The Heartworm Dilemma.

As many of you already know, Ray’s first medical checkup after moving in with us tested positive for heartworm. Further testing produced an assessment of Stage 2 (Stage 4 is considered terminal) which could possibly be treated. The cost was high and the process could kill him; the treatment period was long at 6 months, and he would have to be kept as calm as possible throughout the treatment period to give him the best chance of surviving it. Euthanization was also an option.

The following is an extract from the book about Ray –  “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” (click book cover in right column for more information).

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The thought of euthanizing Ray gave me a lot of problems because of Skeeta, my first cat in Canada. Skeeta always seemed to love the company of pretty much anybody and her original owners did not feel that they had the time for her any longer, and so were looking for an alternative home for her. She made a huge impact on us all but, after only three months, she was clearly distressed and we were advised that she had feline leukemia. Her condition could not be treated and it was recommended that we have her euthanized. Looking back, I still struggle with Skeeta’s death. (Terms like “euthanize”, “put down”, and “put to sleep” are all gentle terms that simply mask the reality of killing.)

The issue with Skeeta was not that she had to be killed, but that it was far too easy to do. To have an animal killed, regardless of the justification, should really take more than signing a piece of paper and handing over a relatively small amount of money. Such a simple process was somehow offensive to me in that it resulted in the death of a living creature who had displayed an unquestionable ability to connect with us at an emotional level. The more I thought about Skeeta, the more I decided that Ray deserved an opportunity to live and it would be my goal to ensure that he had that opportunity. My decision therefore was to keep him with us and start treatment as soon as possible. Fortunately, Carol had come to the same conclusion and so treatment was scheduled over the summer.

It did cross my mind that Carol may not be able to justify the cost of the treatment so, while I was not anticipating an issue over this, I was prepared. I had already decided that I would cover the cost on my own if necessary. Here was a dog who was less than three years old; who had not had a very good start to his life; who was clearly making an effort to adapt to a family environment; who was already making a niche for himself in our family; who was showing signs of being more than happy to stay with us and, most importantly to me, here was a dog who had invited me to be his friend.

What sort of friend would I be to now walk away from him, and leave him to whatever fate would await? Ray could well die during the heartworm treatment, but then he could also survive it. I was very happy to commit whatever was necessary to ensuring that he had the best chance possible of a long and happy life. I suddenly realised just how important he was to me. I loved this guy!

**  ***  *****  ***  **

Of course there is much more to this story however, the link below provides a poetic perspective on the issue (and is included in the book “Just Thinking”).

Footnote: In my final review of this Post this morning prior to hitting the Publish button (5:30am), I discovered that I still get teary listening to this poem … and it was written quite a long time ago now!

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24 thoughts on “The Heartworm Dilemma.

    • She was a gorgeous cat. A great character, and meticulously clean. I still think of her. I often wonder whether the vet’s recommendation was based on fact (there was no treatment for it), or based on an assumption that we would not want to carry the treatment costs. Back then I would have just accepted his professional opinion. Now … I will challenge any recommendation until I am satisfied that it really is the best option. RIP Skeeta.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I had to make a terrible decision for a dog I had years ago that was terrified of thunder. Being out at work all day, she was alone apart from lunchtimes when I went home and it was the summer of 1980 when we were having thunderstorms at the drop of a hat. The vet recommended tranquillisers, and we were increasing the dose, and to watch her ‘come down’ was pitiful. When I came home and found she’d wrecked the kitchen, bare wires out of the fridge freezer and luckily not thrown herself through the glass panel in the back door, we had the choice of a junkie dog or no dog. I still hate myself for it

        Liked by 1 person

  1. That picture of Ray with the blanket just makes my heart go “Awh….” every time!
    I like your footnote. Animals touch our lives in ways we never imagined they would and I can understand you still getting teary eyed. Just shows you have a heart! You are not like the “Tinman” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always a hard decision. I had a cat who lost an eye when I was a child. Our vet (who was more of a farm animal vet) said to put her down because she would get mean. I think that traumatic event (for both the child and the cat) set me up to rescue two one-eyed cats as an adult. They do not get mean with the loss of an eye. They adapt very well. Damn vet was wrong. Skeeta set the stage for Ray’s treatment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cats and dogs (and no doubt many other creatures) are far more adaptable than we might think. I remember seeing a dog with no back legs happily running along with his rear supported by a little 2-wheel cart thingy and yes, Skeeta was certainly a major influence with how to handle Ray’s situation.

      Liked by 1 person

        • You are confusing two different blogs perhaps? Either that or I have written something that is very misleading (it happens)!

          Anyway … to clarify – Ray is my first dog, and he survived the heartworm treatment program. The other pet mentioned was Skeeta. She was a Siamese cat who had to be put to sleep as she had Feline Leukemia.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh, no! I`m sorry… embarrassing…but actually Í`ve got an explanation. I didn`t confuse two blogs. I didn`t notice that Skeeta was your cat. In fact, I am currently almost “blind” – literally. I`ve got huge problems with my eyes that are recovering. Till this healing process is not finished I cannot get new eye glasses or contact lenses. Thus, I am seriously challenged if I read sth….admittedly I am scanning posts at the time. During last days I started squinting and feeling dizzy because my eyes are so much stressed….Hopefully I`ll get new eye glasses soon. Sorry for my mistake.
            Of course, I feel with you also because of the loss of your cat.

            Liked by 1 person

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