Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Dog Faces Death: ‘This Is Awesome!’

 

My dog is dying. He has cancer in his shoulder. We’re all very upset. Well, all of us except the dog.

We got Griffin at the pound when he was about three years old or so, we think, so he’s probably about 10 years old now. Or so. He looks like a black Lab, but I think he’s just a mutt. He won’t get near water, and when I throw a ball he gives me this questioning look as if to say, “That was a perfectly good ball. Why did you throw it all the way over there?” I’ve only seen him swim once, and that was when I threw him in our pool (I just wanted to see if he was able to swim). So he looks like a Lab, but I think he’s a mix of heaven knows what. He’s been a great dog. He’s very friendly and social. Everybody loves Griffin.

I have friends who brag about how smart their dog is. “Cornelius is such a smart Schnizterdoodle! He can sit, roll over, and do multivariable calculus!” You will not hear me describe Griffin like that. He has the strength of an ox and the brains of tapioca pudding. He is always happy because he’s been blessed with the ability to enjoy the world around him without understanding anything about it. So this cancer thing has been wonderful for him.

He started limping about a year ago. We finally took him to the vet a few months ago, and they found a cancer in his shoulder that is untreatable. They could remove his front leg, and that might buy him six months. But it might not. So we brought him home. With all his legs intact. He was so happy that he jumped out of the car and ran over to pee on the tree that he always pees on.

It was a stellar day in Griffin’s world. This is awesome!

And it only got better. Now he gets lots of treats. Not just from us. Our next-door neighbors are spoiling their grand-dog with so many treats that he’s gaining weight. She goes to the butcher to get bones for him with lots of meat still on them. Other neighbors make special trips over to our house with biscuits. The FedEx lady missed him today and came back around later to give Griffin his daily treat. His mommy even lets him up on the couch now.

Every day he’s amazed by his good fortune.

He’s having more and more trouble walking, and can’t get around like he used to. But Griffin thinks all this is swell. As he gets fatter and fatter from all the treats, while laying around on our couch. Like me.

In my line of work, I spend a lot of time with people who are dying. I try to buy time, and make them feel better, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do. Most of them, I think, aspire to approach death like Griffin. Enjoy the time they have left. Have an extra cookie. Spend more time on the couch with your loved ones. Why spoil your few remaining days with worry and unhappiness?

But this is very difficult for most people. They know what’s happening to them, and they’re naturally obsessed with their own mortality at such a time. Griffin’s lack of understanding makes it easy for him. Griffin has no idea what’s happening around him, and he doesn’t care. But he would like another biscuit, please.

Sure, why not?

Ah, what a stellar day, thinks Griffin! This is awesome!

Some day in the near future we’ll need to take Griffin back to the vet, and end his life. Griffin won’t understand that either, but that will be a great day for him too. Because he’ll get lots of treats and petting that day, and those things make him happy.

It’s been fascinating to me, watching Griffin get weaker and weaker, while becoming happier and happier, because he’s getting more and more treats. The end is coming for him, but as long as he keeps getting treats, and can sit on the couch once in a while, that’s ok with him. He doesn’t really understand what’s happening around him.

But he understands treats. Everything else is beyond his control. So he focuses on his treats. This is awesome!

In an unrelated matter, a friend of mine told me last month that she was voting Democrat because Biden said that everyone would get free healthcare, and she expected him to extend her unemployment (she’s a waitress who lost her job during the COVID crisis). I told her that it was dangerous to ignore the long-term implications of economic policies. She said she doesn’t know anything about economics, but she knows that she wants more unemployment benefits. There are more jobs available now, but she’s making more on unemployment than she was as a waitress, and she’d rather sit on the couch and eat treats. Like Griffin. Makes sense to me.

So she votes Democrat. And she gets her treats. Everything else is beyond her control. So she focuses on her treats. This is awesome!

Eh, never mind. I forgot where I was going with that. Forgive me. My dog is dying. I’m very upset. But my dog thinks everything is awesome!

I wish I shared his lack of understanding of the world around him. I’d probably be a happier person.


Postscript:

When I finished this essay, I wondered which group of people would be most angry with me:

  1.  Those who thought that I was comparing Democrats to dogs
  2.  Those who thought that I was comparing dogs to Democrats

Just to clarify, I was doing neither.

I was simply trying to point out the power of the Democrat message. They don’t require that you understand economics, or human nature, or the world around you, or anything else. Those things are hard for people. You just have to like treats.

They also don’t require that you understand delayed gratification, or planning for the future, or hard work. Those things are hard for people, too.

But if you like treats, and you don’t think about things too much, voting Democrat can make you happy, like Griffin.

Until it all ends. Like Griffin.

Both of those endings will make me sad.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    How very sweet and so very sad. And I guess I should say yummy, too. Treats!

    Griffin is lucky to have you guys. I expect his delight in life has as much to do with all of you as it does to those treats.

    Then again, maybe not. Thanks for a beautiful story.

    • #1
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:03 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  2. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… Coolidge

    Dang. What a bait and switch! Here I’m thinking that this essay is going to be “We should all strive to be more like Griffin, and not worry about what’s beyond our control and continue to just have awesome days.”

    And it turns out that that wasn’t where it went at all.

    Can I just skip everything after the Roller Coaster?

    Because . . . what I need in life right now is to be more like your dog.

    • #2
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:05 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  3. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… Coolidge

    Knowledge is a burden. Sometimes I think life would be simpler if I didn’t know the things I know.

    This brings me to my grandfather, whose mind was sharp until the end, and hated the fact that his body was failing. He would frequently tell me “It’s hell to be old.” He fought aging for years. I remember him going for walks along the lakeshore by his house, and though he sometimes used a cane, when he went out to walk along the lake, he held his cane up in the air defiantly, daring gravity to take him. (I don’t think it ever did.)

    I suspect I’m going to be just like him. I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

    • #3
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:15 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m sorry to hear about Griffin, Doc.

    • #4
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:25 AM PDT
    • 19 likes
  5. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    Percival (View Comment):

    I’m sorry to hear about Griffin, Doc.

    Thanks.

    He’s ok. I don’t think he’s in pain. Although he tries to keep the weight off his front leg, like in the picture below. I don’t think it hurts – it’s just floppy – his right front leg doesn’t really work anymore. But he gets around surprisingly well on 3 legs.

    He’s a 100 pound dog, that’s probably over 10 years old. He’s had a good run.

    But it’s sad to see him leave.

    • #5
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:31 AM PDT
    • 18 likes
  6. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge

    I have sometimes envied dogs’ ability to not care about things. They don’t worry about the future, and they have no ego.

    Most impressive to me is that they don’t question things; they just adapt to their circumstances, and they don’t waste any time asking why? Some years back we had an Australian Shepherd who developed a type of rapid-growing tumor on her right-front leg. The vet was able to remove the tumor a couple of times, but it always regrew, and eventually there was no alternative but to amputate the leg. She was thirteen years old, so he normally wouldn’t have even considered amputation, but she was a very youthful thirteen, so he thought it was worth doing.

    It was an agonizing decision for us, because we felt like we were doing something horrible to her that she wouldn’t understand. But the thing is, she didn’t care. The day after the surgery, she was still in pain and unable to get to her feet, but she still wagged her tail when we approached her. Within a week she was climbing the stairs again. It’s as if she noticed that her leg was gone, thought “Hmm, that’s odd, guess I’ll have to learn how to walk again,” and then never gave it a thought. She lived another five happy years.

    • #6
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:33 AM PDT
    • 24 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  7. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dr. Bastiat: Those who thought that I was comparing dogs to Democrats

    Yeah, that would be an unfair comparison, but then . . .

     

     

    • #7
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:36 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  8. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… (View Comment):

    Dang. What a bait and switch! Here I’m thinking that this essay is going to be “We should all strive to be more like Griffin, and not worry about what’s beyond our control and continue to just have awesome days.”

    And it turns out that that wasn’t where it went at all.

    Can I just skip everything after the Roller Coaster?

    Because . . . what I need in life right now is to be more like your dog.

    Yeah, that was what I was trying to illustrate. It’s so beautiful and romantic, like that great country song, “Live Like You Were Dying.” And it really is beautiful. Don’t worry! Be happy!

    But there are limitations to Taoism.

    If you just bend like the reed in the stream, and go with the flow, that’s not always a good long term plan. Life is complicated.

    If I understood it, I wouldn’t waste my time trying to figure it out by writing about it.

    • #8
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:36 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    • #9
    • October 16, 2020, at 8:41 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dr. Bastiat: So she votes Democrat. And she gets her treats. Everything else is beyond her control. So she focuses on her treats.

    Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day.

    Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

    Create a government program to give away fish and you’ll create a permanent underclass that will vote for whoever promises the most fish.

    • #10
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:03 AM PDT
    • 17 likes
  11. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: So she votes Democrat. And she gets her treats. Everything else is beyond her control. So she focuses on her treats.

    Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day.

    Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

    Create a government program to give away fish and you’ll create a permanent underclass that will vote for whoever promises the most fish.

    Create a government program to give away fish and you’ll create an activist class that says it’s racist to force poor people to eat fish.

    • #11
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:04 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  12. Chuck Thatcher

    You keep writing like this and you’re gonna give doctors a good name.

    • #12
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:06 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  13. Stad Thatcher

    Sorry to hear about Griffin, so give him an extra treat for us, okay?

    • #13
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:13 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  14. KentForrester Moderator

    Doc, I love the way you took us into Griffin’s mind. All he knows is that he’s getting more treats than ever and that he’ll live forever.

    And he will. All dogs go to Heaven, I’ve heard it said, and I want to believe it to be true. The universe doesn’t make any sense unless it is true. 

    • #14
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:15 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  15. PHCheese Member

    Sorry Doc. I am on my 17th dog and it’s never easy losing one.

    Here is one of Jack
    • #15
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:42 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  16. Bishop Wash Member

    Dr. Bastiat: He looks like a black Lab, but I think he’s just a mutt. He won’t get near water, and when I throw a ball he gives me this questioning look as if to say, “That was a perfectly good ball. Why did you throw it all the way over there?” I’ve only seen him swim once, and that was when I threw him in our pool (I just wanted to see if he was able to swim).

    Like the lab mutt we had many years ago. Our housing at the time would close the pool at the end of the season and the next day it would be open for dogs before draining it for winter. I thought it would be great and she hated it. Wouldn’t go in. Finally, I got in to coax her but my wife ended up having to push her. She hopped right out and we went back home.

    • #16
    • October 16, 2020, at 9:47 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Dave L Member
    Dave L Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Sorry about Griffin Doc. When the time comes you might consider a Veterinarian service that comes to your house if you are so inclined. Our boy Nico absolutely hated to go to the Vet, he would start trembling as soon as we pulled into the parking lot. When it was his time the Vet came to our house, was very compassionate and explained everything. Nico went calmly in his own bed with family all around.

    • #17
    • October 16, 2020, at 10:26 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  18. kedavis Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    I’m sorry to hear about Griffin, Doc.

    That’s clever in a way, but the… not implication… the assertion, or insinuation, that socialism WORKS, is an error.

    • #18
    • October 16, 2020, at 11:10 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    I’m sorry to hear about Griffin, Doc.

    That’s clever in a way, but the… not implication… the assertion, or insinuation, that socialism WORKS, is an error.

    Oh, it works alright. There are the mice, who get what they deserve, and the ones who set the trap, who perhaps get what they deserve when the socialism ends.

    • #19
    • October 16, 2020, at 11:28 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    I’m sorry to hear about Griffin, Doc.

    That’s clever in a way, but the… not implication… the assertion, or insinuation, that socialism WORKS, is an error.

    It works as a trap.

    • #20
    • October 16, 2020, at 11:29 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. kedavis Member

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    I’m sorry to hear about Griffin, Doc.

    That’s clever in a way, but the… not implication… the assertion, or insinuation, that socialism WORKS, is an error.

    It works as a trap.

    I just think the wording needs to be adjusted.

    • #21
    • October 16, 2020, at 11:32 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m still waiting for Ceausescu: The Musical.

    • #22
    • October 16, 2020, at 11:47 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. JesseMcVay Coolidge

    I don’t even know your dog, but I love him. That’s the wonderful thing about dogs.

    • #23
    • October 16, 2020, at 11:57 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  24. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… Coolidge

    Percival (View Comment):

    I’m still waiting for Ceausescu: The Musical.

    Book by Charlie Sykes?

    • #24
    • October 16, 2020, at 12:00 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… Coolidge

    JesseMcVay (View Comment):

    I don’t even know your dog, but I love him. That’s the wonderful thing about dogs.

    Nobody doesn’t love black labs. They’re the very essence of “dog.”

    • #25
    • October 16, 2020, at 12:01 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  26. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… Coolidge

    • #26
    • October 16, 2020, at 12:07 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  27. Doctor Robert Member

    Unless there is great suffering, why put the animal to sleep? Mrs Doc Robert’s cat Lily developed renal failure at 17. We saw her deteriorate and, being physicians both, like Dr B, knew that death was imminent. We spent a night at home with Lily on Mrs Doc R’s lap and she just faded away from life, in the company of two people who loved her.

    Not a bad model for any of us.

    • #27
    • October 16, 2020, at 12:24 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  28. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If your dog gets grumpy, it’s time. Animals tend to bite their helpers when the pain gets too much. I’m sure you have had similar patients. Dogs have better teeth. 

    That joy and loyalty is why people love dogs. I have known people too who were at peace despite constant debilitating pains. Physical pains are easier to bear than emotional ones, like loss of a loved one or anxiety about finances. But happiness does seem to be born of personality and worldview more than of circumstances. 

    Dr. Bastiat: He won’t get near water, and when I throw a ball he gives me this questioning look as if to say, “That was a perfectly good ball. Why did you throw it all the way over there?” I’ve only seen him swim once, and that was when I threw him in our pool (I just wanted to see if he was able to swim).

    I bet he doesn’t like your family swimming either. “Get out! Get out! You’ll drown, you fools!”

    • #28
    • October 16, 2020, at 12:33 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    And he will. All dogs go to Heaven, I’ve heard it said, and I want to believe it to be true. The universe doesn’t make any sense unless it is true. 

    I’m convinced that dogs are way ahead of us in line at the pearly gates. 

    • #29
    • October 16, 2020, at 1:04 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. kedavis Member

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    And he will. All dogs go to Heaven, I’ve heard it said, and I want to believe it to be true. The universe doesn’t make any sense unless it is true.

    I’m convinced that dogs are way ahead of us in line at the pearly gates.

    And cats. If cats aren’t in heaven, I ain’t goin’!

    • #30
    • October 16, 2020, at 1:38 PM PDT
    • 4 likes