What do you do after you get the call?

“I’m sorry to be telling you this, but Ziggy has cancer.”

Two days ago I got a phone call from my vet.  Ziggy has had a lot of vet appointments this year, the first round of which led to us finding out that she has chronic hepatitis.  I took her in for several more appointments after she developed a bloody nose and the bleeding didn’t stop for nearly a month.  Originally we thought the cause of the nose problem might be that she had inhaled a grass seed.  It wasn’t.

The cancer is not treatable, not really.  $8000 and a visit to Colorado would maybe buy us a year, but chemo comes with side effects, and what good is a year if it’s a miserable one?

Because of her current medication and because the vet’s examination actually dislodged some of the tissue that was blocking her nose, Zig hasn’t had bleeding problems for the past few days.  She is breathing better and is generally doing pretty well.  We go on walks and she is more or less her normal, happy self.  It’s likely to be a short interlude, the vet says.  We probably have a few months left with her.

The first day I heard the news I put on my sunglasses and kept them on, because the tears kept coming.  The second day after the news I kept the tears in check except for when I sent messages to my sister and to Zig’s foster mom, telling them the news.  On that second day my mom (who is in town because of my pregnancy) and I took Zig on a nice morning walk in the foothills.  Then we drove into town to meet J at our favorite bakery, and Zig shared part of a blueberry turnover with me and we sat together on a bench in the sun.  For a while, I was able to forget — almost.

Today I am doing okay.  Zig is doing okay.  I am still sad, sometimes overwhelmingly so, because eight years is still young for a dog.  Zig has been in my life for four of those years, and during that time she has been my little shadow almost everywhere I have gone.  We’ve gone camping together and she’s come to the office with me.  She is the reason for my daily walks, and as much as they have seemed like a chore at times, I have loved those walks — the small stretches of quiet sought in small patches of nature at the edges of town, the enthusiasm Zig has brought to every random patch of grass that has a new smell.  I had imagined having another four years with her.

It’s not time to mourn, not now.  It’s a confusing time, with the baby coming, because birth is a time for celebration, but I don’t feel much like celebrating, either.  All I can say is, this is life — this is how things work.  The good mixes in with the bad, and it’s my job to push through all the confusion and find what good I can in the small moments.  That’s all any of us can do.

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4 Responses to What do you do after you get the call?

  1. parkerkierce says:

    I can’t imagine life without my dog, that is horrible news. My heart goes out to your family ❤

  2. Oh, I am so sorry to hear! I lost a beloved animal friend on Christmas a few years ago and it is certainly a weird feeling to be celebrating and mourning. But you’re also right, it’s not time to mourn yet. Enjoy your last moments with Ziggy, and try to make her as comfortable as possible.

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