If you have ever lost a loved one to cancer you probably understand me saying that you can become a little paranoid and believe everything slightly amiss is potentially that dreaded disease. I lost my beloved dog, Bella, to canine lymphoma almost two years ago, and I still find myself thinking such things. A limp is potentially bone cancer, and a wound without an obvious cause is skin cancer.
Of course, most things have a simple explanation.
Let me go back about 7 years. It was late August, and Bella developed a wound on her foot. It was swollen, there was a small hole between her toes and it was weeping sanguineous substance. It must also have been painful, because she carried her sore foot, refusing, except in extreme circumstances, to put weight on it.
After a few days we realised it wasn’t healing and so took her to the vet. They checked it out, prodding and poking, and prescribed a two weeks supply of antibiotics. There was no improvement, and the vet had no solution, so we had to sort it out ourselves.
Dried garlic came to our aid. We didn’t add it to her food but sprinkled it on her foot. After about 24 hours, healing had commenced and a scab had formed. It seemed like we were beating it … finally.
Wrong! Days later the wound exploded, opening back up and squirting out more sanguineous substance. Only this time it opened in a slightly different position. We were at a loss what to do. The vets were of no help, and poor Bella continued to limp.
One day, 3 months after her problem started, I was examining the hole when something shot out. Once I had cleaned it up, I discovered what it was … a grass seed! Finally, her foot healed, permanently this time.
So don’t forget. After walkies check your dog’s feet. It can save you and your dog a lot of heartache.
Dogs provide us with many funny moments, and often it can be when they are at their most mischievous . . . or perhaps that’s just my quirky sense of humour.
I remember a time, many years ago, when I had 5 standard poodles. Yes 5 – 2 adults and 3 pups! When Doug and I left the house we believed the safest place for them was the kitchen, but they were an inquisitive bunch, and being a pack, encouraged each other to do their worst. One of them would seek out food left on the surfaces, whether it was food remaining in a pan or dish, or simply an unwashed plate. By using a paw, it would crash to the floor and they would lick the remains.
Lesson 1: never leave dishes, plates and pans on the kitchen surface. The smell of food, even when it’s just a smattering, is irresistible.
For a while, this mischievous pack of dogs was well behaved . . . until one of them learned to open the fridge. It was a disaster. Whilst we were out, they consumed a 2kg margarine tub, a large block of cheese, and many other goodies. It must have been quiet a sight seeing the raid, and probably very funny. However, cleaning up the mess they had left was not something I would describe as even vaguely amusing. Not only was everything greasy, but, well, let’s just say lots of fat equates to very slippery intestines! And there were five of them! Not fun!
As punishment, Doug sat them in a row and marched up and down voicing his disapproval. They looked so scared and squeezed their terrified bodies closer together. It seemed work, and weeks passed before we encountered any more trouble. Maybe the large magnet on the fridge door helped a little too!
Lesson 2: Put a big magnet or lock on the fridge.
Had they finally learned to behave, or more accurately, had we learned what to do to avoid any situations? It seemed possible. We persisted with the magnet and never left food, even just scraps within their reach. We were always vigilant, checking and double-checking everything on our departure. Nothing could go wrong; we had it covered. Even so, returning home always caused a feeling of dread.
I put the key in the door. It was quiet. Something was wrong. They should be barking and pounding the door with their paws. I knew then they had misbehaved and my stomach sank.
I opened the door. I saw. I screamed.
They had knocked over the deep fat fryer! Oil was everywhere, across the floor, over the kitchen units, and on the dogs. It was a disaster. We both flipped!
Lesson 3: Don’t leave the deep fat fryer near the edge of the surface.
With hindsight, it was very funny. I can still see their oily sorrowful faces, and I can see them trying to get away, unable to get purchase on the slippery floor. They looked so scared, fearing the big man who forced them into a line and marched up and down.
‘He loves us really,’ one said. ‘Not today,’ came the reply.
Lesson 4: Make sure you have a sense of humour at all times.
Just before Christmas, a good friend of mine had had a bout of sickness whilst out shopping in a supermarket. Being the type of person she is, she didn’t want to be sick in the store or the car park, but instead chose her car.
When she related this story to me a couple of weeks after the event, I gave her quite a bit of stick, aware it had been nothing serious. I was amused by her choice of location, especially as her husband had to clean it up since she had been too ill to do it herself! Why she not chosen to go to the toilets in the store or found a hedge remains a mystery. Apparently, she hadn’t wanted to leave a mess. She’s such a good girl!
Her story continued to amuse me over the following weeks, and I found myself bringing it up wherever and whenever I could. Until . . .
My dog, Stilton was due his annual booster, and so I had to take him to the vet. He is only one year old, and he suffers from carsickness. Even traveling 4 miles used to be a trial. Once, when he was very small, I sensed what was about to happen so I hung him out of the car window to be sick!!! Before you say it, there weren’t any pedestrians about; we were driving along a country road!
Unfortunately, this trip to the vets was necessary, and at 24kg he is a bit too big to hang out of the window. The vet is located about 7 miles from home. He hadn’t had breakfast, and so hadn’t eaten for 13 hours. I hoped this would prevent a situation from occurring and it did; we arrived without a hitch.
Stilton was in his element. He was so excited, and didn’t stop whining, wagging and licking willing participants for the entire time. It was wonderful to witness. I am so proud of my little boy.
So, we began our journey home, and we arrived in the driveway without a problem. Had he grown out of his carsickness problem? It seemed likely.14 miles puke-free was an achievement!
My eyes glazed. I would be able to take him to the sea to play with the waves. We could go on long walks and watch the horses, sheep and the cattle. We could visit family and he could receive endless attention.
I turned off the engine and a strange smell wafted across my nostrils. I looked over my shoulder. Stilton looked to me with apologetic eyes. His brown liquid sick was over the car seat and the floor. Lovely!
I ask you, couldn’t he have waited ten seconds?
Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband too.
Do we pay enough attention to the state of our internal organs? If we could see what was going on, would we do more?
Imagine if our liver and kidneys were as visible as our skin. Would we not try to improve its appearance, even if it was only for vanity’s sake? Our organs are out of sight, but they should not be out of mind.
I have been pondering this for two reasons. Firstly, I am involved in a writing project regarding kidney transplants, and secondly, my delightful dog, Bella, has cancer and is on chemotherapy.
As the regular readers of my blog will know, Bella was diagnosed with a lymphoma just before Christmas. The cancer was very aggressive and took hold very quickly, so we put her on chemotherapy. With dogs, it is usually without complications, but she very nearly died.
She suffered from Tumour Lysis Syndrome, which can happen when the cancerous cells dissolve into the blood stream and are not dissipated quickly enough. It was touch and go for a week, but thankfully she pulled through and is now back on chemotherapy and doing excellently.
Dogs with lymphomas are never truly cured and often die from organ failure. So I have put together an assortment of remedies to keep her in full working order. These are her supplements for two days.
She has turmeric, garlic, kelp, Q10, calcium, omega 3, multi-vitamins, arginine, glutamine, red clover, dandelion, milk thistle, ginger, ginko biloba . . .
No wonder she has the vitality of a pup!
I wonder if my organs are as clean. I very much doubt it.
Sometimes I stop to consider how lucky I am. Naturally, there are days when I feel to be the unluckiest person alive, but there are times when I think I am blessed. I enjoy those days the most.
I feel lucky right now. If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know my dog, Bella, has cancer – a lymphoma. She’s had one hell of a fight. Not only with the cancer, which is one of the most aggressive as far as lymphomas go, but after having a very rare and life-threatening reaction to the chemotherapy.
She came through it, and so we decided to try again with the treatment. If we didn’t, more than likely, her cancer would return and she would die within weeks.
My heart was pounding and clarity in my head replaced with fuzz, as I waited for Bella to return home from a 40-minute chemo session. After the last treatment, she had to be hopitalised and didn’t eat voluntarily for a week, so I had every right to be worried.
So how would she cope? Would we lose her this time?
Hell no. The first thing Bella wanted to do, when she rushed into the house, was eat. Yes eat! And she did exactly that.
No side effects, whatsoever!
So I feel pretty lucky.
Maybe next time I’ll write about a one-eyed cat I once found. His name was Tingle, he was feral, and he lived under the floorboards.