“A dog is the only thing on Earth that loves you more than he loves himself”
— Josh Billings
Since my last post, things have gotten pretty bad.
Monday morning, I knew there was something off with Buddy. He had been acting weird off and on the past few days – like he does after seizures, but I hadn’t seen him have a seizure in over a month. I had to work at my bank job on Monday, so I asked my dad to keep an eye on him and take him to my animal hospital job for observation if he didn’t snap out of it in a little bit. I sent a text to a coworker letting her know that there was a chance that Buddy may be coming in, and I went to work.
I got a call around noon from one of my vets letting me know that my dad had rushed Buddy in, that he was having seizures that wouldn’t stop, and that I needed to get down there immediately. I left the bank as soon as I could and flew to the animal hospital. I wasn’t prepared to see him when I walked in… he had been sedated because that was the only way they could make the seizures stop. Every time he would start to wake up, he would start seizing again. He was intubated to help him breathe. Even though he was unconscious, I could tell from looking at him that my Buddy was gone. He didn’t give us a choice, his little body told us that he was done fighting. He had fought so hard!
When his first mommy got put into a nursing home, one of our vets, Holly, offered to take him in. He was going on 14 years old, and had recently been diagnosed with lymphoma. His life expectancy was a month or two at best. Holly had always wanted to help “hospice stage” pups, and happily added him to her family. And month after month, this happy little boy surprised everyone – aside from some diarrhea, he never even got sick! Momma Holly moved back to her home an hour or so away this past June. She was stuck with the decision of taking Buddy with her, which would mean that he’d be home alone for many many hours some days; or leave him with us at the animal hospital. Buddy craved attention, and needed to be let out to potty every few hours…having him home by himself wouldn’t have been fair to him. So she made the difficult decision of leaving him here with us. I had watched Buddy a few times over the years, and my dog loved him, so I offered to let him stay with me. He blended into my family of crazy pets so perfectly, and he was always so happy! It was only a matter of time before he had my dad completely trained – one look with his “sad eyes” and my dad would be giving him treats! I used to joke that Buddy just saw my dad as a “food machine”.
New Years Eve 2015 I woke up to the sound of Buddy licking over and over and over again. I thought maybe he had a piece of food stuck in his beard, and turned the light on to check. Instead, I saw him having his first seizure. I was scared to death. It only lasted maybe 2 minutes, but it felt like it went on for hours. Seeing his helpless little body convulse like that was one of the scaries things I have ever seen in my life. Then, just as suddenly, the seizure stopped, and he popped right up and shook it off. He was a bit wobbly for a little bit, but then went right back to his normal self. I took him in to work with me and he got a clean bill of health. We hoped that it was just a weird fluke. That night we wound up at the emergency hospital because he had two more. I took him home the morning of the 2nd because he hadn’t had any more seizures. I had the day off of work, but I dropped him off there just to be safe. He was really sleepy the whole day, and walked in circles when I set him down, but otherwise seemed okay. He had been started on seizure meds and had his dose of Pred cranked way up, and we hoped the worst was behind us. Again, we were wrong. Early in the morning of the 3rd he had two more seizures. The last one he wouldn’t snap out of afterwards like he had every other time. When the seizure stopped, he just layed there motionless. I grabbed him and flew to the emergency hospital – the usual 25 minute drive took me around 10 minutes. As I ran in, the staff at the front desk thought he was dead and called for a STAT. One of the techs grabbed him and ran into the back. I was terrified. After what seemed like hours, a vet came out and let me know that he was still very out of it, but he was stable. He prepared me for the worst – Buddy’s lymphoma had likely spread to his brain. He warned me that a difficult decision was going to have to happen very very soon. I asked him to please keep him stable for as long as they could so that I could take him back to my hospital and have Holly and the rest of his animal hospital family be with him. I didn’t want to say goodbye to him in someplace so unfamiliar without everyone he loved around him. I headed home, sobbing the entire way. He stayed at the emergency hospital until Monday afternoon, when I was able to take him back to my animal hospital. He wasn’t quite Buddy yet at that point, but he was way better than he had been. And that was his last seizure…until now.
Again, our happy little man destroyed all odds – the days that he was given to live turned into weeks, and then a month…he was just shy of hitting the 2 month mark when his little body couldn’t fight any longer. Momma Holly wasn’t able to be with him with such short notice, but he was surrounded by the rest of his family – both the animal hospital staff as well as my own family, who had grown to love him so much. It was impossible not to love him. He was such a good dog. We all kissed him and told him how much we loved him…and then he was gone. A huge piece of my heart died at that very moment…a void that I don’t think will ever be replaced. I have lost several cats over the years, all whom I loved to death…but this was different. This was the first time I’d lost a dogs. The hurt I felt…the hurt I feel..is unlike anything I’ve felt before. I can only compare it to how I felt after losing one of my closest friends, or after losing my grandparents…but even then, it felt different. Even stronger, somehow.
Two days have gone by, and it was time for Oreos appointment with his specialist. I went in expecting the worst…which is exactly what I got. The vet said that at this point he wouldn’t even waste his money on a CT scan. He is very confident that Oreo has a nasal tumor. He said that Oreos right nostril seems to be completely blocked – little to no air is able to get through. We have an appointment for him to have a nasal scope and flush next Friday, the 4th. At that time, if they see a tumor they will biopsy it and try to debulk it. They will also be looking for something like a foreign body or fungal infection – both of which would be very favorable, but very unlikely.
When the results come back, if it is a tumor, I won’t hesitate to do any necessary treatment. At this point it sounds like my best bet will be to take him to North Carolina for state-of-the-art radiation. Left untreated, dogs with nasal tumors who are exhibiting symptoms such as nosebleeds (which he has had), live for roughly 70 days. SEVENTY DAYS. That’s just over two months. I can’t believe that my boy, who is otherwise so happy and seemingly healthy, could be gone so soon. I won’t believe it. I don’t care what I have to do; I will do anything and everything to have him healthy for as long as I possibly can.
I told him that if he goes to visit Buddy this soon, that I’m coming with him. Recent studies have shown that people really can die of a broken heart…and I know my heart wouldn’t be able to handle losing them both so soon.