Two weeks ago, I was petting the neck of Sadie, my dog of the past 7 years. I was scratching her chin when I felt something that was out of place. There was a lump on the left side of her throat. My heart skipped a beat and I inspected her further. There was also a lump on the other side as well. It felt like two golf balls in her throat.
My wife was away, for a job interview and I did not want to burden her with this discovery. So I did a bunch of internet research and came to the conclusion that this was her thyroid. I agonized over how to break the news to my wife. Sadie has been with us a long time and she was really the first dog we picked out together, from the humane society in our new house. Sadie had some fatty lumps show up a year or so ago and they never became much of anything so this came as quite a shock.
After the Wife returned I told her the news and we scheduled a visit to the vet. Both of us were completely aware of the fact that this could be cancer. At the vet, the vet tech gave her a quick inspection and said that the enlarged area was not her thyroid, as I had initially thought, but her lymph nodes. She appeared saddened by this but quickly changed the subject and said the vet would fill us in.
We got to see my favorite vet. He always takes his time to explain what is going on and make sure we understand what is going on. He inspected Sadie quickly and I could see his expression change as he worked. He turned to us and said that in his experience this was likely cancer. I had prepared myself for this mentally but it was still a shock. We elected to do a needle biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
The lab called the next day to confirm that the diagnosis was lymphoma. All of her lymph nodes are swollen and we did not choose to biopsy any more of them. Treatment options presented were chemotherapy with a good prognosis of remission, but remission with this cancer is short-lived. A mere 9-12 months on average. Prednisone, which makes her feel great for a few weeks but really only delays the inevitable. Finally, doing nothing which gives us on average 6-8 weeks. We chose the last option.
About 3 years ago we had a Bernese Mountain Dog named Hermes loose his battle with hemangiosarcoma. It was a blood cancer. He had a leg amputated, went through chemo like a trooper and died 9 months later. It was a really rough experience for me and I did not want a repeat. Hermes was 4 when he got cancer. Sadie is around 10. I don’t think that I could handle going through that process again. Sadie will be giving me her last gift by sparing me, her friend, a long period of suffering.
As an owner of several dogs and cats, I have had to make this terrible decision several times and it always sucks,. It has never gotten easier, and I think if it does, there is something wrong with me. The pain that I feel tells me how much of an difference that these special friends have made in my life. As I was writing this, I was searching through and organizing my photos to find ones I liked. I realized how much fun we have had together.
I have photos of camping, gardening, walking, playing, and many just sitting around. We have had such a great 7 years. Who knows what her first couple years were like before she ended up in a shelter in Indiana. How scary the trip from there to Wisconsin must have been. She was so happy to be in a home with people who spent so much time with her, yet I think I am the one who got the best end of the deal.
There is no joy more fulfilling than being greeted by a happy dog after a shitty day at work. They have a magical ability to remove stress and help humans forget their daily struggles to make money. Dogs are the best thing that has happened to me, besides meeting my Wife. I will forever, be in debt to my Sadie, and I hurt so bad knowing that our time together nears a close. I will always have the photos and memories but it is not the same as a wet nose or her snuggling next to me on the couch, nudging my arm so I don’t forget to pet her.
This time is not over yet and I keep telling myself to not mourn her until she is actually gone but I know that this pain and anger will take a long time to lessen. There is nothing that can ever fill the hole in my heart that loosing a dog makes. Time just turns the pain to laughter and fond memories of the great friend that is now gone.