Kirsti and I took Argos to an oncologist as a follow-up to the test results of his tumor. It looks like it's probably a melanoma, which means that there's a good chance that this will eventually spread and do him in.
We both really liked the doctor. He went over all the potential procedures with us. He noticed that Argos' lymph node was a bit swollen, but he said that very well could be due to having the surgery. What needed to be done was to take a sample from the node and then proceed from there based on the results. It would involve him getting a series of injections spread out over several months. This could potentially prolong his life and slow down the spread of the cancer.
The only problem? It's prohibitively expensive. Having his toe removed already cost us quite a lot of money, but this whole procedure would go way beyond that. So, we asked the oncologist what we could expect if it's not treated.
He's not psychic, of course, so he could only give us probabilities. The most common thing that happens is that eventually their legs begin to swell and it makes it difficult for them to walk. It's also possible that it gets in the lungs and he'll start coughing. As far as I'm concerned, once Argos starts showing signs of anything like that and is experiencing a lot of discomfort, it's time to put him down.
I really liked the way the doctor put it to us, and I think that this system is a good one for any pet owner to keep in mind. Basically, you look at your pet as having days that fall under being an A, B, C, D, or F. An "A" day would involve him or her being completely happy and doing everything that he or she does. (In Argos' case, it would be barking at everybody that passes by and going on walks.) If your pet can't do one of those things, it goes down to a "B" day and so on.
What Kirsti and I will need to do is keep track of his A, B, and C days. If he starts to have more C days than A and B days, then why wait until it gets down to a D or an F? This makes sense to me, and even though I didn't put it in these terms, that's basically how I felt about it when we put our dog, Molly and our cat, Tyson down a few years ago. They were definitely having more C days than A and B, and I didn't want to see things getting worse for them.
Right now? If it weren't for the fact that his foot still needs to heal up a bit, Argos is acting like he's having an A+ day. Whenever I take him out to pee, he's ready to dart down the street for a walk. I know that when the time comes, we'll be able to make the right decision. Until then, I'm going to enjoy my dog (and the cat and my other dog) as much as I can. After all, he is the greatest dog in the world. (I realize that everybody believes that his or her dog is the greatest in the world, but let me have this for today, okay?)