So. Context. Before I got involved with ysabel and amaltheae, they adopted a pair of Rottweiler/Lab mixes. Big, black, scary looking dogs that are sweeter than anything, but often sort of brainless. They came as a pair, and were getting very close to the date when they would have had to be put down, because nobody else had even looked at them - large dogs are hard enough to have space for and control, much less a pair.
Sampson and Delilah also had abuse issues, and had never been housetrained (only dog-door trained). They were six years old (at least, that was the vet's guess) when they were adopted - if anything, possibly older.
That was in 1998 or so, meaning that they're now roughly 11 years old (maybe more; possibly up to 15). Neither Rotties nor Labs (in fact, not most large dogs) tend to live all that much past 10 years, on average, and it has been showing on them for a while, especially last winter. About two months ago, we took Delilah to the vet because she seemed to be favoring her right foreleg, thinking it might be a flare up of the arthritis and stiffness she had been showing in all of her legs over the winter; we found, instead, that she had oneocarcinoma (bone cancer), and that her shoulder looked more or less like swiss cheese. All they could have done for her was remove her entire shoulder, and that would probably only have extended her life by a month or two. So we've been giving her painkillers, and simply hoping, as horrible as it sounds, that it would metastasize and spread into her heart or lungs - because if it did, she would simply die in her sleep one night, instead of the most likely alternative, which is her shoulder breaking under the strain, and having to be put down after being in pain from it for however long it took to get her to the vet, or the vet to her.
Yesterday morning, Amy noticed that Sam seemed to have something swollen and red around his butt, and suggested that I take him to the vet, since the most obvious (and easily fixed) cause would be swollen anal glands. Upon the vet looking at him, however, it became clear that it was a very large growth, deeply involved (that is, going well into his body). Further looking while talking to the vet revealed at least one other good-sized growth on his right cheek, and a couple of other spots that probably were. So either he has a malignant cancer and it has already metastasized, or he has so many bening growths at once that he almost certainly has one somewhere that will kill him as it grows. Removing just the largest one would be $1000 at a specialist, and if it is malignant and metastasized (which seems likely), it wouldn't help. So... they came into the world together (as far as we can tell), and it looks like they may well leave together.
We've known it was coming, and in some ways, it will be easier not having to deal with them all the time. We'll probably take a break from having any dogs (other than sitting for Shadow, Deb's mother's German Shephard hybrid) for a while. But we'll still miss them.