Perspectives by Rev. Sue McCullough

There is a third choice…

In late July, while Dave was with me here in Morrisburg, we went out for a walk with Ziggy, our big, goofy, yellow Labrador retriever. As a good pet owner, I am vigilant about cleaning up after my dog. When I was picking up Ziggy’s “calling card” I noticed that he needed to go to his doctor to be treated for worms. The appointment was made for a couple of days later.

Two days later, I loaded the Ziggy into the car and off we went to one of his favourite places in the entire world – to see Dr. Hunt. Now, you may have gathered that my dog is out of the ordinary – where many critters aren’t thrilled to go to the clinic, my dog loves to visit the people there. While we were there with our ‘sample’ Dr. Hunt noticed that something didn’t “look right.” I agreed to leave Ziggy for some x-rays. Dave and I returned to pick him up later that afternoon.

Upon meeting with Dr. Hunt later that day, we were given the worst news that we could have received about our big, goofy dog. He had a hemangiosarcoma – that is a cancerous tumor growing on the blood vessels of his spleen. 

We were devastated by this – after all he was just his usual self, running around, playing, sleeping – all the things that a dog does. It was then that we were told what our options were.

The first option was that we could just leave it. The tumor would eventually rupture and there would be internal bleeding – that in our minds was not an option. 

The second option was for the veterinarian to do exploratory surgery and remove the spleen if the cancer hadn’t obviously metastasized. The conversation continued around this option which included things like the seriousness of the surgery, the cost, what happened if the cancer had spread. We cried as we tried to figure out what was best for Ziggy. 

It was then when Dr. Hunt said, “There is a third option.”

We considered how our 13 year old dog would tolerate the surgery. He had already lived past the average age of a dog his size. The recovery would be hard for him. We needed to decide about the third option – the option of euthanasia. 

Dave, Ziggy and I headed home. When we arrived he was happy to be home and Dave and I had the difficult decision to make. After a lot of talking, crying and hugging of Ziggy and each other, we decided that there was no option but number three.

If anyone ever questions why God created animals to be pets, I simply say, “To bring more joy and more love into our lives.”

We were blessed in so many ways by having Ziggy as a part of our family. He was one of God’s special creatures. We were chosen to be his caregivers and I give thanks to God for that privilege. 

Part of being a servant of God in the world is to care for God’s critters as well as God’s people. The way I see it we were good stewards of God’s creation. 

Now when I sing the hymn “All Creatures of our God and King” there will be new meaning for me – not only will I think of the human creatures, but I will think of all those creatures who have brought so much joy to God’s people.




Rev. Sue McCullough

Anglican Parish of Morrisburg, Iroquois & Riverside Heights


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