“I’m not going to bet against her,” our kind vet says, despite having uttered just moments before, “I don’t like it.” She’s viewing an ultrasound of our dog’s kidneys. One has a dark, semi-triangular shape floating within it, foreboding, possibly cancerous. Trixie leans hard against my leg, panting but smiley.

The week before, I had taken my own leap of faith: I renewed her pet insurance for a full year, even knowing that her diagnosis of renal insufficiency really meant kidney failure, which really meant time is limited. My husband and I had already spent a thousand dollars on blood draws, testing, pain medications, therapeutic food and visits for doggie dialysis—twice-weekly subcutaneous fluids that gave her a hump like a camel. Still, it seemed wrong not to bank on her, disloyal to assume she wouldn’t live a full year.

“Every day is a gift,” I say in…

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