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Sorry in advance for writing a mini novel . . . sometimes it helps just to write things out. Five years ago, after spending time with my cousin's chihuahua I decided I wanted one of my own and found Vi through a small dog rescue. A year later my BF decided that he wanted a dog big enough to wrestle with, snuggle, and play with and so he adopted Emerson through a different rescue. Emerson had previously been adopted, but returned because the family didn't feel like she was bonding with them - she liked to be outside hunting too much. You see, she's a whippet beagle or wheagle and her passion in life is to hunt rabbits and squirrels. She came to us a year old and took about a year for her to really bond with us . . . at that time it became obvious that she and my BF had a special bond - to a fault even. I loved Emerson, but I'll admit I was a tad resentful and would call her "the other woman" jokingly. He'd do things like not tell her to get off the couch to make room for me to sit down because he didn't want to disturb her, etc. It took some heated words on my part to get him to understand that *I* come before the dogs. He agreed and said he just had a hard time saying no to her because he knew her life would be short, like dog's lives are in comparison to our own, and wanted to make sure he was making the most of his time with her. I had to finally admit it though . . . Emerson is a special dog . . . you know that type of dog? The one that seems to share some of your personality and you just click with? The one that sticks out in the front of your mind even though you've had other dogs before? Yup, that's Emerson - the once-in-a-lifetime dog that gets along with everyone, you can take anywhere, and everyone loves her. I love our other dogs too mind you and I love the fact that they're different, but I know Emerson is something really special.

About a year and a half ago, Emerson's vet noticed some lumps under her jaw and told the BF to bring her back in if the swelling didn't go down in a week. Obviously it didn't and to the vet's surprise the cancer screening test came back positive for lymphoma on our four year old Emerson. We sobbed, but proceeded to figure out our options for treatment. We decided to go the chemo route because she was so young and the BF could afford it. While she was beginning her first rounds we decided to get another dog to be her companion since she couldn't go to dog parks for a while and loved to play with other dogs. I made the road trip from MN out to Chicago with Emerson and Vi to meet up with my BF so we could adopt Parker, who is also a whippet mix. Parker and Emerson have become close buddies and Parker has proven to be a quirky, affectionate goofball which rounds out our trio nicely. (Vi is a spunky little troublemaker ;))

The chemo treatments were effective, amazingly so, and they have given us another year and four months with Emerson. But as many of you know, lymphoma is a killer and would sneak back silently. She had a first remission, and then a second, and after that we decided to put her on maintenance chemo. There's been a handful of times when I thought we had reached the tipping point of quality of life vs. quantity of life, but then she'd bounce back with another treatment. This week has been different though . . . the tumors in her body aren't swollen this time, but she's tired. She's also beginning to experience a decrease in appetite and in general seems weaker. She *looks* like a cancer patient now. We're going to try a few different things to see if we can't get her to gain some more weight and get some of her energy back, but I know how quickly things can deteriorate with cancer. Just a few days ago she was chasing a rabbit through a dog park for an hour . . . today she will get up to walk somewhere and then lay down right away. She's also wanting to be around us more than she has in the past few months. It makes me wonder if she's "rallying" like people sometimes do before they die? It's just very hard to tell where she is in her end of life process. I made a list of ten things that Emerson loves to do so that when she stops doing them, we know it's time to say goodbye, but the trick is she can literally be at a point where she's not doing most of her loved things one day and then doing all of them the next day when she rebounds. The vet has rescheduled her wednesday appointment for thursday so he can talk with the BF about what is going on. I plan on being there just because I have a gut feeling that it's time for the end of life talk, but perhaps not. I made a few phone calls to see what it would take to have someone come out to the house to put Emerson to rest when the time comes. (I don't want her to pass away nervous and afraid because she doesn't like the vet's office.)

We try to take our dogs every where with us . . . this summer we took them out to the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC, fitted Emerson with a gps collar, and let her roam in the woods and fields near BF's mother's house. It was wonderful watching her do what she loves best. :) I know we're so very lucky to have this additional time with her and to have two other dogs we love to be with, but I don't want to say goodbye. It's me Emerson runs to for safety when she's afraid of thunderstorms and loud noises and I'm the one who poked and prodded the veterinary staff to make sure Emerson's treatments carried through without delay or that her medical papers didn't get lost between clinics . . . I think I might also have to be the one who speaks up and says, "it's time."

I'm assuming other people here have been through terminal cancer with a dog . . . how did you decide it was time to let them go? Was there anything that you think is particularly helpful from your experience? Thanks in advance for listening . . . walking along side someone through their final journey, be it a human or a dog, is never easy.
 

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I have been down that road. It's different for everyone and yet sadly the same in many ways. My heart feels for you. I have some regrets as far as treatment choices but I think that's normal. It's almost a day by day situation sometimes. Sending you lots of strength and support.
 

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I know this is an older thread - I was just hoping that there was some kind of update on Emerson. Hopefully she bounced back and started becoming more lively. Ive been down that road as a child with our miniature schnauzer. Max had his good days and his bad days...Some days we thought he wouldn't make it through the night, but then the next day he was completely normal. It's hard, I'm so very sorry.
 
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