How can you admit you can't help your best friend?
I've been struggling with writing about this topic since right before I left for BlogHer'13. I've wanted to post about this on my own blog, but it almost feels too embarassing to admit. I thought about tweeting or Facebooking on the topic, but I was afraid of the judgement and embarassment that would make me feel.
My family has a dog named Max. He's a 9.5 year old Bichon, and he's my furbaby. He's a diva, and he knows it. When he was a puppy, he refused to learn how to "sit" or "stay" or "lie down." His first trick was learned in a moment of amusing frustration where I held a treat and told him to shut the refrigerator door. He body slammed the fridge closed with his 10lb puppy body, and from that point on we would randomly hear him body slammed into doors that were left open in order to earn a treat. He loves to "dance pretty," and he starts his mornings by begging for a tummy rub.
Right before I left for Chicago, the inevitable was diagnosed at his annual check up: He had developed a cataract in his one eye and could only see cloudy shadows and shapes out of it. We had originally been blaming his stumbling around on his need for a grooming-- he has an adorable tuff of hair that falls over his eyes when it's a smidge too long--but we could no longer pretend his aging hadn't begun. Since that Friday morning diagnosis, only 2.5 weeks have passed. In that time, Maxie has gotten worse. He can barely see where he's going. He started losing control over his bladder, and we had to get him doggie wraps-- jockstrap-looking things that are basically a diaper for male dogs without covering his butt. His stomach descended, and he's in obvious pain if we touch him. He wasn't eating for a few days-- a major point of upset for us-- but he's been eating his food again for the past few days, which is good. We've been making him drink water, and lifting him into his bed since he wimpers and can barely hop into it. He no longer barks at anyone who rings our doorbell or enters our house, and he doesn't get a mischevious look on his face or try to jump on top of the couch to perch like a cat and look out the window, something he has done multiple times a day for 9 years.
Our "puppy" has turned from our silly dog Maxie into an old dog virtually overnight. While I haven't been able to say it outloud until tonight, I worry that every night is his last.
What sucks the most about everything is, best case scenario, minus his ailments, he's supposed to be living for another 3-6 years.
And we can't do anything to help him because we can't afford to.
We can take him to the vet, but everything else the visit will most likely entail-- x-rays, possible surgery, anesthesia, treatments, etc-- is money we don't have. We're your average American family. On paper, we look like we get by just fine. But the cost of living allows us to just get by lately. We can't afford potentially thousands of dollars in vet bills, and even when I looked into it, Maxie doesn't qualify for pet insurance because he's over 9 years old. (When he turned 9 on May 24th, he was in perfect health.)
I can't bring myself to talk about this to my family, my friends, my girlfriend, or even on my blog. I feel like a failure because we can't afford to help "man's best friend." I know we're not the only family in this situation, but it makes my heart ache and my eyes flood to even think about Maxie being in pain or dying because we can't afford to help him.
Nobody said watching your pet get older would be this tough.