This week brought a new trial to the Miller household. Our black Labrador, Bear, who has been completely healthy for thirteen years, started bleeding from her paws. I originally thought she had broken off her claws and wrapped them up, thinking they would heal on their own. When the bleeding failed to improve, I brought her in to a veterinarian. I was in for a big shock.
Bear hasn’t left home in years, and she was shaking from the time I carried her out to the car to the time I lifted her onto the table.
I started by apologizing that she hadn’t been bathed recently; I hadn’t wanted to aggravate the bleeding and she has been spending her days outside. I also felt the need to explain why her claws hadn’t been trimmed recently. The assistant was very understanding. Again I felt apologetic as I removed her bandaging and she started bleeding all over the table.
“She has tumors in her paws,” the lady vet with the kind eyes told me.
My mind flashed back to my childhood dog, Alamo, a lively golden retriever whose life ended at the age of fourteen after we found tumors on her head. It was the first time I ever saw my dad cry; the second time was when his own father died.
Was she going to tell me to put her down? My eyes filled with tears.
I saw the doctor’s nose redden in response to my own show of emotion. “We can try an antibiotic for ten days,” she explained, “After that the only option would be surgery, which I wouldn’t suggest for a dog her age. Please call me by the end of the week and tell me how she is doing.”
I went home crying. I had to tell the kids what was going on with their beloved pet. As the days go on, they watch as I change her bandages. She doesn’t want to get up, so they have been bringing her food and water. She stopped eating hard dog food, so we bought her canned food. She even turns away from that now, and I have to force her to eat her pills, wrapped within deli meats. It feels odd now that I don’t have to watch the table to make sure she doesn’t jump up and eat my husband’s dinner.
Four days into the ten days of antibiotics prescribed, I wonder if she will improve; if she will pass peacefully; or if I will have to make a decision to euthanize my loyal friend.