Last October Jim and I noticed that Jocko had a somewhat swollen belly and otherwise seemed thinner even after we had given him is anti-parasite medicine. We first took him to Liliana, a good general practitioner veterinarian in Coatepec, a gentle woman, tall and slender, with careful, capable hands. She looked Jocko over and palpated his belly, Then, sadly, and softly, said that he didn't have more than a couple of weeks left. All we could do was to make his last days as comfortable and pleasant as possible.
But lo and behold, he was still doing okay a couple of weeks later, still coming to the door to walk with us, now and then prancing a bit, eating voraciously. Maybe, just maybe....So we decided to ask for a second opinion. We brought him down to see Marco Antonio Pérez Cortez, a friend and the senior veterinarian in our area. We had hoped he wouldn't, but we were not terribly surprised when he confirmed that Jocko had very little time left. "But, but..." I said. "He eats so well, he eats so much. He has a wonderful appetite. I thought people with cancer lost their appetites." "No," said Marco Antonio. The tumor is a ravenous being. You are feeding the cancer." There was no denying the changes in his belly where delicate blue veins traced new paths along his pale, pink skin to the tumor. Marco Antonio mentioned the kind of cancer he was pretty sure Jocko had and also told us the only thing we could do was make him as comfortable as we could, do what he liked, feed him food he liked, not bother him with things he didn't like. He prescribed Prednisone and with a sad shrug gave him days to a couple of weeks.
Amazingly, Jocko survived until the beginning of February, more than three months. Slowly, slowly he lost strength, but he continued to seem content. He came with us for walks until a few days before he died. In the last month or so, we confined them to an easy path along a river near our house.
Here are some pictures from that walk.
This is the only house on the walk, right at the end of the road before it turns into a narrow path. Jocko used to like to stop here and wait for the two black dogs who lived there to come down to see him.
The path ends at a rock-strewn shore along the river. Here is our dog Happy making her way across the rocks.
Daisy Maisy (also known as Little Guy) is fearless. You can see here that she is very short.
Not to be outdone by the dogs, Jim goes further than any of them.
Rita and Daisy on the return walk.
The bright red stem of a plant along the way.
Marco Antonio had said we would know when it was time to have him put to sleep. How? How on earth will we know? Finally Jocko couldn't stand without Jim helping him, hung his head, made soft, sad sounds. Was no more than skin covering bones. There was no mystery to it after all. Marco Antonio and Maty, his wife and also a vet, came out to our house on Monday morning. Jocko was lying on the floor. We had tried to warm him because the weather had been chilly for a number of days, but he didn't want to get on a blanket or a pad. Perhaps he was feverish and the cool of the tiles felt good to him.
Jocko seemed calm and ready as they prepared their injections, a tranquilizer and the toxic dose of pain medication. Jim said he looked as if he knew what was happening and didn't mind. Maty agreed.
And it was over, quietly and, I hope, painlessly. We buried him in the backyard next to Cosi.