No homestead is complete without animals. Whether its goats or dogs, most homesteads have some type of animal living there.
On our homestead we currently have 4 humans, 3 dogs, 1 rabbit, and 5 chickens. We also have plans to have at least 1 bee hive and possibly a couple goats. And those are just our current aspirations.
Our oldest dog, Bonnie, was diagnosed with Lymphoma at the beginning of this year. I knew something was wrong when I found golf ball sized lumps on my girl’s throat.
I avoided taking her into the vet at first. I couldn’t bear the thought of hearing the words I knew I would hear. But of course I had to put my fur baby’s well-being before my own.
The vet took samples of the lumps and within a week I had a confirmation of Lymphoma. My heart was broken. When I received the news my daughters were in school so , thank goodness, they didn’t see me break down.
For a few weeks I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I couldn’t make the words come out of my mouth. I didn’t want to hear myself say them because then it would be real. I kept it a secret from my daughters. I hid in the bathroom and cried then blamed my puffy eyes on allergies. I didn’t tell my friends or family. In fact, some of them may just now be learning this news.
I still haven’t told my children (for those of you who know my girls please respect this decision and do not speak to them about it, thank you). I know that one day I will have to tell them, but what is the point of telling them now when Bonnie shows no signs of illness or discomfort? Why would I upset my, still young, daughters? I see no point in my daughters grieving until the time has come to grieve .
Part of life is death and that is very much a part of a homestead or farm. Yes, raising chicks into chickens is adorable and fun but it is also a huge responsibility. When you bring a living creature into your care, you have to put that animals well-being before your own.
I went into owning chickens knowing that one day I will cull them when they stop producing eggs or if I end up with an aggressive rooster. On most homesteads an animal has to produce more than it costs or it will not be a part of the homestead any longer. Thats just a fact, Jack. You don’t take chickens to the vet if they are ill or injured. You put their well-being and comfort first and either nurse them back to health or put them out of their misery. I don’t have experience raising other live stock, but I know that a cow or a goat or pig, etc. would, in most circumstances, be treated the same way.
A dog, in my opinion, is different. Most people have dogs as companions and they are part of the family. They live in your house. They greet you when you come home. They go for rides in the truck. They play with your kids and lick your toes. They lay with you when you are ill and set their heads in your lap when you are sad. Dogs are amazing creatures that I believe, without a doubt, have souls.
When a dog is ill you have to take it to the vet. Wether you can afford it or not.
When you find out your dog is terminally ill you have to decide if you are going to pay for treatment or keep her comfortable until its time to leave this world.
I chose not to treat Bonnie. Chemotherapy would be the best option, and I don’t want to put her through that. She is 9 and a half years old. Shes had a great life filled with lots of love and adventures. Most dogs with lymphoma only live a few months after their diagnosis. DOgs that do get treatment live, on average, for an additional 1 to 1 and a half years. But the norm is an additional 6 months.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you will have to weigh the options for yourself.
We have our vet on call for when we feel SHE is ready to go. We’re lucky enough to have a vet that will make house calls when putting an animal to sleep. We know that when Bonnie stops interacting with us, has lethargy, stops eating or using the bathroom that we may need to call Dr.Panada.
For now, we have been giving her extra love, attention (and ice cream!!!) and enjoying the time we have with her.
*Update: After 8 months of fighting lymphoma, We had Bonnie euthanized. Her illness suddenly progressed quickly.
She was at home with her family when she passed. She is buried on our property. She took a huge part of our hearts with her.
You can read the story of her last days on earth, here. *