I try to keep all posts here strictly on topic, after all this is Deep-Sea News. So if you are not interested in my personal life and only in the deep sea then stop reading now.
Last year on July 4, I faced the decision that no one with a dog should ever face. The vet looked at me and said, “We can take Moses into surgery and try to find and correct the problem or…” It is the next words that scared me the most, “or put him to sleep.” I never hurt so much except for the day I left him behind at an interstate exit when I asked for directions, not realizing he was missing until 10 miles down the road.
When I graduated from college, my girlfriend (now my wife) and I decided to get a puppy together. We eventually settled on a retriever mutt and I named him Moses. Moses tried all my patience with potty training, running away, and eating various furniture which mainly belonged to my roommate. At the end of the day, I would forget it all and Moses would curl up on the end of my bed. When I moved to New England to attend graduate school, Moses went with me, being my only friend in a new city. I gladly paid more rent and a larger deposit for a smaller place to have him with me. Of course, neither of us ever acclimated to the cold there. Eventually we traveled to the southwest for my first post doc and on to Monterey for my second. I dreamed of the day I could afford an actual house with yard to let him run. That day never came for us.
Two years ago, Moses started having frequent diarrhea. I took him to the vet. We ran tests, forced medications into him, changed diets, and spent more money. When that didn’t work…more tests, more meds, more diet changes, and of course more money. When that didn’t work…new vets. We would get a good month here or there but ultimately Moses became lethargic and lost a substantial amount of weight and muscle mass. “Craig, what do you want to do?”, the vet asked. The surgical option had low probabilities to find the problem, correct it, and for him to make it through. Moses, my wife, and I fought hard but ultimately we all lost. Moses had stopped eating the weekend before maybe indicating that he was tired of the fight. I managed to utter through tears, “I think he has suffered enough.”
A year later it still bothers me. I still miss Moses and I tear up as I type this. I am still pissed because my job is to solve problems but ultimately I couldn’t solve his. I get paid to answer questions but despite all my research and endless hours reading paper after paper, I couldn’t do anything for Moses. When the news first broke of melamine in pet food and the link to several deaths in dogs and cats, part of me hoped this is the missing answer. At least some of the symptoms are the same. Today, some treats and dry food that I fed Moses appeared on the list. The latest is that melamine spiking of pet food may have occured over the last 15 years.
Ultimately, I don’t know if his death is related to melamine in pet food. Too many tests were conducted for the very thorough vet to have missed it. Yet I called the vet today and patiently await an definitive answer. Heads will roll if it is the reason. I should say that my last vet is by far the most competent doctor I have ever met. She was available night and day, both professional and compassionate. I only wish I had met her sooner.
The loss of pet is the loss of friend. The pain is immeasurable and ultimately some ass eventually says “He was just a dog.” We live in society where grief for pet can never compare to the loss of a human. Yet, many experience grief of equal intensity. What do you expect out of society that values wealth to the degree that food manufacturers are driven to add melamine to make it appear their products have more protein than they really do? But lets not just blame Chinese manufacturers, the FDA has managed to botch the entire investigation by dragging its feet and poorly informing the public. The ironic part is that many of the products on the list are considered premium brands. The brand that I fed Moses for 9 years was one of the best. I specifically bought it for that reason…better ingredients, all natural, so on and so forth. I expected not to buy a brand that contained waste from the plastic industry.