I’ll be heading off to Costa Rica today for the longest spate of time I can recall taking off since I trucked through Europe back when I was still in school. For my birthday! Even so, it’s only seven days. Not long enough to recover from last week’s hard-luck cases.

Yes, if ever I needed a reason for a real vacation, I can always turn to these:

1. The old dog with the mass lurking in his vena cava, thereby painfully occluding his circulation. Enough money to keep him alive and provide palliative measures — but not enough to buy him definitive care.

2. The very sick young dog waiting for a slow lab to get off their butts and read a slow mail carrier-delivered fine needle aspirate. (For the record, ‘twas the emergency hospital’s lab and carrier of choice, proving yet again that expensive isn’t always better.)

It’s almost certainly lymphoma, but the owner really wants to know before deciding whether to see the oncologist or not. Meanwhile, he gets treated to less-than-effective palliative care at our place when he should undeniably be at the oncologist’s by now.

3. The old cat who wanted to die whenever he’d go home. At home, he’d stop eating. He’d act all mopey and depressed. In the hospital, however, he’d perk up. He’d eat. He’d purr. He’d act normal. His buddy had died months ago, right around the time this behavior began.  A new kitten hadn’t worked.

Now the problem has gotten so that fatty liver disease is threatening to claim him. Obviously he wants to die. So do you help him?

4. The cat whose mammary tumor is threatening to engulf her lungs too. Her owner wants her saved at all costs. Surgery and chemo, nothing less. Meanwhile, kitty is near agonally terminal. I don’t know how to convince this guy, as we stand there actually watching his cat die, that even if I had the euthanasia solution in my hands right now, it would be a race to see whether her body’s throes or my syringe would manage the job first.

These four veterinary delights brought to you courtesy of my extensive annals of human-on-animal-half-measures and the just-because-we-can-doesn’t-mean-we-should files.

I hope I’ve now established the extremes to which some vacations may be categorized as long overdue. Luckily, I've pre-posted for all of next week so that you'll have lots of fun, new posts to consume. Enjoy! (I know I will.)

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: "four kittens - what a joy" by Tom Poe