10 January

Rough Day For Gus. For A Better Tomorrow

by Jon Katz
Rough Day For Gus

Today, another rough day for Gus, he vomited or  regurgitated a half dozen times, and seems to be having trouble keeping any of his food down. Last week, we ordered two high benches designed by veterinary internists for dogs with ME (megaesophagus) and this morning, I spoke with a veterinary internist from Pennsylvania who specializes in megaesophagus.

I went over all of our treatment  and nutrition ideas and practices for Gus, and she said they were thorough and wise, she said we were doing all we could do. If necessary we will take Gus to see her, or someone closer. Gus is sluggish this morning, not himself. Our vet recommended giving him smaller chunks of food, and less of it today.

This is a puzzle for us, as Gus has really been doing well most days. He seems to be in a rough patch. Tomorrow, we meet with our vet and will go over Gus’s treatment. We are just beginning to understand this disease, and are working hard to figure out what to do.

I’ve spent hours online going over individual testimonies and accounts and am communicating with several veterinary internists.

I’m also receiving some of the first inevitable hate mail from people who use their alleged love of animals as a vehicle for being cruel to humans.

“Seems you are still not using a Bailey chair or Procollar,” wrote one woman who claims to be an advocate for dogs with ME, “Perhaps it is time to set aside your ego and do what is proven to work for more dogs than any other techniques. Since the invention of the Bailey chair these dogs can have normal life spans and a great quality of life, For Gus’ sake I hope so. Can’t wait to be blasted on your blog.”
After years of writing about dogs and other animals, I know this kind of message is inevitable. It always does surprise me that people who have never meet me or Maria or Gus or even seen him, let alone diagnose him, believe they love him more than Maria and I do, or suggest we would let him suffer and die because we don’t choose to do precisely what they did or tell us to do.
There will, of course, be more messages like that, I’m surprised this was the first.
I agree with Hannah Arendt, the great moral philosopher who wrote that hypocrites  the lowest form of life. The hypocrite’s crime is that he or she bears false witness against him or herself. What makes hypocrisy the vice of all vices is that integrity can exist under the cover of all other vices but this one. Only crime and the criminal confront us with the perplexity of radical evil, but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.
In many corners of the diverse animal world, it has become acceptable to evoke a love for animals as a means of inflicting great hurt and cruelty on people who chose to follow their own instincts and make their own decisions and love in their own way.
They seem devoid of empathy and decency when it comes to people, hiding behind animals as an excuse to be cruel and insensitive. This morning, Maria and I sat crying with Gus as we took turns holding him upright and hoping he could digest his food and stopped spitting it up. There was vomit all over our house as we seek ways to help him and heal him, from special chairs to new food to whatever else might work.
I have a pretty thick hide when it comes to e-mails from strangers, but how can it not hurt when you are so worried about a creature you love to hear messages like that, as if you don’t care or are somehow guilty. Of course we would get a Bailey Chair or a Rocking Chair or any kind of chair if that was all it took to make Gus well.  Whatever motivates people like that, it is not love, not in the name of animals or people.
If that is what it means to love a dog, I’ll get some birds or lizards.
And of course, in the new America, this woman, young I imagine, convinced of her own moral superiority and humanity, accuses us of not caring about our dog or permitting him to suffer out of ego (a/k/a not doing what she is telling us to do.) I am sure she believes she is a passionate warrior for animals, I am sure her trust has been broken somehow along the way.
I asked this woman why she choose to be hateful rather than helpful, and she offered that she had lost two dogs to ME, and believed that her vets had nothing to offer her. It was a revealing exchange, and I came to understand her. I urged her to try to be helpful in the future, and not hurtful to people in this sad predicament. I hope she will, my guess is she has a big heart.
She is, of course, hoping to be blasted on my blog, I imagine that this is what she loves as much or much more than my dog. She doesn’t deserve it, and is not worth it. I told her she is better than this.
Tomorrow, we will both meet with Dr. Fariello and I’ll share the plan, we don’t have all that many new options.
Hopefully, Gus will be better by then, I’ll experiment this afternoon with smaller amounts of food and we will, of course, continue his medications and be holding him upright for many minutes of the day. We also need more bleach and Odor Off.
It’s an up and down disease, perhaps the next day or so will be the up chapter. Thanks for all the hundreds of good wishes, it is always good to be reminded that there are so many good people in the world and that empathy and compassion live.
Gus just threw up on the rug, I need to go clean it up.


    1. No, we make the best decisions we can after consulting the best people we can find, and I do not look back on them, but forward and into life. If I did not do that, I would never do anything at all. There are 100 things we could try, and it would ruin me if I regretted not doing all of them.

  1. I recently adopted a cat with IBS. Although not as serious as the disease facing Gus I really understand the ups and downs of a chronic condition. After a week of doing well Willow went backwards today. I have learned to wait and see before trying a new food. So sorry people are judging you. Because I chose not to have my 10 year old cat biopsied to check for cancer (not much they could do if it is) you would think I was the devil. Ah well, I wish you well and hugs to all of you.

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