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One month into 2007 and I'm in a bit of denial about a couple things. It's hard to believe Pugsley is going to be 13 in five more months. Seems like just the other day I took the precocious pug home and fell head over paws. Hard to believe it's been 5 months since he was diagnosed with the big "C". He's really been through a lot over the years, this pug of mine. He's survived Lhymes disease, allergic reactions to rabies shots and other medications, two intestinal obstruction surgeries, one eye surgery, an attack from another dog, 5 lump removals, luxating patella, numerous anesthetizations that I was afraid he wouldn't wake up from and so far mast cell tumor, grade 3 or maybe grade 2.
I don't understand people who "give up on their dogs". People who have had a dog as part of their family for years and years and then they go through some sort of life change and decide that the dog no longer fits into their lifestyle. They move or marry someone who isn't a "dog person" they have babies and become afraid that the dog will hurt the child or maybe they don't even give the dog a chance and ship him off to go live with someone else without ever knowing how he might react because it will be less stressful of a situation for them if he just leaves. I know because I see it happen all the time working in rescue. Here's a novel idea - how about you don't take an apartment if they don't allow dogs. How about you don't get involved with someone if they would ask you to get rid of your pet, or maybe if you plan on having babies at some point in the near future and don't think you'll be up for raising a human and an animal in the same house, you think twice about getting a dog in the first place. Or how about you spend some time working with a dog trainer to learn how the dogs and children can coexist in harmony? And then there are those people who decide they can't afford or aren't willing to pay for their dogs medical bills and just give them away, or worse, abandon.
I think it comes down to there must be two different types of people in the world. There are people who think of their pets as part of the family and people who think of their pets as pets. I don't get those people who can treat their dogs as disposable when they no longer fit into their life. I've spent tens of thousands of dollars on Pugsley's vet bills over the years. I've emptied my bank accounts and maxed out my credit cards on more than one occasion. When you get a dog you make a commitment, you become responsible for a life that is totally dependent on you. I've given up jobs and sacrificed relationships that would require relocation because Pugsley isn't a "city" dog and I've sat home on weekends foregoing a social life so he wouldn't have to be alone. I guess my brain and heart can't comprehend how anyone could throw away time with their dog because it is so precious to me as I stand facing 13 years with my trusted compadre and all I can feel is that I need another 13 years with him and how unfair it is that I can't have more.
I found two new lumps on the Sausage. They're just behind the armpit of the same leg that had the cancer which they told me was likely to come back at some point. I don't like the location of them or the way they wiggle around when my fingers glide over to check for growth every couple of days. The lumps are close to his heart and I've decided that I just can't and won't keep cutting him open every time there is a new lump. Unless of course it's a protruding lump on the outside of his body and wouldn't be so invasive to remove.
The reality is that dogs get lumps, especially older dogs. He's had numerous fatty tumors removed that turned out to be nothing. That's what I'm hoping these are, nothing but benign growths that come with age and fat. I give him his holistic medicines faithfully, everyday three times a day. His powders and drops and his "Magic Mushrooms" which are a special mast cell formula made from mushroom extract. I have to believe they are working to battle any bad cells that keep trying to attack. I know people who have dogs on holistic meds that have had the same lumps for years and the dogs keep going happy and carefree.
I always remember what my grandfather told me too, when he was losing his battle to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. When it came back the second time and he swore that it grew back because they cut him open. His theory was that once the air hits the cancer cells, it causes them to multiply throughout the body. He swears that his lymphoma spread as a direct result of his second surgery. Who knows if his theory was correct, he said a lot of weird things towards the end while taking those cancer drugs that messed with his mind. Like that little green men were trying to attack him and he subsequently strangled his Dr. with a stethoscope one night. Or like the time he told me that my grandmother's father was a Russian Jew, which would make me part Jewish and we're Catholic. The point is, it was my Papa and whatever he said has remained deeply embedded into my memory.
I look at Pugsley now and think about his (our) journey and I know that he's had a great ride. I know he's getting up there and I can't have him with me forever. It hurts to know that, but of course I do know. I know that he's been happy and peaceful and spoiled even more so than ever these last couple months. That's why I can't see subjecting him to another surgery, another anesthesia, another round of recovery and fear and worry. I don't think I want to know if the lumps are the cancer growing back. I want him to continue living and enjoying his days stress and pain free. Whatever happens I want it to be natural, not under the cold glare of fluorescent hospital lights and stainless steel operating tables. At this stage, I think it would be selfish of me to do that to him. I feel like the Sausage and I have more time, but I do sense that it is fleeting.