Like there was ever any doubt: LeeAnn and I have decided to keep Kirby. It's really not been any decision at all -- he's such a polite and gentle dog. We actually made the decision a couple weeks ago, during the holidays. I was waiting to write something up here until I got a decent picture of him. These aren't great, but they certainly show how relaxed he's become around us.
Healthwise, he's doing great. His last trip to the vet was for a dental cleaning and neutering. No problems with either, and he's almost ready to start long walks again in the evening. (He's been on limited excercise until the stitches heal.) There was indeed a tumor on one of his testicles, but the biopsy showed it to be benign. Whew.
In fact, his last lingering health problem is a persistent infection in his left ear, and I think that yesterday brought a breakthrough in that area, so to speak. When I woke Kirby in the morning to let him out with Dozer and Polly, I found his ear coated with the foulest brown wax (hard, plasticey and pea-sized stuck in the fur around his ear) and a slick of oily gunk around it.
It looks like, all these weeks, he's been plagued by a thick cap of wax that was holding captive a stagnant pool of green mucous and bacteria. Yuck. The daily earwash we'd been giving him finally loosened the whole mess out of there. (Thank GOD! We were just preparing to take him for another round at the Vets. I haven't mentioned it here yet, but Kirby's health woes are quickly becoming our financial woes.)
So we think he's going to be alright. His hearing has certainly improved today.