And a year later, almost to the day, Boomer was diagnosed with late stage cancer. He must have had it awhile & I had no idea. This picture was taken a week before he became ill & had to go to emergency. So now it’s just me & Madeline. Sorry for not posting in such a long time.
Said goodbye to Boomer’s uncle tonight. He doesn’t look like this any more. His body is a mishmash of bone & bloating; the cancer started as an inch wide mass on his nutsack in September & now it’s in his liver & kidneys. He’s not in excessive pain but he can’t breath & he’s exhausted. He got up for me & I snuck him some turkey meat but he didn’t smile once tonight. Hopefully my dad takes him for his final vet visit in a few days because it sucks seeing this gentle giant this way.
I explained the situation to my 4 year old nephew, who is old enough to learn about this stuff. Payton got it. He insisted we go & talk to Harley some more. I had to tell him to stop touching the swollen areas, stop trying to get Harley to stand up, but he was sad, & as we walked back to his room he discussed the implications of Harley’s departure. I know he’ll think more on it.
I follow a lot of bully breed Facebook pages & had a conversation about kibble. I had my dogs on Infinia Bison & Potato, which was ok, but Boomer was still itchy around his butt &, well, his penis (penile discharge irritating his belly & thighs). I had a feeling it was the potato. Someone recommended Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D; she said her white APBT had no allergic reactions on it. Z/D is sold by any local veterinarian, so it was easy to get, & in fact I had to stop by my vet to get Madeline’s eye ointment, so I picked up a bag just to try it out. It was just over $100 for a 24 lb bag, if I recall correctly. I no longer have the bag since I took it back to the vet for a refund.
I began introducing the Z/D gradually. It took a few days to reach a 50-50 Hill’s-Infinia mix. And all of a sudden Boomer’s moderate itching turned into full blown, entire torso friable pus & utter misery. He wouldn’t let me sleep; he kept crying. I thought he needed to go outside to pee, but when I got a look at him it was pretty dreadful. Image in next paragraph; it’s not NSFW but I put it on Page 2 just in case.
Back in 2011, I hired a trainer for Madeline because of her fear aggression. That training came with an e-collar, which, in spite of the controversy over it, I fully & heartily recommend, especially for use with a professional trainer. For the record, the “shock” level for Madeline never went over a 3 out of 10. For Boomer it’s 4. And I’ve tried both levels on my own hand & they feel like someone tapped you. At least at those levels, it is not painful in the least. Even higher levels aren’t much worse than a pinch, although I can’t say I’ve tried level 10. Or maybe I did & it was unremarkable. Whatever. Trust me, I wouldn’t abuse my dogs.
Anyway, 6 years later the battery started losing its ability to hold a charge. I was using it because I had laryngitis & recalling Boomer from the far end of the yard was pretty much instantaneous with the collar (I had it set on 3). Remembering our instructor told me it came with a lifetime guarantee, I sent an email to Sportdog, & within 22 hours here was the result (sorry, you’ll have to click on it to read it):
When Chie rallied due to feeding adjustments (see previous post), it became obvious that once the nausea was fixed, the real problem was pain. Her back could never really straighten or relax because of the huge mass on her side, she couldn’t breath when she lay down, & she was exhausted when standing. She had to pee every 1-1.5 hours & she had difficulty even on the one step up to enter the house.
Keeping her interested in food was a struggle. Her favorite meal, in the last week, was oatmeal with cooked chunks of chicken thigh, but sometimes I’d have to coax her to eat a hot dog, or steak. Sometimes she just didn’t want to eat & it wasn’t nausea, so it must have been pain.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Chie is dying of a frighteningly fast-growing sarcoma. I discovered it in October 2015 & it was about the size of my palm of my hand. It was probably operable then. By the time the aspiration & then biopsy came back, proper excision would have involved removing practically most of Chie’s right abdominal wall, rendering it basically inoperable without extensive chemo which I couldn’t afford (surgery $4500, chemo $600 every 3 weeks, indefinitely).
We tried 2 different kinds of chemo, but neither had much effect. So we’ve just been focusing on her quality of life. The sarcoma has grown prodigiously; she is grossly deformed around her mid section & I can imagine in constant discomfort. Lying down & getting back up is a struggle for her. Often I have to help boost her up. She has Rimadyl for the aches, but lately her nausea has been the main issue, so I have discontinued the Rimadyl. I want her eat.
She’d begun refusing meals a week ago. The sarcoma must be pressing up against her innards, making everything difficult. Can’t be helped. And she was nauseous all the time. Constantly her mouth would be wet with drool while she panted.
Last night my boyfriend made a comment about how my dogs are my children. Certain things he says resonate with me, & I found myself still thinking about that statement today.
My nephew is almost 4, & I’ve had the privilege of watching him grow up from pretty close. When I look at my nephew, I see some of my own blood in a walking talking miracle who I’ve convinced must hold his ears to keep his brains inside his head if he eats his ice cream too fast & gets Brain Freeze (yeah, I got an earful from his mom for that one).
Human children, it should go without saying, are much more complex than dogs. They go through way more stages of life. They might obey a command now, but they won’t next year. They make their own decisions. And one day, they become independent of us. And I won’t even go into how much college tuition is. But they are our own blood, our teachings, flaws, & strengths, our immortality. We live on in them.
On October 15 I was petting Chie & found a large bump on her side. The next day we saw the vet & had an aspiration done, which came back as “low grade soft tissue sarcoma.” Our vet then did a biopsy of said sarcoma, which yielded results of “low grade soft tissue sarcoma.” I’m a little pissed about this because we wasted 2 weeks on that biopsy, which involved Chie not getting to eat for 23 hours, being held at the vet’s for over 9 hours, a 3 inch, 12 stitch incision to get a rice grain-sized biopsy specimen, & all the extra sedatives (& therefore, cost) that went along with an apparently very extensive biopsy procedure.
When my dad saw the size of the incision, he looked at me sadly & said, “I guess he’s just not a very good surgeon.” On the bright side, the incision healed up with no problems & I removed the stitches myself. On the crappy side, Chie’s sarcoma continued to grow.
The surgeon 2 people had recommended was off island & it also took a few calls to get his office to call me back. When we finally got our appointment on November 20, he took one look at the mass & said it was too large & beyond his abilities/equipment. Fair enough. I had also booked a consultation with another veterinary facility for today (Veterinary Emergency & Referral Center of Hawaii) because I could feel us running out of time.