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The Worst Words: “Your Dog Has Cancer”

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September 13, 2012
The Worst Words: “Your Dog Has Cancer” - 10

It’s nearly midnight, Sept. 11. I choose not to mourn on this day as it’s my son’s birthday–he turned 6 years old. Despite that vow, I lay in bed, tears running from my eyes as Kona, my 8-year-old Lab, lays beside me in the full-sized bed; his usual spot since my wife and I separated and finalized our divorce. His breathing labored, or maybe it’s my imagination run amok, hearing things that aren’t really there, not yet anyway.

The reality is, if the veterinarian’s hunch is correct, something which will need to be confirmed with a radiologist and further tests, then Kona is suffering from Canine Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. Even with aggressive treatment, the vast majority of dogs only live 6 months to a year. Likely, just as the cool air of fall encroaches and upland seasons open, giving way to a two-year-record waterfowl hatch, I will have to make the heart-wrenching decision to end Kona’s life.

CHANGING BEHAVIOR

It started with lethargy; nothing serious, he’s always been a laid back dog in the house–I chalked it up to boredom. The lack of stamina I first attributed to a dearth of training. Then last week he just didn’t seem right. He tired much more quickly than he should have, even if it was a little warm and he was out of shape; once even laying down at heel upon returning from picking a bumper up on the “T drill.”

I began to wonder if the switch from Premium Performance to a senior 7-year-plus formula had something to do with it. It was possible, but could also be attributed to an older dog not wanting to do pile work–although that seemed less likely to me. I planned to change his diet back to the performance blend.

Then, last Friday, while hand-throwing marks and running him on some memories, I noticed the slightest change in Kona’s gait. The insignificant head bob was so small that I couldn’t tell if it was the right or left front leg that was bothering him. By Sunday, his right “wrist” would be swollen and he would have a noticeable limp. I waited to see if more rest on Monday might help. It didn’t, so I took him to the vet.

X-rays revealed points of concern to the vet, who wanted to send the film off for consultation by the radiologist. She said they would probably recommend chest x-rays (because apparently the cancer metastasizes in the lungs, which would explain Kona’s irritating hack on occasion) and would probably come back with two or three possibilities; cancer being the big one.

It took a few moments to realize that she was preparing me for a likely diagnosis. I left the office in a haze, trying to figure out how I had gone from an imagined worst-case scenario of a torn ligament to my dog dying. My son, not quite grasping the gravity of the situation, began to inspect Kona himself before finally asking: “Is Kona sick, daddy?”

“Yes. Yes, he might be.”

“Well, can we make him better?”

“I don’t know, son. I don’t know.”

With my two charges loaded up in the SUV, I started the rig. Or tried to. It just made a noise like that of a faulty starter; not that I actually know the sound, but the greasy dude at the nearby service center said that’s likely what it was.

My life has officially become a country song. Divorced. Broken-down rig. Dying dog. The self pity is running deep tonight as I listen to Kona’s seemingly forced breathing. I know I’ve made mistakes in life, but seriously karma, enough is enough! A man’s dog should be off limits.

While we wait for the radiologist to give his or her evaluation, the vet has Kona on pain meds to ease the hurting in his right front leg and to make him more comfortable. Something that will likely be the primary means of treatment until it’s time to end the suffering for good.

I lay here in bed, Kona beside me. Only 8 years old. We were counting on at least one or two more pheasant seasons together and more than that in the duck blind before he would retire to the leisure life. Reaching over to stroke his soft black fur, I can only think of all of our adventures together in places like Oklahoma and New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana.

And then, as if karma means to remind me not to get too comfortable in life or even my own thoughts, all I can imagine is how I’ve failed him; failed to take advantage of training time over the last couple of years, failed to finish his senior title in NAHRA or finished in HRC, failed to hunt more as life’s issues encroached, failed to give him what his talent, genetics, disposition and desire to please were cultivated for and what he deserved.

I feel as though I’ve failed. Not a hunt test title or a magical number of days afield, but him. Logically I know he doesn’t care, but that doesn’t change the impending sense of loss I’m feeling.

Stay tuned for more self-loathing and sadness as this saga continues. As a writer, communicating is a form of therapy. Maybe something good will come out of it or maybe karma will bitch slap me again. I don’t know. I just miss my dog already.

 

Comments (10)

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from Tuesday Stine wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

So glad to hear your dog doesn't have cancer!!! Please look into Diatomaceous Earth. They sell it in pet stores and dog supply mags. It is perfect for joint problems and pain. It will help so much, trust me on this. My family and I take it as well. It cures back pain, arthritis and many other ailments in people as well as animals.
Check out: "wolfcreekranch.com and earthworkshealth.com"

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Hey all, thanks for the thoughts, prayers, wishes, good vibes, etc., and thanks for the comments, too! As you can see in the latest post, it's not cancer but degenerative joint disease. A much better problem with which to deal!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

have no regrets. your dog knows nothing and doesn't care about titles or ribbons. what they care about is all the good times they spent with you.

hope all works out well. you and kona are in my prayers

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Get Kona on some anti-biotic. Sounds like there is a good possibility it might be one of the many tick diseases. A few years ago my ex-vet misdiagnosed our Siberian Husky with cancer, turned out to be ehrlichia canis. www.marvistavet.com/html/body_ehrlichia_infection_in_dogs.html
By the time this was figured out it was too late for treatment and he died.
So just in case, as a precaution, 30 days of antibiotic will not hurt and just might save his life.
Good luck.
later,
charlie

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tuesday Stine wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Brian, I am truly sorry that your dog is ill and hope that the vet is wrong about cancer. If Kona is able to eat, I highly recommend you feed him Diatomaceous earth "food grade" mixed with Organic yogurt and Flaxseed oil. I feed DE to my dogs everyday, it helps with joint pain and strengthens their bones. The yogurt and flaxseed oil has been proven to help the body fight cancer as well as add good bacteria to the stomach. Also, completely change Konas diet. Go natural and unprocessed. Not raw. If you are a hunter, cook deer, elk, duck etc. with veggies. If Kona gets diarrhea for any reason, feed him canned pumpkin. There are many things you can do to keep him longer, regardless of what the vet may say. I have years of experience with dogs and health care. Remember, if you have hope, that will relay to Kona, which will in turn give him hope. Keep fighting. Much love, T.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Huntn4Bigft wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Mere words cant express. I went thru cancer with the best friend I have ever known. I watched him be born and 16 years later held him in my arms and cried like a girl waiting for the drugs to end his suffering. I refuse to think of his end but rather dwell on the fun...... like the time the badger chased us and he left pawprints up my back, on top of my hat and right on down my front. Or the time he....... Well you get the point. Have fun EVERY minute you can, no matter what else happens. Time is always too short.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from The Captain wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Brian, I am sorry to hear about Kona (if the diagnosis is correct). It sounds as though you have a had a tough run of it lately.
The truth of it is, it is hard to lose a dog because they are far more noble than we, their human counterparts, will ever be. If we concentrated on what we should have/could have done for our best four-legged companions then we would all be left woefully short.
Humans are nowhere near the nobility of a dog. It will always be so. We are grateful for their companionship and loyalty, and I know Kona is proud of how much he has taught you.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Sorry to hear about Kona Brian, this is never a easy decission. Hoping for the best for you.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Johnnie wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Kona, I wish you well. I hope your ailment is just arthritis. Hang in there Kona, be strong and fight, don't let it get the best of you. My prayers are with you.
Brian, I have had dogs through out my life and it is never easy when a dog dies. We have three dogs and two are the same age, so when the day comes for their passing it is going to be a rough one around here. It seems life has sent you some very trying times. We can't change the past, so don't overly spend time thinking you should have done this, you should have done that; you will just beat yourself up.
I wish all well........... Johnnie.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Brian, I hope the vet is wrong! If the vet is right you will have my sympathies and thoughts. I've followed you and Kona along now for over a year here on the website. I've lost three of my hunting buddies, two labs and my little Brittany. Brings tears to my eyes even now.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report

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from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Brian, I hope the vet is wrong! If the vet is right you will have my sympathies and thoughts. I've followed you and Kona along now for over a year here on the website. I've lost three of my hunting buddies, two labs and my little Brittany. Brings tears to my eyes even now.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Johnnie wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Kona, I wish you well. I hope your ailment is just arthritis. Hang in there Kona, be strong and fight, don't let it get the best of you. My prayers are with you.
Brian, I have had dogs through out my life and it is never easy when a dog dies. We have three dogs and two are the same age, so when the day comes for their passing it is going to be a rough one around here. It seems life has sent you some very trying times. We can't change the past, so don't overly spend time thinking you should have done this, you should have done that; you will just beat yourself up.
I wish all well........... Johnnie.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from The Captain wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Brian, I am sorry to hear about Kona (if the diagnosis is correct). It sounds as though you have a had a tough run of it lately.
The truth of it is, it is hard to lose a dog because they are far more noble than we, their human counterparts, will ever be. If we concentrated on what we should have/could have done for our best four-legged companions then we would all be left woefully short.
Humans are nowhere near the nobility of a dog. It will always be so. We are grateful for their companionship and loyalty, and I know Kona is proud of how much he has taught you.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from X2DKkiller wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Sorry to hear about Kona Brian, this is never a easy decission. Hoping for the best for you.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Huntn4Bigft wrote 1 year 31 weeks ago

Mere words cant express. I went thru cancer with the best friend I have ever known. I watched him be born and 16 years later held him in my arms and cried like a girl waiting for the drugs to end his suffering. I refuse to think of his end but rather dwell on the fun...... like the time the badger chased us and he left pawprints up my back, on top of my hat and right on down my front. Or the time he....... Well you get the point. Have fun EVERY minute you can, no matter what else happens. Time is always too short.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tuesday Stine wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Brian, I am truly sorry that your dog is ill and hope that the vet is wrong about cancer. If Kona is able to eat, I highly recommend you feed him Diatomaceous earth "food grade" mixed with Organic yogurt and Flaxseed oil. I feed DE to my dogs everyday, it helps with joint pain and strengthens their bones. The yogurt and flaxseed oil has been proven to help the body fight cancer as well as add good bacteria to the stomach. Also, completely change Konas diet. Go natural and unprocessed. Not raw. If you are a hunter, cook deer, elk, duck etc. with veggies. If Kona gets diarrhea for any reason, feed him canned pumpkin. There are many things you can do to keep him longer, regardless of what the vet may say. I have years of experience with dogs and health care. Remember, if you have hope, that will relay to Kona, which will in turn give him hope. Keep fighting. Much love, T.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

have no regrets. your dog knows nothing and doesn't care about titles or ribbons. what they care about is all the good times they spent with you.

hope all works out well. you and kona are in my prayers

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 1 year 29 weeks ago

Hey all, thanks for the thoughts, prayers, wishes, good vibes, etc., and thanks for the comments, too! As you can see in the latest post, it's not cancer but degenerative joint disease. A much better problem with which to deal!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tuesday Stine wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

So glad to hear your dog doesn't have cancer!!! Please look into Diatomaceous Earth. They sell it in pet stores and dog supply mags. It is perfect for joint problems and pain. It will help so much, trust me on this. My family and I take it as well. It cures back pain, arthritis and many other ailments in people as well as animals.
Check out: "wolfcreekranch.com and earthworkshealth.com"

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Get Kona on some anti-biotic. Sounds like there is a good possibility it might be one of the many tick diseases. A few years ago my ex-vet misdiagnosed our Siberian Husky with cancer, turned out to be ehrlichia canis. www.marvistavet.com/html/body_ehrlichia_infection_in_dogs.html
By the time this was figured out it was too late for treatment and he died.
So just in case, as a precaution, 30 days of antibiotic will not hurt and just might save his life.
Good luck.
later,
charlie

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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