Saturday, January 1, 2011
I Lost my Best Friend
Two days ago, I lost my best friend in the world to Canine Cancer. I had not given cancer a lot of thought, knew only one or two dogs that had died from it. Our Dock Dogs club supports Chase Away K9 Cancer, and I have purchased a tee shirt and supported the raffles. Now do I understand the significance of research and the pain of losing a family member to such a dreaded disease.
Buddy came to us nearly 10 years ago, emaciated and found in a field. Vet's said he was 24 hours from death. My husband and I went to see him, and of course adopted him on the spot. We got him into a good vet with long time friend Dr. Kayla Peterson, DVM. My husband went out and got all the ingredients for a recipe called Satin Balls to help him put on weight quickly....and he did. He was never a small puppy, at 6 months he was the size of many adults.
He was a middle of the road GWP, had that happy go lucky attitude. He was always the one to meet and greet...he made everyone that knew him smile. He was more like a kid to us than a dog, rightly or wrongly we felt that way. What's not to love about a middle of the road GWP that never had any problems with all of the dogs coming and going. He was never crazy about puppies, but as they matured...he was accepting.
Buddy was a special boy, he was the dog that went through a ton of obedience, and when we were asked to do anything in the community such as work with kids with anger issues at the mental health center...he was "the man." He was the neighborhood dog, that children ran out their front doors to say hi to, everyone always said how beautiful he was...but think it was more his aura they were referring to.
He put up with strangers ruffing up his ears to say Hi....even though I held my breath, all he did was slime them or give them kisses.
He even posed for our Christmas Card this year...Baldwin laughed at him.
The days and years went by, and this big boy grew older. He had been healthy his entire life....and when we were off for Christmas we noticed what seemed to be a stroke. Of course it was the day after Christmas, and vets closed....we watched carefully. By the next day....he was his old self, counter surfing for boiled eggs and helping himself. Little did we know what that episode was...he was beginning to bleed internally from a massive tumor on his spleen. The rebound was from his body absorbing the blood flowing into his abdomen. We had two more very good days.
On Thursday, our day began as usual...Dad got up first, let he and Holly outside. Buddy was racing through the yard on patrol for pesky squirrels, or an offending possum that may have come into the yard during the night....maybe those yapping min pins next door would be out for him to race the fence with. He had his breakfast, and took his place at Dad's side next to Holly for the morning petting and talk. Dad always told him he was such a good puppy dog.
Dad had errands to run by lunch time...and Buddy went into his giant sized crate on his dog bed to take a late morning nap...so we thought. Truth was, the tumor was not only seeping but about to rupture. I noticed he was not himself, and was disoriented. The stumbling was back and breathing was not normal. I called our long time vet letting them know we were having another episode....Dr. Tom Knappenberger said to come in. Getting this big boy to the car was not hard. He saw the leash and was ready for a walk. He fell down the front steps, and it was apparent something was incredibly wrong. He was not getting oxygen to the brain, and by the time we got to our vet...we did EKG, blood panel, his gums were white, and his breathing was so labored...panic was setting in that we were losing him.
Our good vet called emergency and let them know we were on the way...I stopped by to get his Dad, and we made the journey to the emergency room. His Dad put the back window down a bit, as it was 67 degrees, and the old boy sniffed the air by putting his nose up towards the open window. He always loved hanging that big old head out the window....this was a dog that exhumed pure joy at all times. We got to emergency, and he could no longer walk, head slumped off the back seat onto the floor....His Dad and I met the hospital staff in the parking lot with a stretcher. It took 4 of us to lift 75 lbs of dead weight and wrap with blankets. He lifted his head slightly. They ran him into the critical care unit and we went to a private waiting room.
Our vet had sent the EKG, xrays, and blood work with us. He had an IV and oxygen immediately administered. Within 30 minutes, a very good vet Dr. Hoh came into the room....Buddy had a huge mass in his abdomen...his spleen had ruptured. It did not compute, then she said the most agonizing word....Cancer.
But he had no symptoms...how can this be? What were our options? Disbelief, agony, helplessness, then the grave prognosis.
Buddy had a silent aggressive cancer, Hemanigosarcoma. Cancer of the blood vessels. Dr.Hoh explained that symptoms come by the time it is too late in most cases. There were no options for us...surgery and extensive chemo may provide some patients 1-3 months. But with Buddy, it had already spread to his heart, and most likely all of the organs now. How long was he sick?
Dr. Hoh said most likely no more than a month....that is how aggressive Hemangiosarcoma is.
Dad was by this time sobbing, and I made the decision with Dr. Hoh's help to let our big boy go...
His Dad was inconsolable, and I asked him to please wait in the car...I wanted our last moments to be peaceful, calm, and it was time for Buddy and I to have that final conversation. Which he agreed would be for the best.
Buddy never left the stretcher...he was wrapped in beautiful hand made blankets. When he was brought to me, his head was up...I remarked he "looked better"...Dr. Hoh explained he had gotten oxygen since being there, and it was temporary. He was coherent...I was so pleased he knew who I was. Our eyes met and he smiled...I began to talk to him, and rub that big old head...he sighed and put his head on his paws.
I had watched the movie "Marley and Me" the night before, and had never watched the ending...that night I did. Was this God's way of preparing me? If so...a big "Thank you" God.
The scene was much the same...different dogs, parents, and words....but much the same message. He relaxed and I spent time rubbing his head and back...when Dr. Hoh left us for a time, she came in and checked on us. He had closed his eyes, and was not gasping for breath. It was calm, quiet, relaxed and he was so very tired....it was time.
Buddy went peacefully, just melted away in my arms. No sobbing from me until I hit the car, and I have been sobbing for two days now. This is not the first dog we have lost...doing rescue for years, we have lost a few...but this was different.
As I said, Buddy and I had ten years together, lots of obedience classes...he learned a "few" things, he was sort of like Marley come to think of it...you couldn't help but love him. Everybody loved him...We have received ecards and letters of support from all over the world since Buddy left us not even a week ago. He has touched so many lives and raised awareness of Hemangiosarcoma. I have received support from so many people sharing their stories of the loss they have experienced regarding this terrible form of cancer. The caring and outreach from so many people has been such a comfort. Thank you for that....
Chase Away K9 Cancer is a 501c3 organization dedicated to finding a cure and treatment for canine cancer. Please see their website, it is inspirational, and I will be taking the time to explore it and hope you all will too. I would like to make this Buddy's Cause...as he would want it this way.
I am assured the sting will go away in time, getting involved raising money in Buddy's name to help others not suffer the way Buddy did, offer research into treatments so that there is hope will probably be the way healing can take place....as I said, Buddy would have wanted it that way.
Chase away K9 Cancer has donated funds to help and Research Buddy's Cancer...Please see the link below