Indulge me for a moment as I ramble on for a while about neither bikes nor bike racing. Our dog, Basil, passed away yesterday. He was 13 or maybe 14 years old. And was with us since he was about two, about the same time I started racing cyclocross, to give this the most tenuous of connections to In The Crosshairs. This is Basil’s story.
My wife, Heather, is a veterinarian and at the time we came to have Basil in our life she was working as an emergency vet at a clinic in Annapolis, Maryland. This was 2003.
One day at work, Heather is presented with a dog at the emergency clinic whose owner is convinced has cancer. “He’s scrawny, losing his fur, won’t eat, and is sickly. Dog has cancer,” the owner told Heather.
“Well, let’s examine him and run some test and see if we can come up with a course of care,” Heather responded.
“The kids have already said their goodbyes,” The man told her.
“I don’t understand. You’re dog may be sick, but he’s not dying.”
“The dog has cancer. We’ve said our goodbyes.”
“Sir, your dog doesn’t seem to be suffering and I’m not sure he’s that sick, if sick at all … I’m not going to euthanize him for you.”
“Dog has cancer, doc.”
This goes on for awhile, some initial test are run, and the dog—named Bear—is a bit dehydrated and does have some sort of skin infection. Heather suggests starting the dog on fluids and taking some blood tests.
“We don’t have any money. Our family has already said its goodbyes. Look how scrawny he is.” Refusing to kill this cute yet skinny black lab looking dog, Heather did something she has only been compelled to do one other time.
For most of us at work, there is only so much we can come home with from the office: A couple pens, box of paperclips, on occasion a ream of paper. When you are married to a veterinarian, however, there is always the risk that what comes home from the office is alive and will require feeding and walks. This happened to us once before when living in Rochester, New York. One day, we were the new owners of two ferrets: Teemu and Persephone.
It almost happened again when we were a whisker away from adopting a pit bull who had been shot in the head by a burglar. The dog’s name was Andre Lopez, which was reason enough for me to take on that guy. But he was adopted by some other person in the clinic who got there first.