"We're not keeping him."
That's what we told our kids when we went to the SPCA to pick up Jerry - a terrier mix that needed a foster home for a week or two before some surgery.
We agreed to foster Jerry, then bring him back when he was ready for surgery. But - of course - Jerry grew on his. He followed us around the house. He snuggled up with the kids at bedtime. I'm pretty sure my wife likes him better than me, even after just a week.
So we started thinking about adopting him permanently, even after our foster time was up.
The problem is his health. And that's where the interpretation of everydata comes in.
See, Jerry is probably around 12 years old (they don't know for sure, since they found him wandering the streets). He has some major dental issues, including a few broken and chipped teeth. And he has a heart murmur, which they rated as a 5 on a scale of 1-6. That's not good.
So now, we're trying to predict what's going to happen in the future, because we need to decide if it makes sense for us to keep Jerry. How much time (and money) are we going to spend at the vet? How will the kids react if he only lives a few more months? Yes, we want a dog - but do we really want this dog?
When you're making predictions, you start by looking at the data. So that's what we're doing. Talking to the vet. Getting another opinion. Studying the history of other terriers with similar conditions. Looking at Jerry's expected lifespan.
Then, once we have all the data, we can estimate how Jerry's health will affect us - emotionally and financially - and use that information to make a decision.
Or we can listen to our kids and just decide to adopt him, no matter what.
At least we'll have some idea of what to expect.