April Fool’s Makes a Fool of Me
April Fool’s has always been like a special holiday for me. I’m really a 12-year-old trapped in the body of an adult. I’m obnoxious, annoying, gossipy and I still laugh hysterically at fart jokes or when I hear the word “penis”. This day has always been about me taping the phones in my office down so when they rang, no one could pick them up or even, I once flipped over someone’s desk and I put all of their drawers in upside down, flipped the desk back over and then when they opened their drawer, everything fell out on the floor. This day has always been great… until today.
If you follow my blog or catch me on Facebook, you know that my mutt of 13 years had a biopsy done last week for a tumor that the vet suspected was cancerous. After a week passed with no results, I decided to call the vet today. When I called, the receptionist told me that the results were in but that I would have to talk to the vet. Kind of unusual when I am friends with the techs there. Of course, I went into panic mode immediately. Then, I waited for the call, dreading every passing minute. After what seemed like an eternity, the phone rang.
What I dreaded the most was flashing through my head and for a minute, I missed what the veterinarian was saying. When I slowed my brain down, I heard what I didn’t want to ever hear. “It’s cancer.” Everything else in the world went black and the rest of the conversation became a jumbled mess that I am still trying to sort out. (I did manage to write notes but it does me no good because I left them at work.) What I do remember is, my very, very best friend has cancer. For the people out there “in the know”, the vet said the margins were good (which she said means that they believe they got the cancer which caused the masses) and that the pathologist believes that Bowser has low-grade oral melanoma.
At this point, we can choose one of 2 options. The first is to proceed with an aspiration of the lymph nodes (cytology). They would go in and remove some of the fluid in Bowser’s lymph nodes and then send it off to the pathologist. Only then would we know what stage the cancer is. Or option #2: do nothing. The vet said that some owners decide to not do the aspiration. I guess I can maybe understand that. We already know it’s cancer, why put the dog (and us) through more?
If we move forward with the cytology and the cancer is aggressive (which most oral melanomas are very aggressive), Bowser would have a referral to an oncologist who would then do an ultrasound of his abdomen and some X-Rays. Treatment for the melanoma is a vaccine which is delivered via a Canine Transdermal Device every two weeks for 4 treatments (each cost min. of $650). After the fourth dose, Bowser would receive an additional dose every 6 months for the remainder of his life. This treatment was approved in 2010.
On a hot August day many, many years ago, I happened upon a tiny, toothless puppy that was dumped in a gas station parking lot. Grieving after the loss of a pregnancy, I longed to play mother to something, anything. Seeing an animal in need, there was no question that I would scoop him up and take him home. Thirteen years later, that little brown mutt has been my savior, my confidant and my most dearest friend. His tongue has licked away more tears than one could imagine, his paw has laid atop my hand through the loss of two more pregnancies and his strength has given me courage. Bowser has lived in numerous places but he’s always been right by my side. My beloved Pibble (pit bull/mutt) has helped me raise 3 beautiful boys and a deranged feral kitten (who is now 2) and he did it all with patience and understanding. He’s not-so-willingly shared his home with a never-ending list of animals in need and regardless of how much I smell like another dog, he has always loved me just the same. I think he’s always known my calling for animal rescue and while he isn’t happy about it sometimes, I hope that he knows that I do much of it because of him. Somewhere out there, every lost or forgotten pet has someone who needs them, they just don’t know it yet.
I can speculate and say that I don’t know where I would be without Bowser but I’m pretty sure that I would have missed out on one of the greatest parts of my life. I’ve had the best, best friend anyone could have. While I don’t know where this path will take us and I’m not sure what to decide, I know this much, this dog will always hold my heart in his paws. A few years ago, I broke down and got a tattoo on my right wrist. The significance? The tattoo was a living memorial to my best friend. Inside a simple filigree heart is a paw. The tattoo is a reminder that no matter where life takes me, my best friend will always be inside my heart and right by my side, pulling me in the right direction. I guess I never understood how much this tattoo would prove true.
While our days are good and relatively normal right now, I’m going to try not to think of what time we have left or of how bad things can (and probably will) get. I’m going to try not to over-react and I’m going to try very hard to live in the moment of every second that we have together. For now, I’m going to remember to laugh in times like this. I mean, he did just fart when he stood up. These are the moments of our lives.
P.S.: if there are any dog-biting vampires out there, I can think of a pooch that should live forever. Where’s Edward Cullen when you need him?