Delaying the inevitable?

Rodney small res
Stephanie Chapman Photography

A few days ago my little dog had surgery to remove the tumour from his neck.  We went this route because a scan and a couple of biopsies revealed that the cancer was contained; our very skilled vet Tim thought it well worth a shot.  Poor Rodney looks as though a pirate has attacked him with a cutlass – now he’s sore, itchy, sleepy and confused.  And quite possibly cancer-free.

Last night was a sleepless one as I watched him pace, keen, and scratch in great discomfort.  It was hard to bear.

Today, after a steroid shot and a teensy dose of diazepam, he’s comfy and I am relieved.  But at some point, the big hill will rise up to meet us and the buck stops with me.  Please god, let me be strong enough to put Rodney first when the time is right.  Because sometimes, actions speak louder than words.

My boy is sick

As a child-free woman I have invested fourteen years of love and nurturing into my dog, Rodney. It’s a common enough story, for while we love those who care for us, we love even more those we care for. In that regard, dogs are like small children, utterly helpless, needing constant love and attention in order to thrive.

I’ve loved my boy with a slavish devotion since I rescued him from a wonderful dog’s home in 2002; by my reckoning, he’s at least 16 years old now.

We have travelled a long (and often treacherous) road together. Men, friends, jobs and houses come and go, but the stinky little scrap of fur I call my best friend remains constant. We would die for each other, simple as that.

A few weeks ago, I learned that my dog has cancer. There was an inevitability about it – it’s what most of us, humans and canines alike, die of. He has a tumour that may, or may not be operable. Our wonderful and very dedicated vet is currently researching the pros and cons of disturbing the mass.

So now I am bracing myself for the worst – and hoping for the best. At 16 years old, it may be kinder to let nature take its course. Rodney’s comfort and quality of life must come before my own. That is a mark of true love; loving someone enough to let them go.

I’ve tried to think positively about life after Rodney; the freedom – can’t remember the last time we flew to the sun for a week; the spontaneity – being able to do dinner and a movie back to back, without a serious contingency plan; a clean and fragrant home – these days, if I walk into a room that doesn’t smell of dog-guff, I think I am in the wrong house.

But these hygiene factors are no consolation whatsoever – and I make no apology for any sentimentality that may creep into my words on the subject of my beloved Jack Russell Terrier.

Whatever time we have left together is precious and irreplaceable. But as I keep telling myself, I survived the loss of my wonderful parents…and I will survive losing Rodney, too. Here’s hoping it’s not for a while yet.