Dram was not destined to have a long life. He developed a small lump on his chest. It remained small for a long time and the vet said that it didn’t seem to be bothering him and if it wasn’t bothering us we could ignore it. In retrospect we concluded that this had been bad advice and that the lump should have been removed while it was small. Eventually it began to grow. Basically the vets adopted a wait and see attitude and long after they could have sorted the problem they announced that its size and location made it too dangerous to operate – and there was no treatment.
In those final months Dram behaved perfectly normally almost to the very end. He had always approached life with enthusiasm, welcoming each new day energetically, greeting us on our return from shopping trips etc. with boundless excitement and helping to cheer us when times were difficult. None of this changed and all I was concerned about was that, when the time came, his end would be swift and as painless as possible.
On a Sunday in December 1997 he ate only half of his breakfast and none of his evening meal. This was serious, even though in other respects he behaved normally, trotting across our front lawn at the end of his evening walk, tail up, as if without a care in the world. Later, though, he became restless and I stayed up with him all night, able to do little but keep him company and take him out when he seemed to need it.
By breakfast time the following day my duty to Dram was clear. To his credit the vet came very quickly and it was all over in no time.
Lots of dog owners will have had to make the same decision. It was awful and all the more so because it was December 9th, his ninth birthday.