We knew that this might be a very difficult visit, but what we really wanted to know was whether anything more could be done for him (outside of spending vast amounts of money on a procedure which might not work, and could therefore only prolong his suffering). The upshot was: keep doing what we're doing, with the additional advice that we can increase the use of painkillers without danger of precipitating his end.
Powerful narcotics are an option, too. However, they would simply create a completely stoned dog - Bosco's quality of life would be reduced to a stupor, and there's simply no value to going down that road.
We want our wonderful lad to stay with us (forever, ideally), but we know that this cannot happen. We know that we're losing him, a little at a time. It's horribly painful, but we also know that it comes with the territory: when you bring a pet into your life, the likelihood is that you're going to have to say goodbye in heartbreaking circumstances. We're resigned, therefore, to his leaving us. What we want to avoid is keeping him around for our sake, rather than for giving him a chance to enjoy life for a little longer. We want more than anything to do the right thing for him.
He has always enjoyed himself in a particular way: a mix of laziness and bursts of frantic silliness. He can still be silly (although less and less frequently), but he can longer 'do' frantic. He is still enjoying his increasingly truncated walks, but the basics (pooing and peeing) are becoming more and more difficult for him now.
The time is drawing near.
When he no longer has his tail raised for a walk, we will know. When he can no longer do the doggy things that instinct drives him to do, we will have our answer: it will be time to do the hardest, kindest thing.
He will have had less than seven years on the planet, but in that time he will have brought so much happiness into our lives, we will never be able to let his memory fade. I've never known a dog that has been so good at becoming part of my life - so good at finding a place in my heart. Not even the wonderful pooch that I grew up with (Baron the yellow lab) can compare to my huge, gentle, forgiving friend. Bosco is indescribable. He is irreplaceable. He is, quite simply, the world's best dog.
This is going to be so very difficult...it already is.