Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Mocha: 2008 (Adoption) to 2018

I will say more when I can, but yesterday we had to say goodbye to our friend Mocha. My heart has broken and I can write no more. Born 2006 (our guess), adopted 2008, died February 13, 2018.

All our dogs have been rescue dogs: Java, Saffron, Cosmo, Mocha. All were wonderful dogs. Do a rescue dog a favor. Adopt a lonely rescue dog.


It’s difficult to talk about it. She developed what is called a “soft tissue sarcoma”, essentially a cancer inside a bone. It’s a very bad cancer in animals, life expectancy is very short, even with aggressive treatment such as chemotherapy and amputation, neither of which was really recommended for her at the point we finally figured out what was going on.

She had trouble walking, until she developed a way of doing a “bunny hop”, we also had a sling for her to get up and down the steps, made four beds for her in various rooms so she could lie down wherever she wanted to, bought a lot of high-end food (she lost about 40 pounds before we figured out a combination of drugs and food to counteract the pain and the way the disease was eating into muscle mass), and had her on several different pain medications.

It was clear as of last week that we were talking days, weeks if we were lucky, not months after we had our last conference with the vet. In fact, to be honest, at that point they were amazed that she had lasted that long.

The weekend had more drama in the extended family. And even more drama by today, so, I went home at noon to make sure Mocha was all right and to give her the noon prescription.

When I sat down next to her, I noticed an odd smell, then looked at her leg and saw that a patch we had noticed there had turned into an infected area, specifically gangrene. Which is hard enough to treat normally without a person or an animal being as sick as she was. She was also panting heavily and shivering, seeing that she was on so much pain medication already, I knew that she must have hit a new level and even six different prescriptions were useless.

So, we called the vet’s office and brought her over. They couldn’t have been nicer (we’ve been going there for about twenty years, this is our third dog who has been a patient of theirs). They had a room prepared with blankets to make her comfortable and explained the procedure and gave us time to say goodbye.

This is the first time, other than a week between Java (our first dog) and Saffron (our second), that we haven’t had one or more dogs in the house. They’ve all been great dogs, but Mocha was very special to us. She had a wonderful personality, was always happy, always wagging her tail, even at the sickest, in the most pain, and to the end.

It’s been very hard to handle.

Am not going to argue whether a machine can "really" be alive, "really" be self-aware. Is a virus self-aware? Nyet! How about oyster? I doubt it. A cat? Almost certainly. A human? Don't know about you tovarishch, but I am. Somewhere along evolutionary chain from macromolecule to human brain self-awareness crept in. Psychologists assert it happens automatically whenever a brain acquires certain very high number of associational paths. Can't see it matters whether paths are protein or platinum.

("Soul?" Does dog have a soul? How about cockroach?)
 (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Part 1, That Dinkum Thinkum, Chapter 1)

"Do dogs have souls? Maybe not in the sense we reserve for ourselves, but in other sense: memory. That's where they go, and it's good enough for them...I thought of some other dogs I've known, and how it's necessary to recollect them from time to time, and thank them for the honor of holding their ghosts until you relinquish your own." (James Lileks)

"I know of no reason why I should not look for the animals to rise again, in the same sense in which I hope myself to rise again—which is, to reappear, clothed with another and better form of life than before. If the Father will raise His children, why should He not also raise those whom He has taught His little ones to love?

"Love is the one bond of the universe, the heart of God, the life of His children: if animals can be loved, they are lovable; if they can love, they are yet more plainly lovable: love is eternal; how then should its object perish? Must the love live on forever without its object? or, worse still, must the love die with its object, and be eternal no more than it?

"Is not our love to the animals a precious variety of love? And if God gave the creatures to us, that a new phase of love might be born in us toward another kind of life from the same fountain, why should the new life be more perishing than the new love?

"Can you imagine that, if, hereafter, one of God's little ones were to ask Him to give again one of the earth's old loves—kitten, or pony, or squirrel, or dog, which He had taken from him, the Father would say no? If the thing was so good that God made it for and gave it to the child at first who never asked for it, why should He not give it again to the child who prays for it because the Father had made him love it? What a child may ask for, the Father will keep ready."
 (George MacDonald)

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