Friday, June 5, 2009

The Beginning of the End?...

It's inevitable, isn't it? Dogs simply have a shorter lifespan that humans, so even if they live out a long and full life, it feels too short. When I first adopted Bodhi, he was approximately a year old. I told myself then not too expect much more than 8 years with him since he is a "large breed". Well, our 7 years together have flown by. It has been in the back of my mind that he is approaching that dreaded age that I had previously put in my head, but his health has always been perfect and we've lead an active lifestyle. On a semi-regular basis we would run the trails in Redwood Park up to 3 times a week. It really is his happy place. I've always loved watching him zip around, sniffing, peeing, and saying hello to all the different dogs on the trail. He just loves it. I love that.

The first "blow" came last November when he was diagnosed with some arthritis in his spine around his hips. But that we could deal with. A little medication. A slower pace. Fine.

Then, this January a simple hike ended with a limping Bodhi. Pulled a muscle? Overdid it, I thought. But with no improvement a vet visit revealed he had torn his CCL (ligament, right rear knee). Hmmnn... That's not good for sure. The $5,000 surgery was just not in the budget, plus after talking with several owners who had gone through it with their dogs I found both pros and cons to that option. I'd wait for a bit to make the decision. Perhaps his running days were over. That seems reasonable. We could still hike. And after 6 months he's walking with an even gait.

Right around that same time a sore developed on his shoulder. Hot spots. He'd had those before. Fine. But it didn't go away, in fact, it didn't even get better. Just worse. Concurrently he seemed to lose his appetite, he'd strain to have mushy stools, he'd strain to pee, he needed to go for potty walks more than twice his normal routine. Okay.... something is "up". The voice in the back of the head said it would not be good news. But we don't really want to think about that! Do we?!....

Yes, the sore tested positive for round cell tumor. Could be bad. May or may not be related to the other issues going on. I think it's time for a second opinion here.

In the meantime, yesterday, he was unable to urinate at all. Today, all we know is that it is an inflamed prostate. But since he's a neutered male the chances are most likely that it is prostate cancer. Cancer..... Is that the voice in the back of my head again? No, it's the vet. I'm trying very hard not to jump ahead here. Medicine is one step at a time. One agonizingly slow step at a time. So we are, at this moment, waiting for the cell aspiration cytology. "By Monday or maybe sooner".... Tick Tock, Tick Tock....

This cancer, the vet said, does not have a good prognosis. She said more, used bigger words. But my head was spinning. So that is how I say it now. He was started on a medication that "may buy him a little time" by reducing the inflammation. But it won't get rid of the cancer.

Officially, Bodhi has not been diagnosed with cancer. But I can't help but wonder if I will be faced with making a decision about his life in the next week. I am not ready for that. I mean, on the outside it's just that he can't pee. And although he has mellowed he is not a sickly dog. He's just old. That is what I think. What I want to think. But the vet and the tests and this reality... they are sounding like that voice in the back of my head. The one I've been trying so hard to ignore.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. "Monday or maybe sooner" seems an eternity away. I am so emotional. I want to make decisions based on fact. I want to be clear headed. I'm not though. I'm sad.

And I'm beginning to wonder if little Biella, full of life and love and enthusiasm beyond, came into our lives to soften this blow. I don't know how much time I have left with Bodhi. My soulmate dog. It could be one week, it could be years. But when the inevitable comes, it will be quite a blow.


  1. well, it's hard to write through tears welling and streaming but this is very well written. it makes the one thing i never wanted to happen to bodhi pretty close to a reality. it's just so sad i can hardly stand it..
    much love to him and you..

  2. Sweet Bodhi. My heart aches for you, Tonya. Such a difficult price we pay for sharing our lives with these most amazing critters, who show us the true meaning of unconditional love. We will be thinking of you with love.


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