A New School of Thought

—The Broken Oreo Philosophy—

As I sit here, in the University Veterinary Emergency Room, my mind is racing. The doc just came in the room and said in her most caring and sympathetic voice, “I’m concerned about his quality of life.” Code: His life may not be worth living.

I’m devastated for a split second before my common sense kicks in. Wait, what?

Following are the thoughts that raced through my head in that split second before our conversation continued:

A few days ago, at our regular vet, Dallas had x-rays done. The radiographs showed that Dallas had subluxation and necrosis of the femoral head. This means the end of his leg bone, where it attaches to the hip, was dislocated and is no longer a healthy piece of bone. We knew this going in to the Emergency Room visit, but were looking and hoping for specialized insight as to what could be done about it. A hip replacement? A procedure called an FHO? Poppin’ the dislocated sucker back into place and callin’ it good? All possible options.

Let me introduce you to a few fellow dogs whose lives are well worth living.

These amazing and awe inspiring dogs prove that dogs are capable of incredible adaptation.

With so many dogs living fulfilled lives despite physical deformities, in my opinion it takes gusto to come in to the room where a woman and her three legged dog await, and state that the loss of another, fairly useless, limb is concern enough for the quality of life discussion.

Now, I’m not dogging (dogging... get it?) on that vet in particular, I’m sure this is probably just an outdated stance taught in schools.

Too many missing parts = bad.

I get it. It made sense back when technology for use on animals was limited and dogs were “just dogs.” But that school of thought doesn’t make sense anymore, and I want to change it.

It should be-

Too many missing VITAL parts= bad.

Vital is the keyword here. Legs, not vital. Tails, not vital. Ears, eyes, toes, even noses, not vital. Dogs are family members these days. The industry for animal prosthetics and assistive devices is booming. We go to extraordinary lengths to make them comfortable. Why do we do this? Because most of us know dogs aren’t the vain creatures that humans are. They don’t care what they look like; they could be a legless, eyeless, earless, BLOB, and as long as they had love, they’d be happy. Love is vital. (And most major organs, but that would have thrown off the whole punch of that punchline… and also, duh.)

What I’m wondering is how many pet parents have gone into a vet and been told death would be better than a missing limb? I’m seasoned with the whole disabilities schtick and her comments even momentarily jarred me. How many pets have been put down because an owner was given old school info?

I want to change attitudes and bring awareness to the fact that dogs are incredibly resilient creatures. There are options that should be discussed before dishing out the quality of life lecture. Humans can be vegetables, kept alive by machines without brain activity or self regulating hearts and their loved ones will still fight for them; yet here we are, still suggesting euthanasia for a missing leg on our beloved pets.

Back with the doc in the small, high end university vet exam room, my mind was thinking all the those things and my lips were tightly closed so I wouldn’t ask if she was serious, while she was explaining that Dallas was not a candidate for several corrective procedures because of his unique body, and that not much could be done to fix the femur. “What if we just get rid of it?” I finally managed to ask.

“That’s possible... “ the doc stammered.

Her face when I cavalierly said, “Okay, then we’ll amputate it,” was bordering shock. She couldn’t believe I was so blasé about the whole ordeal.

Now don’t get me wrong, I much prefer Dallas to retain the leg and work hard to get it to work, but if it’s a goner, then it’s a goner. I know Dallas better than anyone, and I know he will hardly notice it’s missing. He’s got all the love in the world and people willing to treat him like more than “just a dog.”

Every dog deserves the benefit of the doubt, as an owner or animal lover we must be their advocates. Let this be a notice: dogs don’t care how they look. They care about much simpler things like love and happiness. There is a time and place for the ol’ QOL discussion that we all dread; but this was not and should not have been one of those times. We all need to realize there are limits, but also realize that sometimes, limits are dumb.

-Broken Oreos are the best.

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