t is a heartbreaking decision, one nearly every pet owner must make at some time. Cindy’s dog, Otis, was suffering a losing battle with cancer. Cindy agonized: should she euthanize? Turning to a Buddhist listserve for advice, she posted the following:

Last May, when my dog Otis manifested symptoms of distress and trauma, an ultrasound revealed a large mass in the area of his right adrenal gland. Several veterinary experts agreed that surgery would be tremendously risky, and if he lived through it, there was no promise of any benefit. They gave him three to four months to live. We didn’t choose to do surgery.

Over the past eleven months, Otis and I have met a number of wonderful people who have treated him with acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathic, and other alternative therapies. Otis has enjoyed these months of life. We have had the gift of each other’s presence for longer than anyone thought.

But now he is failing. The tumor has invaded the vena cava, and the experts believe that he has begun to bleed internally. So far it seems that the bleeding is slow or somewhat intermittent, and he is rallying to accommodate it. He has periods of rapid breathing and what appear to be distress and discomfort. Then his breathing slows and he rests. These episodes do not appear to be painful as such, but who knows?

He still gets up and asks to go outside. He has spent most of this morning outside in the backyard, lying in the snow, resting and observing the world around him. He loves the snow. He has not eaten today.

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