Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Duro de Matar - São Paulo

My longer-term readers will have met my dog Caju. I wrote him a love note on March 3, his birthday. You can read it here. Meet Caju. He is fourteen years old and has had a roller coaster ride of great health and then near-death experiences, and back again. I would be naive to think that the warrior dog, as I call him, will continue to be able to fight everything. Because you can't win against one thing ever: age.

A month ago Caju had what I thought was a urinary tract infection. He was dripping urine everywhere and had a funny smell. Two exams later (fortunately our visiting vet came in for the tests), the results came back with no infection. The ultrasound came back with no issues. We put him on corticosteroids and he got acupuncture and miraculously he recovered.

On Sunday, it started again. But instead of the urine drip-dripping, it came out in jets. It's cold here now so he has been lying on any rug he can find and they are all covered in pee. And it smells awful. And he gets put outside, my wonderful companion dog, because no one can stand the smell or the clean-up. And he stares in the window.

A month ago I called the local vet/spa (the one who gives him baths and does in-house consults) and said that his time had come. The vet came over to my house and said that she didn't think it was time. She "wasn't judging me" but she wouldn't put him down if it was her. Then I called his vet who has cared for him since he was a puppy (and takes care of him when we go for long trips) and she said she also could not put him down, but for another reason. She was "too emotionally involved" to do it herself. Her husband, also a vet, would be the only one to do it.

Her husband came over a couple of days later and looked at Caju. Caju puts on a show when people visit, he walks, he wags, he smiles, and it seems that he is still okay. Folks, he is not okay. I have had this dog for 14 years: he is done. At least this vet told me that if I told him absolutely and finally that this was the time, he would help Caju go.  But since Caju was a bit better again, I let it slide.

And now the incontinence is awful. Truly terrible. Caju walks around with a defeated look, with pee running down his legs, and he practically staggers on his already painfully arthritic legs. It is time to let him go. It is cruel to make this proud dog stay. But in fact, his nickname of "Duro de Matar" or Hard to Kill holds true again. Two vets have again refused to put him down. I cannot find the third--I guess he avoids me. 

I wonder if this is cultural; this inability to let go. I am not in favor of the death penalty in the US but it is legal in some states. It is illegal here. Maybe that is how people feel about putting animals to death too. But to me, letting a dog suffer because YOU are not ready to let it go is as inhumane as starving a dog or leaving it on the street. Caju is done. The greatest gift I could give him for the fourteen happy years he's given me is to let him pass on. 

Yet I can't. No one will help me. I am not alone in this issue by the way. An expatriate friend is also trying to let her 14-year old in-pain husky go but she cannot find a single vet who will do it. No, she has found one who lives outside of São Paulo--if she pays his transportation costs, he will come. An imported doctor death.

So, here it is, folks. Finally I find something that I truly, madly, deeply hate about Brazil. This is my dog, and my choice, but I am helpless. Brazil in My Eyes.


  1. Poor guy. I'm so sorry.
    I hope you can track down a helpful vet soon to give him some peace. :(

  2. This is crazy. I can't believe it. I'm going to ask my father-in-law who has had to do it a couple of times. I wonder if he has run into the same thing. I'll let you know. Poor Caju.