Two days ago my dog Zoffa (shepherd mix) and I were at the vet’s office. She was eagerly pawing at the door, signaling her wishes to vacate the premises! I was expecting to hear that her eye infection was healing nicely. But instead, our longtime veterinarian said, “I don’t like what I’m feeling.” My throat tightened, and my ears honed in for an explanation. Unfortunately, his next word was “lymphoma.” I’d just had a test over various cancers in nursing school, and I’m all too familiar with the treatment and prognosis of people with this aggressive cancer diagnosis. As tears streamed down my face, the vet just shook his head while petting Zoffa. He kept repeating: “I wish I had better news for you. Now you have a lot to think about in the next week.” He went on to inform me of the exorbitant cost of canine chemotherapy, and the fact that treatment, at best, would most likely extend the life of the dog for only two years.
All I would be “thinking” about is how much my dog means to me and whether to put her through cancer treatment. It took every ounce of self-restraint in my body to not grab and cuddle her on the floor in the exam room. With a lump in my throat, and anticipating uncontrollable sobbing in my immediate future, I tried to put on a brave face for my little Zoffa, who is actually 110 pounds of little. (But that’s down from a pleasantly plump 119 of last year!)
She enjoyed a rawhide treat on our drive home. I was deep in thought …
Zoffa brought my fiancé and me together. I had a crush on him, and Zoffa was his 2-year-old puppy. I remember watching him give her a bone and then take it away, a technique he said would prevent her from biting his future children. Hearing him talk about kids and the way he played and cared for his dog spoke volumes to me. Zoffa and I were friends right off the bat. It didn’t take long for her ‘Dad’ to follow suit, and soon all three of us began dating!
Today, more than five years later, my relationship with Zoffa is something I cherish greatly. I look into her eyes and know that she understands me when I gripe about receiving tires for a Valentine’s Day gift. She makes a wonderful pillow and gives the best hugs.
Fortunately, my sister who works at an animal clinic advised me to get a second opinion, and I’ve scheduled an appointment two days from today. Cross your fingers that I’ll hear better news. But no matter what, Zoffa and I will be spending more time together, and taking longer walks despite inclement weather!
What are your stories of special pets in your life?
Have one of your pets been diagnosed with a type of cancer? If so, what treatment, if any, did you choose?