One of the hardest things we animal lovers do is have to make the decision to put a dear pet to sleep.
My dear pig-friend, Ivy Mae, has been diagnosed with a tumor in her sinuses. My pig doctor, Dr. Arlen Wilbers, who is the top pot-bellied pig vet in the area and who, I might add, is the most compassionate veterinarian I have ever met, advised me a few months ago when I had called him out to look at Ivy, that we would know it was time to euthanize her when she stopped eating.
The tumor growing in Ivy's sinuses has forced her to breathe from her mouth for the last month or so, but I certainly didn't expect to see fresh blood oozing from one nostril yesterday. I cringed when I saw it, and as she walked, the blood dribbled between her front feet onto the barn floor. And last evening she refused her food.
This morning she refused her breakfast, too. So, I called Dr. Arlen, discussed the possibility that it was "time," and set the appointment to put her to sleep for this afternoon. Then I emailed my best friend, called my mother, explaining to both about Ivy. And then I called the excavator to bury her.
After I hung up, I went out to the barn to be with Ivy Mae for one of the last times in her life of fourteen years. I carted with me a box of butterscotch Krimpets--her last meal, if she would take it--and the second she heard me tearing the cellophane wrapper, she looked up. Because she had not eaten her breakfast, I didn't have great hopes she would eat the cake. But she surprised me. The blood had stopped running from her nose, and she opened her mouth, a happy smile across her face. I gave her the Krimpet. She swallowed it in seconds and then begged for more. She still had an appetite--at least for junk food.
Then and there I decided to give her at least the weekend to live--to be ecstatic eating butterscotch Krimpets. She is not suffering; otherwise, I'd have allowed Dr. Arlen to still come out. Instead, I cancelled the euthanasia and the burial: Ivy has a few more days to live while I lace her Krimpets with higher doses of steroid in the hope it will reduce the tumor's growth. While I know that the tumor will prevail in the end, I want to extend Ivy Mae's precious life as long as I can. She is not suffering; therefore, I will hold out.
Every day of a life lived is a day that should be cherished.