Thursday, June 19, 2008

Catching Up, Part 3

Michael's heart is breaking, there's no two ways about it. His pal Monique is pretty sick.

"Nikki" came to us about ten years ago, as the result of me trying to "do the right thing." Laurie was recovering from knee surgery, and we went down to the grocery store to pick up some ice cream or some such treat for her. She was on crutches, or limping.....can't recall which. In front of the store stood a woman who was holding a sign about a puppy needing a home. In the box....a little, tiny puppy.....solid black, and very skinny. She had found it out behind her home. The kicker was that she was moving the next day, and needed to find a home for it before the moving van came. Nearby, some teenaged boys were begging her to let them have it, and giggling amongst themselves. I didn't like the look of that, for some reason....and I impulsively told her, "I have a crate that is not being used at home. I'll take her, keep her overnight, and when the pet store opens tomorrow, I'll try to get her into the adoption program." (Naively, I thought they took any abandoned dog....I've learned a lot since then.)

The lady gave the dog to me and we trundled on back home. Can't recall if we even got the ice cream for Laurie. We called Mr. B. outside to meet the puppy, and I started to go inside and set up the crate....

I turned around in time to see him walk down the sidewalk, and Laurie limped around the corner of the house and in her best "wrap-Daddy-around-my-little-finger voice" she exclaimed....."look at my new puppy, Daddy!"

I hastened to explain to him that I had only brought her home to "keep her safe overnight....teenaged boys....visions of puppy torture....blah, blah, blah." It was a lost cause. It was the first of many such incidents over the years that have taught us, there is not a dog on the planet that this man would not love.

Well, Nikki went on to be a fine dog. She was joined by another, and another, get the picture. I don't entirely share Mr. B's infatuation with the furbabies.....but they have certainly provided us all with some laughs, and have enriched his life tremendously.

Nikki is not a spring chicken. For a big dog (60+ pounds), ten years is getting up there. But not old. And in the heat, we didn't really pay much attention to her panting. The enlarging belly? I honestly thought that perhaps she was sneaking food somehow, because Nikki would rather eat than breathe. Her weight has always been an issue and she had lost weight with Mr. B's frequent walks with her....but she seemed to be regaining.

The panting was excessive one morning and it dawned on me that it was not hot yet that day. I suddenly was looking at her with a different set of eyes....Congestive heart failure sprang to mind. Karen had noticed the belly too, and suddenly my brain was in overdrive....tumor? causing fluid in belly, crowding lungs, crowding heart? Michael decided to take her in to the vet, and frankly was prepared to be told it was serious.

Just not prepared to be told it was lymphoma.

So, Michael's heart is breaking.

This is what I hate about dog ownership. The little things, though sometimes annoying, are just that: Little Things. Dogs bark and ruin good naps, dogs sniff inappropriately, dogs have accidents, dogs are hair factories...... all Little Things. For me, those Little Things are partly offset by the absolute hilarity that ensues when they play and I enjoy sitting in the back yard watching them interact and romp in the evenings. (I never thought we'd have so many, but some day I'll even the score a bit, when we retire.....with some chickens, maybe a goat!, a few barn kitties!!)

Obviously the dogs bring Mr. B. joy and companionship, but oh! the agony for him to watch them fade.....the brightness gone from the eyes, the struggle to manage the stairs, and the loss of appetite. For Nikki, that is so unusual.

She has been a trooper for him. He's been advised by the vets at the hospital we go to, that she stands a decent chance at remission. Apparently they have put 90% of the dogs they've treated there in the last year, into remission. So he has opted to try treatment, especially when they told him that unlike humans, dogs do not have the same reactions to is easier for them. Not easy, but easier.

He's not sure if he's doing the right thing. He goes round and round, wrestling with the decisions. If he doesn't see major improvement in three or four weeks, the decision will make itself. He won't let her suffer, or struggle to breathe. Thus far, she is not sick to her stomach, and she is eating when he tempts her with bits of chicken, and even a bite of hot dog from me (with her pills inside!) last night!

(taken the day after treatment)

So he will wait, and watch.....and he will hope against hope. He sure would like some more time with her.

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