August 9, 2010

Pupdate: If rollercoasters were peppered with occasional bouts of snuggling

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that my dogs are my babies.

T and I adore them. We talk to them as if they're people. Assign them real or imagined personality traits. Make up songs about how fat they are.

Dress them up for our own amusement.

As I mentioned about a month ago, we got some news about the babiest of our babies, Bubba, that pretty much rocked us. And not in a good way.

During the week preceding the Fourth of July, we found a little lump under his chin. A few days later, we found another, much larger one on his collarbone. And we started to get scared.

Our vet was out of town for the holiday weekend, so we took him to our backup vet. In the waiting room, Bubba was the only dog who felt he had to sit on the bench next to me instead of on the floor with the other dogs, drawing smiles from the other owners in the room. Personally, I felt this was completely appropriate -- he's family, not just a "pet." (And when he got scared -- by a smaller dog -- and climbed his 80-pound self into my lap, I didn't mind a bit.)

The backup vet felt the lumps, stood up slowly and looked at me. Her face confirmed my fears.

"Lymphoma. Let's get him started on Prednisone right away."

Tears. Instantly. Bubba sniffed the bottom of her examining table, oblivious, and looked up at me, all "Uh, Mom, can we go home now? It's time for my mid-mid-late-morning nap. Thankssomuchlet'sgo."

On the vet's advice, we waited an interminable WEEK to get tests done by our own vet.

Tests? Done.
Results? Positive for lymphoma.
Next step? Decide if we want to do chemo.

We battled and battled and battled over this one.

It would mean three trips to Columbus each week for 6-8 weeks, one hour each way, but we could make that work. It was expensive, but cost wasn't the issue.

Was it worth putting our baby through all that? Feeling sick, stressful car rides, getting poked and prodded...and not understanding that he's going through all this stress and pain and sickness...for his own good?

We read everything we could find online, trying to find success stories (there weren't many). We asked our friends who have dogs, my friends at the dog shelter, our parents, our neighbors -- we wanted every opinion we could find.

Finally, we asked our vet.

(I can't tell you how much we think of and value our vet. Unlike a lot of "country" vets, he doesn't treat all animals like faceless livestock. He definitely knows his stuff, but he'll still get down on the floor and play with a dog like a little boy. That's the kind of person I want taking care of my baby.)

After discussing what it would entail, T finally just asked, "If this was your dog, would you do it?"

He answered instantly. "No. I'd just try to love on him as much as possible and enjoy him with the time you have left."

Bubba enjoying one of his favorite things:
sleeping on his brother (in our bed)

How much time do we have left?

The simple answer is: We don't know.

When we had the above conversation with the vet, he laid it out for us:

  • We'll keep him on steroids and antibiotics indefinitely.
  • If he responds to the medication, he could go into a temporary remission and stay with us for another 2-3 months. Maybe up to 6 months, but probably not.
  • If he doesn't respond to the medication...we could lose him anytime.

For the past month, we've been going on this way. Meds every 12 hours. Healthy appetite. Days-long stretches of lethargy and sad-face punctuated with short bursts of playfulness, after which he's exhausted. Looooooong snuggle sessions.

Oh, how I love that he's a snuggler.

We settled into a routine. We could almost forget for stretches of time.

Then, this weekend, he threw up everything he tried to eat for 36 hours. Even the special boiled-meat-and-rice concoction that always settles their tummies.

We were panic-stricken. We thought we were ready for this.

We aren't. Now I don't think we ever really will be.

Thankfully, he started being able to keep food down again yesterday, and seems to be back to his new/normal routine. But we know now, for sure, that an awful, horrible decision is coming, however many weeks or months in the future.

When the time comes, I'm just praying I'm unselfish enough to make it.

10 backtalk:

Sarah said...


Trophy Life said...

SO very sorry and sad and heartbroken for you. sending many hugs to you and T and many belly scratches to Bubba.

Ky • said...

Big, big, big hug.

Amber said...

I am sending happy thoughts and strength your way.

Maura said...

Hang in there, Shannon. I have no words. Just know I'm thinking of you.

Jennifer said...

I'm so sorry and sad that you and T have to go through this. Keep snuggling with Bubba and loving him!

Mickey D. said...

So sorry to hear this.

Hug to you and Bubba.

65 Roses for Marcia said...

Thinking of you too...

Written Permission said...

Thanks for the thoughts, hugs and belly scratches, everyone. :) It means a whole, whole lot to me and Bubba, too (all of your belly scratches and hugs have been delivered!).

wrestling kitties said...

I am in tears thinking of you. HUGS to all of you and give Bubba some big rubs from me. It sounds like he is going to enjoy the time he has left with the MANY people who love him.

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