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Speaking for Spot
Nancy Kay, DVM, on some of the hardest decisions we’ll ever make.

You don’t often hear canine talk on Fresh Air—apparently Terry Gross has a cat—but NPR’s distinguished interviewer gave most of the hour yesterday to a conversation with veterinarian and Bark contributor Nancy Kay, DVM. If you missed it, it’s worth an online listen.

Exploring issues from Kay’s new book, Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life, the interview was wide-ranging covering guardian guilt, the latest veterinary therapies (such as stem-cell treatments for arthritis) and treating pain in animals who can’t say how bad it hurts, but the topic of euthanasia was the centerpiece.

Kay offers practical, compassionate wisdom for tackling the question: when? Does your dog still respond with enthusiasm to the things that used to excite her? Do good days outnumber bad days? Kay advises: Get nose-to-nose, eye-to-eye, and look for that old spark. Everyone wants to make the decision at exactly the right time, Kays tells Gross, but in her experience the guardians who struggle the most are those who feel they waited too long.

It’s wonderful to hear Kay. She’s articulate and measured and her voice trembles with emotion when she describes an animal’s final moments. It makes you want to move to Marin County, California, where she practices. It's also easy to understand why she will receive the 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award at the annual conference of the American Animal Hospital Association next week.

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