In the dilemma discussed in the February issue of In Practice, a 12-year-old German shepherd dog (Jasper) presents with vomiting and diarrhoea. A dog minder has Jasper while the client is away. Jasper has long-standing degenerative myelopathy and before the client went away, they expressed concern that he might, at some stage, require euthanasia. The dog minder is uncertain and upset; should you advise euthanasia or wait until the client returns? (IP, February 2017, vol 39, pp 94–95). Simon Coghlan suggested that if Jasper could be kept relatively comfortable, it might be reasonable to treat him and to run some medical tests until the client can participate actively in decision making under your professional guidance. Allowing some time to assess Jasper's response to treatment might be wise. However, respecting client autonomy and respecting the patient's life and wellbeing are both ethically important.