It’s been about eight weeks since I found a lump in the back of the Brindle Dog’s left thigh that is almost certainly a mast cell tumour.
The tumour grows a bit, and then shrinks suddenly as it releases histamines, heparin, and proteolytic enzymes (which break down proteins) into her system. Eventually, as the tumour grows and more of these substances are occasionally released all at once, she might start getting allergic reactions, stomach ulcers, and other damage.
Ten years ago this month, when she was only two years old, the Brindle Dog developed a mast cell tumour in her neck. I remember very clearly the moment I first felt it, when she and I were playing and I was rubbing and tugging at the sides of her neck. She was wiggling and wagging, and I was laughing. Under my fingertips, I felt a lump deep in the left side of her neck and I thought that’s weird, I don’t recall that dogs are supposed to have a bump there, and at the same time I was reaching for the other side to see if it was bilateral. No, it was not. No matter how hard I poked and prodded, I could not find a corresponding lump on the right side, and my heart sank. I felt a deep fear in my belly and called the vet right away to make an appointment.
A veterinary surgical oncologist removed the malignant tumour, but due to the amount of structures in the neck, the margins were not as clean as desired. My then-partner and I were advised to send her to Saskatchewan for a month of radiation treatment during which time she would be fostered, undergo general anaesthetic every day for the radiation treatment, and require intravaenous feeding because her throat would be burned from the radiation. We elected not to do this. Continue reading →
Poe’s eighth birthday. Taken at Urban Canine by photographer Amanda Borsa.
Remember how my post about Cookie’s death nearly went viral last weekend? That was because Cookie’s mom finally felt ready to read it, and she shared it on Facebook, prompting many of her friends to read and share it.
In a heartbreaking coincidence, another one of her dogs, Poe, died on Friday. Poe was only eight, but he had a haemangiosarcoma on his spleen which ruptured. Haemangiosarcoma is an aggressive cancer more common in dogs than cats or humans. From what I understand, this shitty cancer (aren’t they all) starts in the lining of the blood vessels and leads to large blood-filled tumours which can rupture. That’s what happened to Poe.
Poe comforting his sister Cookie after her diagnosis of osteosarcoma (with my Fluffy Dog in the background comforting Poe). Taken by photographer Amanda Borsa.
Poe was a well-known and much-loved dog, and people who knew him have been sharing their memories and pictures of him on Facebook. Poe was adopted by my friend when he was about eight months old. He and his brother Jack and four of their siblings were running wild down in Ohio, and were live-trapped. The person who caught them remembers that all six of them were so scared that they were piled onto each other in a corner. It seems that the shelter there found them too feral to adopt out, and wanted to euthanise them because it was felt they would never make good pets. Continue reading →
This post is dedicated to Blair (The Shameful Sheep) in response to the post It All Makes Sense Now. If you read through the comments you’ll see a few references to dogs humping, which reminded me of this embarrassing story from my past. Continue reading →
The Brindle Dog at the Vet: Holy “Tongue Out Tuesday,” Batman!
The Brindle Dog went to the vet for her annual checkup this evening. She was pretty sick in the spring, and I always worry about her. She’ll be twelve years old in a couple of weeks, and I am trying to enjoy every day with her while also preparing myself for the end. But she’s not dead yet, and part of continued life means regular vet visits. So this evening I lifted her into the car and we headed over to visit Dr. Beggs at St. Vital Veterinary Hospital for her annual checkup.
The news is good. I mean, she’s old and getting older, and every bit of her is aging. Her eyes are worsening and she’s got a cataract. Her hearing is going. Her sense of smell isn’t what it used to be. She’s starting to lose muscle tone. She’s full of lumps and bumps and warts and cysts and lipomas. Her teeth are wearing down to stumps (although all the chewing keeps them remarkably clean). Her stamina isn’t what it used to be. Continue reading →
About a month ago, I took the Fluffy Dog in for his annual checkup. He was perfect in every way except that his left hip didn’t extend as much as it should, and started bothering him at about 80%. The vet suggested an x-ray to see what’s going on with his hip. Because of the particular shot they’d have to take, the Fluffster would have to be under sedation. I had to think about it; that’s a lot of money to spend on diagnostics for something that isn’t even bothering him in daily life yet. Continue reading →
So apparently “sleep” is something I don’t do well anymore. The last couple of weeks have been a stressful struggle to figure out how to get more sleep. I’ve tried chamomile tea, and I’ve tried warm milk with honey. I’ve tried Gravol and Melatonin and Zopiclone (not all at the same time, but perhaps that would be worth an experiment?). No caffeine after 10 in the morning. Exercise early in the evening (long dog walks) but not too close to bedtime. No electronics in the bedroom. No heavy reading or political discussions before bed. Slowly trying to get my daily life under control so I have less things to be anxious about (that’s an ongoing life project and probably won’t get solved, but hey). Eat healthily but not too close to bedtime. Go to bed at roughly the same time every day. Some solutions I’m not willing to try: alcohol or pot, for example. For one thing, if I drink, Continue reading →
Super disturbing and easily misinterpreted picture of the Fluffy Dog’s tail after shaving the hot spot.
It’s been hot and humid in Winnipeg for what feels like ages. The Fluffy Dog and the Brindle Dog are both blowing coat out of season, trying to cool down. Old Brindle is easy to defluff; her fur is so short that I just rub her enthusiastically when we’re outside, and the plucks of undercoat peel away and float to the ground. The Fluffster, though, is a different story. Continue reading →