Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Personal Note

The Chrontendo Blog is rarely updated nowadays. I think most people check Twitter or Youtube for updates instead. It's been a difficult week for me. We lost our dog Molly on Saturday, and I felt the need to say more about it than I could in a series of Tweets.

Molly was not a young dog; she was 13. However, the suddenness of her passing was shocking. Prior to last weekend she appeared to be in excellent shape. The Friday before last we noticed her walking a little stiffly and acting lethargic. We also found a swelling in her ear, which concerned us. I thought she may have been bitten by a spider or was suffering from an infection. We took her to the vet on Sunday, where we learned the swelling in the ear was not serious or uncommon by itself. However the doctor wanted to run some blood tests to find out what was causing her lack of energy.

On Tuesday we got the results of the blood tests, which showed Molly had a low red blood cell count. The doctor suggested that an ultrasound be done to look for abnormalities in her organs. I took her in for the ultrasound on Wednesday, and at this point, I was not terribly worried. I'd had anemia myself at one point and it just required me to take iron supplements.

Wednesday afternoon the doctor called me back with bad news. Molly's ultrasound showed cancerous tumors on her liver and spleen. The low red cell count was due to internal blood loss. There was nothing that could be done to save her. I asked the vet how much time she had, and he replied that she might not even last through the night. Probably a week at most. Molly seemed tired but comfortable on Thursday and Friday. By Saturday, she was showing signs of distress, so we took her into the vet to be put to sleep.  Again -- the thing that shocked us the most was how sudden this all happened. Molly hadn't been displaying any signs of bad health and was in remarkably good shape for her age.  She was stronger and more energetic than our other dog, Gigi, who is also 13, and we always assumed that Molly would outlive Gigi. I am still having difficulty processing the fact that Molly is no longer with us.

Her death hit both of us pretty hard. This was the first time in our adult lives that either of us had to deal with the loss of a dog. We got Gigi a few years after we bought our house and Molly followed a little later. After all these years of having Molly here with us, it's hard to wake up and realize she's no longer with us. We've had pet cats die since we've been living together, and while I don't mean to diminish the loss cat owners feel, having a dog die was much more difficult.

Molly really was one of the greatest dogs I have ever known. She almost certainly saved two people's lives. My mother found her in an animal shelter, two days before she was scheduled to be killed. She was around 6 months old and appeared to have been abused. She was terrified of me at first; in fact she was terrified of any man. If I approached her with my hand in the air, she would cringe. It required a lot of work and patience, but eventually Molly became a fearless, devoted and loving dog. She was incredibly protective. I don't doubt for a minute that would have given her life to protect me or my wife from harm.

My mother would not be alive today if weren't for Molly. Around a decade ago, Molly began sniffing at my mother's chest obsessively and making whimpering or growling noises. She did this consistently until my mother got concerned and went to her doctor for a checkup. Testing revealed she had stage 4 breast cancer. The cancer had spread enough that my mother's doctor didn't give her good odds of surviving.  She made it through surgery and chemotherapy, but if she had found out about the cancer later, it would have been too late. Incredibly, Molly detected breast cancer in another woman a couple years later, who, again, was able to get treatment in time.

I worry a lot about Gigi, and how she'll handle Molly no longer being here.  Gigi is pretty old herself and I know she misses Molly. There are times when she appears to be walking around the house looking for her. Sometimes I instinctively glance at a dog bed to see if Molly is lying down in it. I've gotten so accustomed to seeing her every day it's hard to accept she's gone. She gave so much of herself to us, I feel like I've betrayed her by not being able to save her. I know we'll eventually accept Molly's death, but for the moment, we are missing her greatly.

My apologies for this depressing post, and thanks for hearing me out.  I'll update the blog again shortly when Chrontendo Episode 51 is ready, which should be in the near future.