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All Things Must Pass

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We got word last night from Gus’s vet: the biopsy result is in, and it’s what we feared. An aggressive, malignant tumor in the skull.

His vet suggested I cancel Thursday’s appointment with the oncologist and surgeon. It won’t do any good, she explained. I just did that, prior to writing this.

His life expectancy? Weeks. He’s in good shape now, as I’ve written. No middle-of-the-night pain attack last night, thank goodness. He slept soundly by my side. Occasionally we awoke together and he licked my hand. The vet warned, however, that his downhill trajectory is going to be rapid. It might involve difficulty breathing, or chewing and digesting his food, depending on where the tumor’s tentacles spread. The pain will increase; later today, I’ll pick up some new, more powerful pain meds as well as a steroidal medication. The steroids, the vet said, will have adverse longterm effects on his organs, but there is no long term for Gus.

And so this is it.

I won’t blog anymore on this topic, until we reach the end. There’s no point in chronicling the day-to-day details of his decline. I’d like to thank, with a sincerity of heart difficult to put into words, how grateful I am to the many people who have expressed sentiments of sympathy to me. So many of you have lost your own pets. Many of you knew Gus and knew how much he meant to me. We made the rounds of wine country together for a decade—Gus was certainly a well-traveled dog!—and I used to joke that he was possibly the most famous wine-critic dog in California. Gus has trod many a vineyard and roamed over many hills and dales from Santa Barbara to the Willammette Valley. He was a lucky dog in that respect.

I have so many memories of these travels. I used to stay regularly in the guesthouse at Bien Nacido Vineyard, which as anyone knows who’s been there is a beautiful piece of land, surrounded by the limestone outcroppings of the San Rafael Mountains. The vineyard is intermingled with a working ranch, and Gus got to see and smell all the animals that grazed so peacefully in the fields, as well as the wilder ones who came out at night. Off-leash, he ran and frolicked in a way he can’t in the city, and I didn’t have to worry about cars.

There are many more memories. But I don’t want to look back just yet. Plenty of time for that in the weeks to come. I want now just to savor our moments together, which are still so sweet and pleasant.

Now the darkness only stays at night time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good
At arriving at the right time
But it’s not always going
To be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
All things must pass away

  1. Steve,my Boston, was diagnosed with the same cancer and my vet in healdsburg was able to get an experimental program grant from UCDavis…I was able to get two more years and it also helped UC develop new therapies.

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