The veterinary oncologist confirmed what we had suspected.

The last time I wrote, it was about the resilience of our three-legged golden doodle, Wolfie. But unfortunately, since that time a lot has changed. We discovered an enlarged lymph node on Wolfie, and at the same time noticed bumps that seem to be cropping up all over his body.

We made yet another appointment with our vet who urged us to get him to a veterinary oncologist as soon as possible. We made the appointment, and the three of us went together: me, my husband and our son Avi, who is very attached to Wolfie. Due to COVID-19, none of us were allowed to go into the clinic, so they brought Wolfie in and promised to have the oncologist call me as soon as she knew what was going on.

The telephone call was depressing: it was without a doubt metastasized cancer. Although the option to treat him was a possibility, we did not feel that it would be humane in his condition to prolong his life in a way that could bring him more pain. We asked what her prognosis was. Three to six months, she said. In a way, this was comforting. We do not have experience with this kind of thing, and so initially we panicked and thought that the time frame was much shorter. Three to six months, therefore, by contrast, sounded reassuring. We would keep Wolfie comfortable with a cocktail of medication and enjoy our time with him until he seemed too uncomfortable to go on.

Whenever human beings try to give projection of how something will pan out in the future, there is a truth, perhaps unspoken: We really just don’t know. As human beings, we are by definition limited. As much as science and technology have developed, and as many strides as we have made, we simply do not know the future.

We can try to project the weather, and we can attempt to enlist pollsters to project election results, and we can turn to physicians and veterinarians to give us prognoses. But the fact remains that us limited human beings simply do not know.

It is unnerving to not know how much longer we will have Wolfie. Some family members are very attached to our pet, some of us less so, but all of us know that it will be the end of an era when Wolfie’s time comes. Some of us will want to get another dog. Others will not. Our lives will definitely change when our pet’s time on this earth has come to an end.

It is not easy to live in the unknown. I think we have all experienced this since March. If practice makes perfect, you would think we would get better at uncertainty as time goes on. But I’m not so sure that’s the case.

If anything, Wolfie’s story is a sobering reminder that none of us knows what’s around the corner. In classic Jewish tradition, we are supposed to use everything that happens to us as an opportunity to grow and improve as human beings. Our experience with Wolfie reminds me that we should cherish what we have and appreciate every moment. We never know how long things will last or how much time we have.

“Do not say, ‘When I’m free, I will study,’ for you may never be free” (Hillel the Elder).


Read Ruchi Koval online at cjn.org/ruchikoval. Connect with her on Facebook at ruchi.koval and on Instagram @ruchi.koval.

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Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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