Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Is girlfriend "crazy" for prolonging her dog's life?

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My girlfriend is crazy (maybe literally?) about her dog. "Amy" and I are both 32 and have talked seriously about marriage. I love Amy and she's the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Since the beginning I've known her dog is a big part of her life, and that's fine with me, though I've never had or wanted pets myself.

The thing is, I've started wondering about her priorities. The dog was diagnosed with incurable kidney disease. He is 10 and had a good life and I expected Amy would put him down. Instead she's spending insane amounts of money on "supportive care" (specialty vets -- yes there is such a thing -- meds, supplies, etc.) and plans to keep him alive as long as his "quality of life" is good. She has to give him fluids under the skin every day, cook him special food and so on.

To me, all of this is just crazy for a dog who is going to die anyway. I can't help but think of all the worthwhile things she could be doing with that money rather than throwing it away on her dog, who, as I said, is going to die anyway.

It's gotten to the point where she has asked me to refrain from even talking to her about this and I wonder if this is a sign that she loves that dog more than me. Are Amy's priorities screwed up or am I insensitive?

-- Wondering

You're going to die anyway. Should anyone cook you special food?

Sure, it's money for a "lost" cause, and it's a reasonable discussion to have -- for human health care, too. How much intervention is reasonable, at what expense, for what effect on duration and quality of life? These are ethical issues without pat answers.

...continued

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