…and he’s one of the loves of our lives. He’s also dying. Yeah…I know. It’s a tough one. A little less than a year ago he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his left hind leg. It’s a primary bone tumor that is fairly typical in giant breed dogs. You know…Mastiffs, Rotties, Great Danes, and the like. We always knew he was a big dog at heart. He’s the only Chihuahua that I’ve come across with this type of cancer. (Normal is boring, right?) He’s a fighter, too. Loosing a leg would have freaked me out. We’re not sure he even notices it’s gone. Every once in a while – maybe – when for some inexplicable reason he can’t quite scratch his left ear…then we think he at least realizes something is a little different. Oh yea…this is off-color – but he was also a right leg “lifter” when he did his business. Took him a few “butt” dives to realize that he couldn’t lift the right leg because there wasn’t a left one to stand on! No worries…he’s got it down now.
He’s already outlived the odds so we do count each and every day as a blessing. The original prognosis was 4-5 months with amputation alone. That’s pretty much what we were anticipating since we chose not to put him through chemo. (He’s allergic to pretty much everything…peanuts, grains, perfume…and doesn’t always react well to change.) Even with chemo the odds were 50/50 that he’d make it to a year. I’m happy to report that next week will mark the one year anniversary of his surgery. (Go, Timmy!)
He’s starting to slow down though. He’s coughing a lot more, wheezing sometimes when he barks at imaginary intruders (who usually appear when we’re fixing bacon or something tasty… “Oh look humans…someone is at the door…abandon your bacon and run to the door. Quickly now. Go! Go! I’ll guard the bacon…” ). We knew that the amputation wouldn’t save his life – would just relieve him of the pain from the tumor. By the time this type of tumor is found it has most likely spread to the lungs. He can’t run and play as long as he used to and sometimes breathes a little faster than he probably should on occasion. He’s happy still though – eating well, playing, sleeping OK and not seemingly in a lot of pain.
Now, I know…some of you are saying. “Geez, Heather, he’s only a dog”. Yep…I know. Trust me on this one…I totally know what its like to worry about a dog vs what its like to worry about a human. Worrying about a pet…it just hurts different…if that makes sense. Dealing with all of these emotions related to my little guy are helping me deal with all of my emotions, worries and fears about the humans in my life. I guess my point is that Timmy is teaching me a lesson about life. Even if he doesn’t know it or intend to do so! He got the short end of the stick, but doesn’t let it get him down. He just growls at it (the proverbial stick), picks it up and runs with it.
Crappy things happen but we can’t let those crappy moments define our lives or determine how we live them. We can’t control what happens to us. We can’t erase the not so pleasant memories. We can’t change the past. But we can control how we react to those crappy moments and what we do with our futures.
PS…without naming names 😉 There are a few of you humans out there who may be reading this…and you know who you are…especially J&K, DC&ME, DL&JL…who are teaching me the same kinds of lessons and are inspirations to me every day. You are all the strongest people I know!! Thanks for helping me strive to live each day to the fullest! Mwah!
And…PPSS – some links for any of you who may be caring for a dog with cancer/critical illness/a tripaw, etc.:
Bone Cancer Dogs – http://www.bonecancerdogs.org/ They also have a Yahoo! group that is just wonderful. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll get you the info. I think there is a Facebook group, too.
Beezer and Boomer – http://beezerandboomer.com/ Buy the book. It’s an awesome read about honoring your pet through the last stages in life. Have your tissues ready though. It’s a tear-jerker.
Tripawds Blogs – www.tripawds.com
CSU Animal Cancer Center http://www.csuanimalcancercenter.org/
I’m open to sharing experiences/photos of the amputation surgery if anyone has questions. I know the sharing photos part probably seems gruesome. For some people (i.e. me) it was helpful to see photos of what after the surgery looked like. Took some of the sting out of things. Because he is such a small dog our experience is a little different that what the larger pups go through though. Timmy was up and walking and even came running out to meet us when we picked him up at the hospital after his surgery.