Head cheese…

Zane deteriorated a bit yesterday, so Bill took him to the emergency vet. Earlier in the day, he tried to make an appointment with their oncology department, but nothing is open until September 20th. He made the appointment, but I don’t think Zane will still be with us at that time. This disease is moving very quickly. Two days ago, he looked more or less normal. But by yesterday afternoon, his lymph nodes had swollen to the point at which he could barely open his eyes. He spent most of the day lying on his side, not seeming to be in pain, but just very exhausted. Still, when Bill got home, he managed to come downstairs to greet him.

The emergency vet aspirated Zane’s lymph nodes and showed Bill the cancer, which at this point, he really didn’t need to do. It looks like he’s at least stage four. We aren’t looking for any miracles. We just want him to be comfortable for whatever time he has left. So the vet gave Zane a shot of prednisone, and by the time dinner was ready, he was loudly begging for chicken after not having really eaten all day.

He could barely open his eyes last night, but he still begged for chicken. The vet thinks it’s because of his swollen lymph nodes. Hopefully, the prednisone will give him some temporary relief.

Then this morning, he didn’t want his usual homemade chicken food (which he normally likes), but when Bill opened up a can of German head cheese, he was all over it. He got his prednisone in the head cheese this morning.

I don’t like to give dogs prednisone, because there are nasty side effects. It makes them very hungry and thirsty and they have to pee incessantly. The nice thing about our current house is that we have a fenced yard, so Zane can go out at will. When our last dog, MacGregor, was sick and on prednisone in 2012, we had to take him outside on a leash. Actually, we had to carry him, because he couldn’t walk very well. Zane is still mobile. He’s just very, very lethargic.

I think we’ll probably say goodbye to him in a few days. It will shatter my heart. Seeing him like this breaks my heart. He’s an absolute angel of a dog– the sweetest, gentlest, friendliest, and most loving dog ever. We named him after Zane Lamprey, the comedian, because he has sort of a wiseacre personality. But besides being comical, Zane is also just a lovely creature. I would love to have his personality. He always tries to be good, even when he “punks” Arran to get him out of his favorite napping spots. He never causes trouble, or, at least he never did once he got past the destructive puppy phase. And he’s just a delightful dog. I am really going to miss him with all of my heart.

Just two days ago, Zane took a walk around the neighborhood and rolled in a field. He was eating well until Saturday. It’s astonishing to see cancer go to town like this, although in some ways, I think the speed is a kindness. Our two dogs prior to Zane both had cancer and it took longer and was a lot more painful for both of them.

Flea, Zane’s predecessor, had prostate cancer that took his life four months after diagnosis. It was pretty awful to watch the destruction at the end, although Flea was a real fighter. He hadn’t wanted to die, even when it was clear that it was best. MacGregor didn’t fight death, but his cancer was excruciating because it was a very aggressive spinal tumor that was invading his spinal column. It took an MRI to discover it, and it was nasty.

I have yet to hear Zane yelp in pain, the way I did with both Flea and MacGregor. He just sleeps and occasionally goes out to pee. Yesterday, he made his way around the house in different corners, finally venturing out to the backyard and its sunshine. As cancer deaths go, this doesn’t seem too bad. We won’t let it get much worse. I will not keep him alive for myself. I’m grateful that he’s been able to eat, sleep, and exercise up until the bitter end. I’m happy that I can still pet him, kiss him, and love on him without causing him extreme pain. With both Flea and MacGregor, we were denied that comfort at the end.

So… we’ll see what the prednisone does. I don’t expect much from it. If it perks him up for a few days, that’s a good thing. But if it doesn’t help, we’re prepared to let him go to the Rainbow Bridge, where he can see his old friend/bagel daddy MacGregor. I know the Rainbow Bridge is a figment of imagination, but it comforts me to imagine it… and every single dog I’ve lost has communicated to me in dreams to let me know they’re okay. Maybe it’s just my mind protecting me, but it makes me feel better. And when we’re ready, there will be room for another dog who needs a home.