Thursday, August 17, 2000

Get-well notes from pet lovers

        Murray feels pretty good these days. Except for a slightly swollen head.

        This is your fault — you sentimental pet lovers out there. After I told you about our collie Murray's cancer treatments, you sent hugs, prayers and encouraging stories. We were stopped four times on our walk last night by people who had read about him.

        Now he thinks he's famous. Possibly. But he is certainly not unique.

        “Today, we are celebrating three extra years with our Sam,” writes Debbie Eades of Mount Washington. She calls him her $6 million dog, “but what he gives us back is priceless.”

Being a good listener
               Sam had radiation therapy. So did Tasha, a terrier friend of Sharon and Dave Dankovic. “We had Tash when we lived in Houston,” Sharon says. Tasha was a patient at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center there.

        “Nothing worked,” according to Dave, who now lives in Clermont County. “I'm not trying to be depressing, but you have to be the one to say when enough is enough because Murray quite plainly cannot.”

        Cynthia Coleman of Columbia Township believes, “Murray will send you the message. They always do. We just have to make sure we are listening.”

        Murray is not one to complain. His oncologist warned us that collies often don't respond to treatment. “Some people say it's because they're wimpy,” Dr. Cheryl Harris told us. “I believe exactly the opposite is true. They are very brave, so sometimes we don't know they are feeling bad until the disease is advanced.”

        Treatments often are the same ones doctors use on humans with many of the same side effects, although so far Murray's prednisone has not caused him to get up during the night and vacuum. We don't know whether it has affected his appetite because it has always been his custom to eat everything that isn't nailed down.

Paying Chelsea back
               Denise Roessler of Montgomery says she lost her 11-year-old golden retriever, Chelsea, after surgery. “We did everything we could for her. I know she would have done the same for me since she spent her whole life loving, guarding and protecting our family.”

        Murray received good wishes from a cat named Oreo, and George and Gracie, a pair of guinea pigs. A French lop rabbit named Buttons reportedly is thinking of him.

        Dog lovers. Cat lovers. Animal lovers. Haven't any of these people ever read James Thurber? “I have always thought of a dog lover as a dog that was in love with another dog,” Mr. Thurber wrote.

        “Rain, shine, snow, sleet, PMS, burnt dinner, — it doesn't matter,” Stacey Weddington says. Our pets like us anyway. And she believes sometimes unconditional love can be contagious. “Could it be their innocence reminds us of how we should behave toward each other?”

        Alex, who lives with her humans in Western Hills, suffers from arthritis. “Our anniversary gift to each other this year,” says Peg Oyler, “is another year of Alex. No exotic destination to commemorate our union but another year of one of our very best friends.”

        Chemotherapy has beaten back Murray's cancer. For now. He is his gallant, uppity, personable self. And after much soul searching and reassurance from hundreds of you out there, I officially and publicly disagree with Mr. Thurber.

        But Murray thinks if I really loved him, I'd install a pet door in the refrigerator.

        E-mail Laura at or call 768-8393.


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