What a rollercoaster of emotions you go through when your pet is sick. People say that their pet is like their children and I don’t go that far, because if my child had lymphoma I would not say, “Maybe it would be best to put them down!”
I’m sorry to say that! I love my pets dearly and when they whine to go to the bathroom I put them outside, not on the toilet. When I leave to run to the store I leave my pets behind and hope for the best. When my dogs were really young, I would put them into a crate. I would not do that to my children. So no, my pets are not like my children, but they are like family. So when you find out that your thirteen year old dog has Lymphoma what do you do?
That was the decision on my plate recently since December 29. This dog is a little westie and boy has she been a little terrier. If you have never owned a terrier, well let me tell you that they may be tiny but they sure have big personalities. When we found out that this little girl was sick I talked with my adult children about this. We all showed our scars from her, terrific bite marks complete with stories of heroism and vigor from all of us. My son and daughters all said that when we do lose her, she has left her mark on each of us. This dog isn’t bad she is just unpredictable. She has an invisible switch that gets flipped and she has reacted poorly toward other dogs (my nice way of saying she’s an incredible asshole). Our scars are from trying to break up dog fights with our other, much larger, dogs and our little terror.
However, that is such a small part of her life. She is mostly a good little doggie that we got when my youngest was a little girl. When my youngest was five she told us all that she really wanted a small white dog. I did my research on small white dogs. I already had three dogs in our home and that was going well, so why fuck with it. Our oldest dog was a black lab that was with us since my oldest was a baby, and this dog was getting up there in years. Our second dog was a beagle that was my son’s faithful sidekick. Our third dog was a huge golden retriever, that was MY Dog. I really didn’t want to bring in another dog that was going to need to be protected from these other dogs. These other dogs were friendly and we really didn’t have a problem with the dynamics in the house. I was concerned that if we brought in a little delicate breed of a dog these big dogs would dominate the little one. In doing my research I found the West Highland White Terriers (Westies) they are adorable and they have big personalities. I thought ‘well if there was ever a dog to hold it’s own its a westie.’ I looked around at the shelters and then breeders for one. I did not make the decision to bring a new dog into the home easily. We also had cats and owned ponies. It was a big decision and I was on the fence.
My youngest made all of those promises that children, who want their own dog, make. She was going to feed the dog and walk it and bath it and love it and be the best pet owner ever. I knew the truth and I was like, I am going to get stuck doing all of these things but its cute how she thinks she will. My oldest dog got sick suddenly and we had to put her down. It was devastating! Maybe it WAS time to get a new puppy. I found a Westie puppy close by and we went to pick out ours.
“I don’t think we should take her to pick out her own puppy!” my husband says. “What if she choses a sick one?”
“It’s her dog. I think we should bring her.” I state.
“And if she picks the sick one?” He looks at me. “She has a big heart like her mom and she will chose the needy one because she will feel bad for it. Then that is going to cost us even more money, Becki!”
“Then we will love it and bring it into our home and hope for the best.” I smile because now I wanted the sick one too. Who else to love a sick dog than me and my big hearted daughter.
My little girl, who was small for her age, picked the runt. My husband looked at me and I smile. It’s small, not sick. Then she named her “Princess”! Strike two! The day came for us to go and pick up this little “Princess” and all the way to pick her up my other two tried to convince their sister to change the name.
“Princess is a stupid name.” my son announced.
“I like it!” stubborn little five year old states.
“What if you choose a Princess to name her after?” oldest daughter tries.
“I like ALL of the Princesses and so I just want to name her Princess!” this kid has been convinced to do many things by the older dynamic duo so she is onto their tricks. This is her dog and she was naming the dog Princess.
“You’re so dumb!” my son tells her.
“I’m not dumb, you are!” youngest gets me involved, “Tell him that I’m not dumb!”
“Guys leave her alone. She wants to name her dog Princess. Let’s just leave it alone!” I am driving using google maps directions because that’s what we did back then. I finally find the old farm that we bought the dog at. We walk in and they have Princess waiting for us. They even had a collar on her and a name tag that said “Princess”. The kids loved on the puppy while I signed paperwork and was told how to get her official papers in the mail. She was registered as “Puppy 4” I needed to give them her official name. Because my children rode horses they knew about “barn names” vs “show names” and so now the other two picked out the dogs “registered name”. Her Registered name was “Princess of the valley”. Everyone is happy and that is the best parenting going on there!
The first night home and this little pup was in fact an ankle biter. She would nip at your heels as you walked. It was summer and my kids were mostly barefoot. So needless to say this was our first task to work on.
Lesson one: Hey dog, quit being an asshole.
Next she couldn’t be in a crate because she would shit in it and that was terrible.
Lesson two: Hey people, stop putting me in this cage.
My kids taught her to jump over jumps fashioned out of lawn furniture and broom handles. This dog was a natural. She was family. She was our Princess.
Now thirteen years later we are faced with do we give her treatment for lymphoma? Do we put her down? Do we make her as comfortable as possible? What do we do? What is best for the dog?
I have the best veterinarian, who is so much more than that, she is friendly and warm. She helped my daughter get into vet school. She has been in contact with me every step of the way. This has been easier with her support. Thank you for that!
I was sitting with my husband at the oncologist office with Princess wandering around the cold sterile room and truly trying to figure this out. If left alone we would probably only have a month or two with her. These lymph nodes in her throat are enormous and have grown so big in only a few weeks that it was hard for her to breath or eat. I was not prepared to just let her go. We started treatment, chemotherapy, yesterday. I have decided to take it one step at a time. I want to save this little asshole because she is my little asshole and I love her. I love how little she is for her breed (I am too). I love how scrappy she is (I am too). I love how affectionate she is always licking faces until you tell her “That’s enough!” (I am too). Princess is my spirit animal and I am not ready to let her go.
I hope that I am not prolonging her suffering! I hope that she responds well to the treatment. I hope a lot of things. It sucks to have a sick pet. It is a huge responsibility and it is difficult to make decisions for them. I will do my best for her and that is what I promised when my husband truly believed that my big hearted daughter was going to come home with the one eyed, three legged puppy. I will do my best to love her and treat her and when it is time I will tell her “Thank you for being our little Princess.” and I will let her go knowing that it is time.
Moral of my story: First if you find a lump on your dog please don’t over react, but definitely do have it checked out. This lump was discovered a few days before going to the vet and a week later it is as if she is wearing a lump collar that’s how fast it grew. Second, it is so hard to know what to do. Do what you can and hope for the best decision but don’t be too hard on yourself. This is a difficult time and you can only do what you think is best.
Until next time 🙂