I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I love my dog.
I love dogs, period.
When I was little I begged my parents for a dog. First they gave me goldfish, and when I managed to kill them off thoroughly they decided our family was ready for a pet that couldn’t be forgotten about.
His name was Shadow, and I adored him.
I mauled him about constantly and he tolerated my excessive affection with great forebearance. When I was 10 I trained him to walk nicely on a leash, and I worked very hard to teach him to play dead. He eventually would topple over from a “down” position with a big long-suffering sigh.
He adored my father, and when Shadow passed away, it was one of the only times ever saw my father cry.
As a child I spent a lot of time worrying that my parents would euthanize Shadow while I was off at University. Unfortunately, when he was 8 years old he had several large fatty tumors removed.
Shortly after, he began to limp.
The vets couldn’t find a thing wrong with his feet. After a lot of medications on his paws had failed, a biopsy revealed that his liver was excreting toxins through his sweat glands in his paws, causing the discomfort.
Within a few more months he had wasted away.
He died on the same day as Princess Diana.
His loss hit me hard. I loved him deeply, and I grieved his loss in a way that I have never grieved the loss of a human being. 8 years after he died, I woke up from a bad dream about him, and when I realized that it was a dream, I burst into tears – because my dog was dead.
When I graduated university, I got a new dog. I specifically picked a sheltie who was a different colour than Shadow, so I wouldn’t feel like I was “replacing” him.
That dog healed eight years of pain in a few short weeks. I no longer cry for Shadow. I love him in memory, but memories of him no longer cause me pain.
They’re nice memories.
Beloved Dog is now 8 years old, and I don’t know where the time went. It seems like the 8 years between Shadow’s arrival in our family and his painful exit were very, very long. But Beloved Dog was a puppy mere minutes ago.
Beloved Dog has started to limp.
This, combined with a couple of other nebulous symptoms that my friend The Farm Fairy clubs under the heading of “Ain’t Doin’ Right”, led me to take him to work with me and say,
My dog is limping. I need you to tell me that he doesn’t have cancer.
I got a laugh from people, but not when the vet looked at my dog.
My boss found that he looks anemic, but his bloodwork says he’s not anemic. She found that his abdomen seems painful, but he isn’t vomiting or having any diarrhea. His blood chemistries indicate normally functioning organs.
Except for one.
The spec cpl test is specifically designed to test dogs for pancreatitis. Normally panreatitis is an insanely painful condition brought about by fatty diet and not enough exercise, and is indicated by vomiting, diarrhea, and sheer misery.
My boss suggested it because it was all she could think of to explain the discomfort in his tummy, and because if there was inflammation in his organs, it might explain why he looks so pale.
It came back indicating pancreatitis.
So I fasted him for 24 hours, fed him on white rice for three days, and kept Owl and his fistfuls of cheese well away from Beloved Dog. I retested him for pancreatitis and it came back abnormal AGAIN.
So I changed his already low-fat diet to a corn-free diet, feeding him dehydrated fish with fruits and vegetables. I added digestive enzymes to his food.
His paws began to show sores from his constant licking and chewing.
I took him in again yesterday, and the other vet, who has a very good ear, identified a mild heart murmur. Is that new, or is it so mild than no other vet has ever spotted it before?
The other vet, who reminds me of a Hank Azaria character, also thinks Beloved Dog looks anemic. He insisted on rechecking the red blood cell count.
We rechecked him for pancreatitis.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
I’ve sent his blood to the lab to get a more detailed report. They’ll be able to tell me whether my dog’s pancreas are just a LITTLE funky or a LOT FUNKY.
I’m trying to tell myself that just because Beloved Dog is the same age, and showing some of the same symptoms, does NOT mean the Beloved Dog has cancer.
It doesn’t help that my Aunt is dying of cancer. I’m flying home on an emergency visit to see her again, because apparently she’s wasting away fast.
It doesn’t help that today is Shadow’s birthday, or would have been, if he had lived to be 24 years old.
I just need Beloved Dog to be okay.
He says he just needs me to take off this damn cone.