Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Dog is Sick

It has been a while since my last post. My dog is sick. We found out last August that he had lymphoma and had some big decisions to make. We could try chemo therapy which is expensive and may or may not work, or give him steroids which will work for a while. Either way, no one will give a serious prognosis, timeline, etc. mostly because they don't know. My 90 pound (originally, that is.) Golden Retriever is just one of many who get cancer. As a matter of fact, Goldens are in the top 3 for breeds who get cancer. So the age -old question is, why? Why do kids get diseases, and why do nice people get hit by trucks and have brain tumors? If you are a dog lover like me, you will get the Why Golden Retrievers? They are the most loving and devoted, sweet tempered darling dogs ever. Why isn't it a breed that bites, or attacks? Why not a little known foreign breed that has a tendency toward cancer? Why is it my big oafy Georgie who anticipates my every move, who follows me around the house and loves to ride in the car and hang his head over the back seat next to the heads of carpoolers who ride with us? My dog is my best friend in so many ways. He doesn't judge me when I put off the dishes or laugh at me when I sing loud with the radio. He looks at me adoringly and pushes his paw at me relentlessly to pet him. That's my dog.

So we have been doing chemo therapy now for over 8 mo. Thank God Georgie had absolutely no side effects, felt great and the cancer went into remission. I actually secretly enjoyed going to the specialty vet center for his treatment because of all the different kinds of dogs, (and different kinds of owners for that matter) I would see. I love dogs. Little ones, fat ones, 3 legged ones, ugly ones... bring em on. Each time I was waiting for Georgie, I petted and cooed with all the other doggies in the release room, and chatted knowingly with their owners. Georgie ran and ate and jumped into the back of my Expedition and even went into the pool! In March, his round of treatment was complete and he was in remission. Our Dr. couldn't say what to expect or how long as each dog was different, but he looked good and had responded so well, our hopes were high.

Three weeks later he stops eating. He developed a hollow cough that sounded like he was going to throw up. He did throw up some, but I knew in my heart it was his lungs. He was listless and his eyes were suddenly vacant. This was not my dog. He returned to the Specialty vet center where they removed fluid from his chest, hydrated him, and found his cancer was back. He had to stay over night, which he had never done. I was truly worried he would pass away right there of a broken heart thinking we had abandoned him. My doctor is an angel however, an assured me that he was not in a kennel, but laying on the floor of the procedure room nose to nose with her own dog and people all around. I can't say what a comfort this was.

Usually when he came out after his treatment, I could hear his nails on the tile wildly rounding the corner of the release room with a poor attendant at the other end of the leash holding on for dear life. Then he would either jump up, his paws literally on my shoulders and kiss my face, or he would jump into the seat next to me and put a paw on my arm. This, as you can see, is no ordinary dog. The day I picked him up after his hospitalization, I didn't hear his nails. He pulled around the corner of the release room, and seeing me came over, his weakend back end swaying and collapsed at my feet. I let out such a sob, I really embarrassed myself in front of the waiting room occupants. I literally broke down right there. I love that darn dog so much it physically pained me to see him like that.

They had given him a new type of chemo injection while he was there, and I was hoping he was having a reaction to it. His mouth was a little foamy, he was tired and not hungry. Even with the Prednisone this time, his appetite was scarce. I called the doc to see if he was truly reacting to the chemo, and she said no. He was probably getting ready to go. Go? Go where? I am not ready, I thought. I will never be ready. I kept looking at him. Are you really ready boy? He would try to do his doggie smile, but just lay on the cool tile of the kitchen.

Then the bawling began. I have had good dogs in my life. Our German Shepherd Tascha, what a great dog. Our Chow Chow, Meg, loved her. \I had been through this before. I remember my dad taking our Tascha to be put down, and he came back 30 minutes later with her still in the car. I guess it's a family thing. So I cried and cried trying to thank God for the gift of such a loving, intuitive companion. I didn't bother begging for the Lord to keep Georgie around a little longer because I knew I wouldn't want him to be in pain. I hand fed him bits of ham and cheese. We petted and massaged him gently. When he made his way upstairs to my room, I just sat on the carpet with him stroking his face over and over. For 8 years he has been an intregal part of our family. He is one of us. In some ways, he is the best of us. I tried to get him to take the prednisone with the ham, but he balked. Finally, I hid it in a soft chunk of butter. He loves butter. I went to bed that night half expecting him not to be breathing when we awoke the next morning. I texted my dog loving friends to pray for me as I was devastated. They did. I know they did.

I opened my eyes to barking. It wasn't the tinny little dog bark of our other pup, Penny. It was Georgie for heaven sake. What? He was standing at the back door barking at something and waiting to go out and pee.
I let him out and he seemed more steady on his feet. He peed for what seemed like ten minutes and almost jogged back into the kitchen. He ate a treat. His eyes looked like he was behind them again. Penny sniffed him carefully in confusion. Like us, she knew he was not well and had given up the rough and tumble play they usually participated in. Georgie was alert, he was weak, but he was back! I called the doc and she laughed. Maybe the prednisone kicked in. Who knows?

No more chemo. Georgie takes the steroids, and although he seems older and more frail, he is still with us. For how long? I don't know. I have had my miracle and I am not asking questions.