- Dog gets ear infection, discover that inner ear has hardened, preventing treatment from being effective. May cause deafness. May require surgery. Also discover cancer cells in nose.
- Horse becomes extremely lame and both vet and physio are unable to give clear answers as to what is wrong. Lameness continues for weeks.
- Another horse gets African Horse Sickness (because apparently the vaccines don't really work very well) and then cellulitis during recovery and then abscess in one of the many injection sites of antibiotics for cellulitis.
- Cat loses weight drastically in a short time. Tests positive for FIV, which made him predisposed to a type of leukemia which irreversibly damaged his kidneys. Terminal. Euthanized.
- Another cat gets abscess by tail (usually from fighting). FIV negative. Day after euthanizing above-mentioned cat.
The first thought that comes up within you is "could I have done something to prevent this?" - most of the time the answer is no, and if it is yes you will certainly never make that mistake again. Sometimes you make yourself believe that there was some magical thing you could have done to prevent one or all of these things, blaming yourself for something that you could not have prevented. The doesn't serve any purpose, it's more like an addiction to feeling a certain way and having a certain self image.
Then comes anger. Why did this happen? Why does life have to be so cruel? And it is cruel. There is nothing majestic about nature, you see it more clearly when you are faced with supporting an animal through some kind of traumatic illness or event that happens only because they were designed with certain inherent weaknesses. The same goes with plants and insects (humans too) - look closely and you will see how aggressive and violent life is. Everything is feeding off of everything else, most often requiring that those sources of food sacrifice themselves so that the other may eat. Our food industry is no different, we place animals in horrendous conditions in the name of survival, even though it's more about money these days - for the food producers at least - for those of us who are hungry, it is about food.
When you are responsible for another life you are required to make choices for them, but often you are not the one who must live with the consequences of your choices. Do you make a choice according to what would be best for the being you are responsible for? Do you make a choice based on how much each available option will cost you financially? Do you make a choice based on what you think the animal would want, but without really placing yourself "in their shoes"?
Maybe the hardest part of all of this is that you don't really know what is best, because you don't know what food has what long term consequences. You don't know what long term consequences vaccines may or may not have. You just don't know. You cannot trust what scientists say, because that changes on a daily basis. You can't trust what your vet says, they are glorified salespersons. You can't trust what your bag of food days, the manufacturer is trying to make money. The only way you can know for sure is to investigate for yourself, but even then most of the questions have no way of being answered with our current understanding of anatomy, chemicals and such. There is no easy answer. You do what you are able to with what you have available. If you make a mistake, you learn from it. Remember that you are not the one who is paying the price - but you can only do what you can do - there is nothing more available to us than that.