I'm not a dog person. I think that is clear from previous posts. But yesterday we learned that one of our dogs, Toby, has cancer. That changes everything.
Our dogs have been coddled and spoiled by my husband and my kids. I have not engaged in this activity as I cannot separate my feelings for the dogs from my feelings about the pee stains on the carpet or the frayed edges of the furniture they have nibbled. But seen through the light of the real possibility of loss, and I am filled with compassion for this little dog.
Several weeks ago, I opened the kitchen door to the dogs and they came running in. Having failed to put up the gate that separates the approved dog area from the non-approved, Toby darted back into the bedrooms (where he has been known to relieve himself) and I went screaming and chasing after him. As ran toward the the bedroom, Toby came running back and the two of us crashed into each other at the point where the hallway turns a corner. My foot hit his little mouth and he yelped a bit and there was some blood. I picked him up and took a look - it didn't seem too bad but I cleaned him up and held a compress to him and petted him for a while. I felt badly. I wanted him out of the back of the house but I certainly didn't mean to hurt him.
A couple of weeks later I noticed that he had what appeared to be an abscess in the spot where we hit. His gum was swollen and his mouth didn't completely close over it. In an attempt to get around expensive vet bills, we treated it with hydrogen peroxide and thought it was getting better but ultimately, the girls convinced us that he needed to be seen.
We took Toby in earlier this week and learned that the trouble in his mouth had nothing at all to do with my unfortunate run-in with him. The trouble was, Toby had a tumor. Surgery was scheduled for yesterday.
Bob took the girls with him to pick Toby up and learned at that time that the cancer had gone clear to the jaw bone and in fact, there was no bone. A biopsy is being done and we will see which of three different types of cancer he has. At best, he will need a specialist who will remove a portion of his jaw. At worst, he hasn't got much time. Grief has begun.
Toby is 8 years old. He is a bishon. We got him as a 5 week old puppy. He was flown in from a breeder in Florida and we presented him to the girls on Christmas morning, a gift from their grandfather. He is a spoiled baby. He has been destructive. He thinks he is a person. But he is a good dog as far as dogs go. If you ask him to smile, he shows his teeth, especially if he thinks it will get him some attention. And as I give him the very least attention, if he is desperate for it he will eventually come to me. He will put his paws on my lap and he will smile. Without me asking. And I guess I sort of like him. And I really hope he doesn't die.