is when. Your boy may have stomach cancer, and being in medical school you know very well what it means. My mother is a doctor, an internist. She was trained to save lives, but ever since my granpa died, 23 years ago, after five weeks with tracheotomy, my mom started learning that sometimes doctors need to understand when it's best to spare their patients so much pain and suffering. But yet again, the big question is when to put an end to it.

I'm here for you, I'll have Ross in my prayers, hoping for it to be just a mass and not cancer. And I'll also pray for you to find a flight as soon as possible, so you can say goodbye to him.

Btw, something that has worked very well for me in the past, with my elderly dogs who are now at the rainbow bridge, is to tell them that they have to let go when they feel it's time. My boy Schatzy had a heart condition, he lived almost 17 years, but when he had a heart failure and he couldn't breathe anymore, he gave us a look that let us know it was time to let him go. Hope this helps.

I just remembered that when my cousins' dog was very ill, one of them was studying abroad. The dog waited patiently until my cousin came to visit. Then, after one beautiful day together, he got very sick and had to be taken to the vet where he passed away. So, if you get to see him, please forget your fears and as hard as it may be, try to be cheerful and give him all the love you can. Just be there with him and for him. It may be the last time you spend together, it may not, but building sweet memories is always the best thing to do. There's a reason why people say "live everyday as if it was your last day". Stay strong, for Ross.
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