When Dr. Douglas Palma was faced with the terrible task of informing pet owners that there was nothing that could be done for their pets, he would always say, “I understand.” But up until an August morning in 2011, he didn’t really understand.
On that day, the Doctor received a call from his wife Eileen, in which she informed him that their beloved dog, Rufus, was not eating. He told her to bring him in right away. Rufus was 15 years old, but was holding up well and could still run, jump, and swim with the best of them. Douglas asked a colleague to perform the usual set of tests, and shortly thereafter, the colleague returned to regretfully tell him that his beloved Rufus had metastasis. All Douglas could hear was the echo of the words he had told others many times before, “Your pet will live on average, less than a month.”
In shock, Dr. Palma could not believe they were talking about his dog, and reluctantly accepted that this was the fate of his beloved four-legged friend. He and his wife decided to take Rufus, along with their daughter, to his favorite place. On a bike trail surrounding a duck pond, Rufus ran, had fun, and in typical fashion, chased his Frisbee without returning it. The longtime owners realized if they let the disease run its course, Rufus would suffer with a smile and try to stay strong for them. They did not want him to be in pain unnecessarily, so albeit extremely difficult, they decided euthanizing was the humane thing to do and right decision. The following day, they held him in their arms and said goodbye.
Now when Dr. Douglas Palma says, “I understand,” he really does.