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I Shaba learned just last night that my dog, Shaba, an 11-1/2 year old Yellow Lab/Golden Retriever (we think) had diabetes. She also suffered from significant spinal changes that have left her over the past number of years with an inability to climb stairs, run and sometimes walk. I knew over the past week or two that something was wrong when she refused to eat and was drinking large quantities of water. She was on Dexamethasone for her arthritis, glucosamine/chondroitin and Pet-Tabs vitamins.

Last August she had surgery to remove a mass near her spleen and had what the vet called a "mottled liver." She recovered from the surgery without any complications, but remained very sedentary.

We have three small children, ages 5, 8 and 10, who never have really experienced the joy of an active, involved pet. Shaba was my pet, given to me by my husband for Christmas the year I miscarried our first child. She helped us through the next couple of years once the children came and I had complications with nearly every pregnancy. As an animal lover, I am sure you know how unconditionally pets love us and we returned the favor.

This morning I happened upon your website and was shocked and saddened to read how many animals suffer from this disease...and the lengths people go to to keep their pets alive and well. I felt compelled to write to you because I, unlike most of your readers, chose not to put my pet, and my family, through the rigors of diabetic treatment. While I know that her diabetes could have been managed, it could only have been so had our young family been willing to make some serious sacrifices.

No one loved their pet more than I loved Shaba, but in the end, the decision was made to put her down this morning so that she wouldn't be subject to the inevitable suffering she would endure in the months and years ahead. I really believe that part of loving an animal is knowing when to let go. When all was said and done, she would still be an 11-1/2 year old dog with arthritis and diabetes. And because she was a Lab mix, Rimadyl would not have been an option for her to control her arthritis, according to my vet. He said the best he could do for her was to give her buffered aspirin. I left his office feeling deeply saddened but confident that we had done what was right for her. I know in my heart that she would not have fared well and would have had a tremendous amount of difficulty just walking.

My heart goes out to the pet owners and pets who suffer with this malady. Your website, and its contributors, helped me to put Shaba's diagnosis in perspective and make one of the most difficult decisions of my life. But it also gave me the courage to do what I thought best for her and my family. I hope that my story may do the same for someone else.

-- Contributed by Sally

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Contributed June 2001
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