This is going to be a difficult one to write. But not nearly as difficult as the one that will come later on. At the start of the year, just over a month ago, our chocolate lab was diagnosed with bone cancer. He’s always had a bit of a limp in his frosty years, one we always chalked up to a bit of arthritis and poor toenail maintenance on our part. But in that void of a week between Christmas and New Year’s, his limp became exponentially worse and showed differently. He was heavily favoring his front left leg.
An appointment was made with our vet, and after that initial visit it was hard to pinpoint exactly what was going on with him without x-rays and tests. The initial step was getting his pain under control. After a week of the heavy duty pain meds, he was no better, and now not putting his back right leg down. He was down to only two good legs. We went back to the vet, and this time they did x-rays. Lesions were found on his bones, one on the back right, and another on the front left.
They would have a radiologist look at it to confirm, but bone cancer was the conclusion. We started talking about his quality of life. The end of his life. How it might look. How to tell when we’ve arrived there. They said if we chose to euthanize that day, they wouldn’t say we were wrong. I wasn’t ready for that. Granted, I will never be ready for it. But I was especially less ready when he was looking up at me so bright-eyed.
We agreed to stay the current course, see if the pain medications started helping if we upped the dosage. A few days later, the radiologist called and confirmed: it was bone cancer. Although, amongst all the awful news, there were two small bits of good news. The first being: his front left leg did NOT appear to be a tumor in his bone, but severe arthritis. The back leg, however, was a tumor in his bone. But it had not metastasized yet, meaning we could still have a few months with him if everything goes “well”. Considering the initial indication had been weeks, or even days, I was relieved to hear I could potentially have a few months left to spoil my beautiful boy.
Fast forward a month, and he’s still here. He’s still happy. He’s still obsessed with tacos. He only walks on three legs now, and wears his harness all the time so we can help him around; but he’s still here and he’s still happy, and that is all that matters to me. We have all settled into this new normal for him. My partner carries him up the stairs to bed every night. I carry him down every morning. 90% of the time, while moving around the house, we have a hold of him to help him support his weight. We always go outside with him, a thing that’s been really fun in the negative-teens cold lately. But it’s a thing I will gladly do for him. I will gladly have my hair freeze if it’s the price I must pay for more time with him.
The point of this post is that I might go quiet for a while. I might use this space to process. I might talk a lot more about this. I might never mention it again. I may write about it, I may write something inspired by it. I don’t really know what I’ll do yet, other than fall apart when the time comes, but I process things by writing about them. So, if you notice my tone goes a bit… dark… this is why. For the most part, I am doing ok right now. He’s holding steady. But there are times I look at him, like this afternoon, and out of nowhere it hits me like a truck that in a short time, he won’t be here anymore. He won’t be there to look down at. I realized a few days ago that he likely won’t still be here for his 14th birthday.
He’s the best boy, and I hope we still have time to have all the tacos with him.