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On a purely personal level it's been a crap year and I cannot wait to see the end of it. Birthdays are cancelled, as is Christmas, all I want to do is consign 2009 to history as soon as possible. Assuming, of course, that 2010 is any better.
On top of everything else that has happened, in June we lost one of our cats (Sooty) after it was discovered she had a tumour. While it was operable - it would have meant her losing a leg - her age (12), together with the fact that there was no guarantee that this would completely cure her, meant that a decision had to be made.
Sooty was the result of Lucky, a cat my wife found in Linlithgow back in 1996. Abandoned because she was pregnant, a few months after bringing her home, Lucky presented us with three kittens, and while we intended to give them to good homes (honest!), we didn't instead we kept all three.
While we were still getting over the loss of Sooty, Lucky developed a strange rasping sound in her throat which appeared to make breathing difficult. A visit to the vet revealed that she too had developed a tumour. This one was not operable and it was made quite clear that it was only a matter of time.
The vet was quite graphic in his description of how things would develop and told me that as soon as I noticed any sign of deterioration I would have to take her back in order that he might end her pain. That very night it was quite clear she was uncomfortable, her breathing was painful to listen to, it was obvious that her time was at an end. Consequently, just over four weeks after we lost Sooty, there was another empty food bowl in the Balfe kitchen.
Making the decision that a pet should be put to sleep is the hardest thing that any animal lover has to make. While you don't want to prolong its pain you do want to explore every avenue in order to see if there is the slightest chance of saving it. There is also the fact that you have to put the animal's best interests before your own because no matter how much you love it, it is unfair to make it endure further discomfort, further pain just because you selfishly want to keep it a few days or weeks longer.
Making such a decision is an act of love, and I have to admit that I have every sympathy with those who would rather see a relative pass away with some degree of dignity rather than having to endure weeks, maybe months, of suffering.
And so, with this in mind, I turn my attention to A1GP, and if ever there was a perfect example that one should be demanding that someone do the kindest thing and put a sick friend out of its misery, this is surely it.
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