Being the Dog

Hey, Buddy here.  A few of you are new to my whole life and missed one of my initial posts introducing myself and why things are the way they are.  Mom thought we should re-post this for those of you new FURiends and remind you all how important it is to just “Be the Dog!”  It’s a big lesson for humans to learn, but watch us dogs closely… and learn ::


Buddy’s “Be the DOG” Life


We lost our first dog, Bob, to hemangiosarcoma quite suddenly in February of 2006.  He was a Golden/Sammy mix, only 8 years old and the love of our life.  It took us a while to process the shock and grief but when we finally did we started watching and our local shelters for some new paws in our house.  It was too quiet.  Finally I saw not one, but two of our biggest weaknesses come in to the local shelter on the same day… two Goldens.  One was eight and the other was four.  I was leery of the eight year old, didn’t want to lose another that soon, but the 4 year old sounded perfect.  Off I went. 


I met Buddy (the 4 year old) first.  I was in a fenced “meet-and-greet” area when they brought me in.  To say he was enthusiastic would be understating it in a big way.  Buddy knocked me over with his big love.  He was sweet, but I was afraid he was a little overwhelming and might be a bit much for the 2 cats we had waiting at home.  I asked about the other Golden who had been brought in on the same day, might they be related?  Turns out the family was moving and could not take the dogs with them so surrendered them to the shelter.  They brought out the 8 year old girl and she just quietly leaned against me and looked up with the sweetest eyes that could not be denied.  She was Buddy’s mother.  You may have guessed by now…  I went home with 2 dogs.  I didn’t really want the wild man and I didn’t really want the 8 year old and I ended up getting 2 of the best dogs we could ever want in our life!


We became a wonderful family, as if we had always been together.  Three years later, canine cancer reared its ugly head once again in our life.  In February of 2010, Buddy became critically ill with an ear infection that crossed the membrane into his brain.  I took him over to the vet each day and sat on a stool outside his cage so he wouldn’t think he had been dropped off at the shelter again or feel scared and alone while they fought to save his life.  Each night I would take him home and we would watch over him to make sure he made it to the next morning.  We also found a growth on his head that just looked like a blood blister.  Turns out the growth was Melanoma, and chances are the ear infection got so out of control because his immune system was severely compromised and couldn’t fight a normal infection.  The vet and all of the techs saved him, removed the growth and we started looking at things a little differently.  We were told they got “clean margins” which is great, so not to worry. 


About 6 months later another growth popped up, we had it removed and it was also melanoma.  Still a “stage 1” so no need for real concern according to the doc.  Our radar was much more attentive now.  A month later, another growth.  We went in and removed this one as well since Buddy was strong.  When another growth showed up a month after that, we had a talk with the doc.  I did not want to keep “slicing and dicing” our dog and she agreed that any more surgery would not be a good idea.  The disease was becoming systemic and it was now time to see where it went and move into the comfort and maintenance stage of care (palliative care) for Buddy.


A few months later Buddy suddenly started balking at going up stairs and his back legs grew weak.  I was afraid the cancer had metastasized to his brain.  We took him in, and the doc felt it was more an arthritis situation… everything is not cancer when your dog has cancer! When Buddy had been so sick with the ear infection, his doctor had discovered that his thyroid levels were way down.  Since that time he had been on thyroid medication.  She added a very low dose of Prednisone and by the next day he was back to being Buddy!  What I later learned is that this combination is actually a cancer treatment put forth by Alfred J. Plechner, DVM and it worked like a charm on Buddy.  Buddy enjoyed a wonderful 5 month complete remission with no new growths and boundless energy.

Two months ago Buddy, quite unceremoniously, emerged from remission.  In our daily adoration of all that is Buddy we noticed a new mass.  Then a new lesion.  Then another mass.  We notice a new “something” pretty regularly now.  The important thing is that Buddy still feels good.  That is our only absolute and steadfast rule.  Buddy must be enjoying being Buddy.  Every day must be the best day of Buddy’s life and our goal is to make this one better than the last.  I was feeling pretty badly one day after finding a new mass and just looking at him longingly, when he just rolled onto his back and started rolling back and forth with a big grin on his face just begging to be scratched and tickled.  This, of course, I did and he kicked his legs and wiggled with glee.  It struck me that we really have so much to learn on how to live from dogs.  Buddy was not focused on cancer.  He did not know he had a new “mass” and could care less.  Right now he felt good and he was happy, so let’s celebrate being happy.  You see there are only two times in a dog’s life:  NOW and NOT NOW.  Dogs live in the NOW and it makes everything so much simpler. 

I have read more than once how important it is when facing cancer with your dog to keep your attitude positive and keep life normal for them.  They pick up so much from our moods.  Don’t begin living life as if they are gone before they are.  It’s not easy at first, but when you get the hang of it you have so much fun just “being” with your fur kid again and you find you aren’t missing the NOW.  Buddy even started a facebook page to spread awareness from a dog’s perspective: 

                                    Buddy’s “Be the Dog” Life

It is a place where we share resources and news about cancer so we can all learn and help each other.  Most importantly, it is a place where Buddy checks in with the fun things he is doing and even how he feels when he goes to the doc.  He’s doing what he does best, and that’s “Be a Dog.”   It kinda helps keep pet parents fighting the fight grounded and reminded of what this is like from the pet’s perspective.  Once you can do that, it is a whole lot easier to get your attitude back on track and get into the NOW and just throw the ball or have another treat or just enjoy a walk in the sunshine.

So that’s where we stand with Buddy right now.  He is a gentle giant and we are enjoying every day with him thoroughly.  We are reminded to live every day and not wait for later, to love every day and not waste it yearning for something else or dwelling on what isn’t.  We are truly having the best time.  It is a wonderful lesson we plan to take forward with us and learn from our best friend and hopefully pass on to those who are lucky enough not to have to go through cancer to learn these great truths.  Now if you’ll excuse me, it is a sunny day and I think I’ll just go out and roll around in the warm sun!


About airPA

CEO of airPA. Corporate Flight Attendant, PA on the fly, In-Flight chef.
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