We adopted Earl from the SPCA near where we used to live in Pennsylvania. Hubby picked him. I had walked by him because of hubby’s dictate “Nothing with long hair”. But something in Earl’s eye’s (known at the SPCA as Benji) sparked hubby’s curiosity and he stopped to pet Earl. Once he was shown that immediate unconditional love from Earl, hubby was hooked and soon we were driving home with him trying to think of a name that was better than Benji.
Earl had lived in the wild for a bit if the condition of his coat and his pungent smell were any indicators. Vets soon gave us validation for our assumptions.
Earl had almost certainly been abused. His reaction to a straight-on head pet was to duck, but he came out of it after some time had passed. He realized that we were only there to pet him and cater to his needs.
And we did that for 9 years.
Over the last year he’d been having recurring ear infections, attributed to allergies. Sometimes the infection would spread to his skin. He had all of the other hallmarks of allergies, so we gave him an allergy pill each morning with a host of different things to squirt in his ears to keep things at a dull roar.
Three weeks ago his pill fell out of the treat. It happened sometimes and I did what I always did. I opened his mouth to toss that little pill in.
And he freaked out. In pain.
Distraught, I called the Vet and went right in. My worries of a bad tooth were put aside as the Vet felt swelling. But, then his ear started to bleed. A lot. Concerns of an abscess that had ruptured from the stress of opening his jaw got me a load of antibiotics and a steroid to take home for the weekend. Re-check Monday.
Re-check showed no difference. Referral to the Specialist Clinic for a CT Scan was ordered.
I knew then. Somewhere in the back of my head I knew that Earl’s doctor suspected a tumor.
We had to wait until Friday to see the Specialist Vet. They were so nice. I was escorted to a special waiting room for people who are going to be there all day.
The first update I received was that the ear had started pouring blood when they tried to take his temperature. So looking in the ear wasn’t an option. CT Scan it is.
My final update was the word I was dreading. Tumor. It was followed by “Lymph node Involvement”. “Cancer” I said knowing how bad it was that the lymph node was involved.
“We took samples, we’ll know more tomorrow”. I got bottles of pain pills and went home with my dog.
Saturday he wouldn’t eat. I went to the drugstore, obtained a syringe, crushed his pills, mixed with a little water and shot it into his mouth from between the teeth. Once, that dose kicked in he ate a little.
Hubby and I had a long talk. If it wasn’t cancer, it still needed an operation. As it is, we’ll be paying off the CT Scan for months. To think what the cost of the operation would be was completely daunting. And, Earl’s age factored in. We don’t know exactly how old he was, but he was at least 10.
Then the specialist called. And all of our “what can we do” talk went out the window.
In his ear and through the bone towards the jaw with lymph node involvement.
We don’t treat cancer. It’s a pledge we made long ago. Chemo and radiation effects dogs like it does humans, but they don’t understand. Also, the cancer often re-ocurrs once treatment is complete.
So, we bought him McDonald’s. Hubby fulfilled his normal actions when he gets McDonald’s at night and fed Earl french fries and burger pieces. I hid pain pills in chicken mcnuggets all day on Sunday at double the dose to make sure he was definitely comfortable.
At 9:00 am on Monday my baby went to the Rainbow Bridge to play with his brother Simon until hubby or I get there. It was humane, it was peaceful, it was kind. It was devastating.
Today I received a card from the vet. He wrote, in part, ‘Rest assured you did everything possible and that in the end your decision was both kind and correct’.
That card means so much. I’ve been second-guessing myself quite a lot. But, in my heart, I know that he hadn’t been acting like himself for a couple of weeks.
When I went to the Speciality Clinic I saw a poem that, somehow, I knew I would need soon.
I thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new
I thought about you yesterday and days before that too
I think of you in silence. I often speak your name.
Now all I have is memories, and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is my keepsake, with which I’ll never part
God has you in his keeping
I have you in my heart.