Today I met a man in his 90's with a sharp mind and a strong, independent spirit. For several weeks now, Mr. Brown has been preparing to die. His body, once as strong as his spirit, continues to lose ground physically as his disease progresses. Each day, he insists on wearing his cowboy boots, western slacks and shirt as he sits on the couch, also wearing the oxygen that keeps him comfortable. Our staff has had a tough time convincing him to let us do as much as we can to help. Mr. Brown doesn't take charity and he wants to do as much as possible for himself. We do our best to honor his wishes. He's sent several people packing when they tried to do more.
Mr. Brown has a 15 year old cattle dog named "Max," who is almost as fragile as he is. They "found" each other when Max was only a few months old, abandoned close to Mr. Brown's home. They have been constant companions ever since. Mr. Brown finally let us help with dog food when he learned it had been donated to our pet food pantry, but he wasn't about to let us buy any. Today I met Mr. Brown and his devoted friend for the first time. We talked about taking "Max" to his longtime vet for a checkup, as the dog's chronic skin allergies and arthritis are causing him considerable discomfort. "Max" is also rubbing his gums on the floor, suggestive of advanced gum disease or tooth pain. Mr. Brown decided to accept our help for his friend, much to my surprise. He was very grateful for the help. Mr. Brown has total trust in his veterinarian, even to the point of letting him decide when "Max" should be put to sleep because of suffering. I stopped by the vet's office to make the appointment and to let the doctor know what was at stake for "Max" and for Mr. Brown. The appointment is next Thursday. I'll let you know what happens.