The facts are these:
1. After his surgery in March, to remove a large-ish cancerous mass from his back leg, the vet thought that we had bought Jake a good bit of time. He guessed it might be six months before the tumor grew back and in the meantime he'd have good quality of life.
2. About two weeks ago, we noticed the mass growing back. It seemed rather big for something that had been mostly removed a mere two months ago.
3. This weekend, Jake had a very difficult time sitting, walking and getting all the way down to the floor. By Monday, he could not or would not walk. He was not putting any weight on his leg and his leg was very, very swollen, particularly around one joint.
4. Tuesday, Chris took him to the vet. He had a 104 fever (normal is 100 - 102). The tumor had come back, quickly. The vet looked at him and said,
"Oh, man. I'm not sure I can fix him this time. I'm really sorry." Heart breaks into a frillion bits and pieces.
5. He also said that he'd never seen a sarcoma grow back that quickly. (And maybe there's some comfort in the idea that what is happening to your beloved pet is unusual and not normal, but when you draw the short stick it sucks because that's the reality you've just been handed. It's yours now, rare or not, and it's just as crappy as something common.)
6. The tumor was blocking the return blood flow in his leg and it was pooling and collecting. There was also another swollen mass that he thought was more blood collecting in his abdomen. He gave him a steroid shot and some pain killers and sent Chris home. They had The Talk about what to do if this did not make him "markedly better" in 24 hours.
7. He came home and told me and I cried.
It's just so hard, losing a pet that's been in your life this long. He's not even MY dog, he belongs to Chris. Chris got Jake when he was still in college and this dog has been with him through a lot. For me, Jake has always been a part of this awesome package deal of Chris + Jake that I lucked into. He's an amazing animal.
I am not sure what the next few days hold for Jake, but I'd be lying if I told you I thought he'd be with us next week. I think he's in pain and that his leg hurts. He can't or won't go outside to pee without a significant amount of encouragement. (But, he will go.) So not being able to walk is pretty bad for a dog, I know. I KNOW.
But, I am not sure that his whole body is in pain. You know, end-of-life pain. I have a hard time thinking that we'll have to, you know, put him to sleep or put him down or, my God, euthanize him (I hate that word and maybe it's because I hate the concept even more). Who am I to say that Jake has had enough? Who am I to deprive him of one more day of Milk Bones and loving pats, even if he's just laying on the floor all day? I wish he could tell me. What if he's in pain but not PAIN-PAIN? What if we made that decision too soon? What if we didn't make it soon enough and he suffered a great deal unnecessarily?
I can't decide if a long goodbye is better than a short goodbye. If knowing what's ahead is better than a surprise. They both probably suck and those are the kinds of things you tell yourself to temper the blow. It was better this way.
And then there is Claire. We told her that Jake was sick and had to go see the doggie doctor. Her face got sad and she asked if Jake needed his temperature taken. She said that sometimes she goes to see the Doctor and she gets medicine and she feels better. Jake get some medicine? Yes, honey. Jake will get some medicine.
We stopped short of telling her it would make him better.