I had a Pom dumped at my grooming salon because the owners did not want to deal with him any more. Literally they handed me their dog I told them when he would be done, five hours after he was done and ten calls later I got, "we just cannot do this any more". He had a constant cough, was getting old, severe skin problems, was under weight and smelled terribly and had ear and eye infections present.
He was 14 at the time. I put him on a raw and dry kibble food that is grain free. I gave him chicken necks to help clean his teeth. The Vet did a series of steroids and antibiotics to clear up the eyes and ears. We did an ultrasound as well as X-Rays and found he had a severe heart murmur, grade 5. So another round of blood work was ordered up. We then put him on two heart medications. He was diagnosed with CHF. The medications cost me around $20 for a three month supply. We did an office examine every three months too. The thought of a pacemaker was discussed but I felt it was just too much, honestly I did not see this dog doing very well over the next year. Within six weeks of him coming into my life I had spent over $2500 in tests and medications. His infections were clearing up. He was getting his coat back in. He was not chewing and scratching himself constantly either. He no longer smelled and not because I was bathing him all the time. The grain free food was doing its job. His teeth were clean. The problems he was having getting around on his hind legs cleared up too. He now could run and play. Did not get winded walking two steps. The heat still bothered him, but he was given plenty of A/C in the summer. The Glucosamine supplements were also helping. And his coughing stopped. We found the right doses of medications finally to ease his symptoms. A year later he had to have ten teeth removed. They were rotten before he started on raw and grain free food. After that he had no complications with teeth. I never had to have them cleaned again since he was chewing raw chicken necks(cooked chicken bones are dangerous, raw ones are not).
He lived until he was 20. During those 6 years he was more active, more alert and puppy like...and a champion for rescue dogs. I know 6 years does not seem like much to some people, but to him it was 6 more years than he would have had. I can honestly say that he enriched our family as well as other peoples lives. So he was worth every penny I spent on him. He always wanted to please us. People who saw him could not believe his age. He would sit up, roll over as well as many other behaviors to make people laugh. And he lived for laughs and love.
So no the prognosis of CFH is not a dismal one year...you could extend your dog's life for several more years. I say could only because I am not a Vet with years of experience. I will also add that any amount of time with a good loving family is better than being left behind, forgotten or worse euthanized. Gertie, deserves a second chance...and with that second chance all the necessary medications and Vet visits. I am by no means a rich person with thousands of dollars to spend. And like you I asked myself is this all really worth it? Every time I asked that I was given another reason to keep going forward. The off hand comment, "can't take it with you" played a great deal of reassurance. For 6 years of my life I had a best friend that loved my family. I do not regret spending money on him. He was certainly worth it.
I empathize with you and your family...I wish all of you the best.