Macho is the 15 year old pit mix I adopted in June who needs hospice care. He’s old, he’s feeble, he has extensive arthritis and advanced lymphoma and came through vestibular disease with a permanently shaky sense of balance and a head tilt. He also has a zest for life, a wonderful sense of adventure and exploration, a sense of humor, he’s devilishly handsome, and he makes me laugh every single day.
One of the things I have always admired in Macho is his tremendous will and determination. Even in his poor physical condition, if he wants to do something: he does it. If there are stairs he wants to climb, they will be conquered. If he wants to get to something on the street to check it out, he won’t stop until he brings me over so he can investigate. He has an amazing, powerful drive.
Last night I thought Macho was done. He’d had several days of bloody diarrhea, and had settled in on his bed and could not move. He could not stand, or walk, or get out of his own waste without help. He refused food and water. After a day of this I called to make his euthanasia appointment, thinking his cancer had reached the end stage.
This morning I woke up and he popped up off of his bed and walked to the front door. He took his walk with the other dogs and when we came back from the walk he wanted breakfast. His vet was due to arrive in an hour and I called her to cancel – she was so happy for him.
I have taken care of many dogs, including many dogs at the end of their lives, and I’ve never seen a dog bounce back who was as bad as Macho. I’m left once again to marvel at the sheer force of his will. He’s trying to beat cancer with it, and some days he’s winning.
I accept what is inevitable and I know that Macho doesn’t have many good days left in his life.
But he’ll have today.