Animal Clinic of Kalispell - November 2019




This month, I’m sad to report that we’ve lost Teton. At the end of March, Teton was diagnosed with lymphoma. This wasn’t unusual for a 9-year-old golden retriever, but we got him started on chemotherapy, and he was in remission for 4 1/2 months. In August, a CT scan revealed he’d developed a new lump in his throat. He was still feeling good and we continued chemo, but we knew he was out of remission. The hard thing about dogs with cancer is that they’ll do really well until the day they don’t anymore. With Teton, he crashed over the span of just five days. He started on a downturn the week before Labor Day. Teton didn’t want to eat as much, which wasn’t like him at all. This dog would normally climb counters to get some extra grub. We could see him aging before our eyes and losing weight, but at the time he was still playing with Lincoln, our other dog, and active. So we were cautiously optimistic. Things took a turn when we went camping over Labor Day. Teton lived to camp, but he didn’t want to do anything that last trip. We could get him roused up and excited for a walk, but he’d get sick halfway through then sleep the rest of the day. After we got home, Teton heard me say I was going on an errand and excitedly hopped in the car. He stuck his head out the window for the first two blocks before curling up on the seat for the rest of the trip. I could tell he wasn’t feeling well. When clients come in and ask about euthanasia decisions, I usually encourage them to go home and figure out what they’re dealing with. Euthanasia is practically never an emergency. Decide when you’re ready to say goodbye. With Teton, we weren’t ready to lose him yet, but I could tell his quality of life was waning. I euthanized Teton myself. Euthanasia is one of the most important jobs I have, and I wanted to be right there for him and my family. Even though it was my own dog, I knew Teton couldn’t keep on like he was. That’s not to say it was easy to let him go. I’ve lost pets before, but not like this. With other dogs, we knew the end was coming and when that time came they SUDDEN GOODBYE Farewell to the King of Counter Surfing

really weren’t themselves anymore. With Teton, he was still there. It was really awful to let him go, but I was glad I could be there for him at the end.

When I came back to work on Tuesday (and even now writing this), there were moments when I suddenly found myself overcome with grief. That same day at the clinic, there were three cases of dogs with cancer that had suddenly taken a bad turn. It was rough, and I knew exactly what my clients were going through. It’s okay to grieve the loss of your pet. It’s okay to cry at your desk at work, and it’s okay to not get another pet soon after. We certainly didn’t plan on getting another dog right away, but Lincoln was was so upset by the loss of Teton. He didn’t have his buddy anymore, so he was glued to us, not sure what to do. Around that same time, someone contacted us who had puppies for adoption. That’s how we ended up with Hamilton, our new golden retriever puppy. When we went to pick up Hamilton, we got a little closer after losing Teton so abruptly. The woman who was fostering the puppies happened to be the breeder we got Teton from. She still has Teton’s brother, Remy. When we came by for Hamilton, she brought Remy out to say hi. He is just like Teton, and getting to see him was a bittersweet moment. Being a pet owner means having to say goodbye someday. It’s hard — losing my own dog reminded me how terrible it really is — but you still have all those memories together.

Goodbye Teton, the king of counter surfing. No butter was ever safe from you.



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