It was June 8, 2012, just another Saturday at the Farmer’s Market. You were having fun in the ‘free’ doggy day-care while I shopped for flowers, fresh fruits and veggies. We left with high hopes for the rest of our day! And you jumped, like you had, a million times, into my car. And you missed. I will never forget the sound you made – the hysterical cry as you lay on the ground. I rushed to you and you nipped at me – the first time you had ever done that – and I knew you were seriously hurt and scared. It broke my heart. I got you into my backseat and snuggled you w/blankets as you went totally calm. I yelled at people who accused me of hurting you. They didn’t know us. They didn’t know our love story.
I drove like a bat out of hell to your vet. “Broken leg” was the immediate diagnosis. As upsetting as that was, I knew we could fix it. I just knew. I didn’t know what was yet to come. The week of up and downs, mis-diagnosises, the lack of bed-side manner, having to make decisions on the fly without all the facts, having your life and fate in my hands. Never have I been so scared. Never have I felt so alone.
I will never forget the horrible vet (not one ours) that announced in the waiting room with you in my arms that you had cancer and were going to die. Horrible bedside manner. And then to have him advise me to calm down as I hysterically sobbed. I wanted a second opinion. I got one. Same diagnosis. They ran some tests on you. They found a mass on your spleen but the biopsy said it was benign. The aspirate on your leg came back benign too. But everyone was convinced you had Osteosarcoma. I got a third opinion. Dr. Carey was kind and her nurse was so compassionate. She also thought bone cancer but there was no evidence. We decided to amputate. My friend found me this website. I posted my panic and the kind members reached out immediately for support.
Late Sunday night, the day before you were to become a tripawd, I got a call that changed everything. We could plate/fix the leg. The most extensive biopsy conducted showed NO signs of bone cancer. It was suspected a fungal infection. That was treatable. There was still the lump on your shoulder and the mass on your spleen but no cancer found. I breathed a sign of relief. They were going to take a huge chunk when you were under and there was still the chance we would have to amputate but for now, we were going to keep the leg. I made that choice. It was the best choice I could make with the information I had in front of me. I refuse to continue to ask myself if we had taken the leg then, would we have found the hemangiosarcoma earlier? I cannot continue to torment and beat myself up. You know I did everything with the utmost love and affection.
So you came home and the healing began. You gained mobility of that leg again pretty quickly. You did SO well. The vets were so impressed. The tests came back – not osteosarcoma. But also not a fungal infection. You were a medical mystery. The vet still maintained it was cancer but without a definitive diagnosis, I didn’t want to believe it. You still limped but I figured perhaps it was arthritis that had made you weaker. You were over 12 years old at the time. You had always been a jumped. It was inevitable that those joints much be tired. I put you on supplements. I changed your diet. You continued to get up on furniture, despite my telling you not to jump. You were always such a strong-willed little fighter.
We had an amazing summer – I was off work and we spent hours outside by the beach, in the grass, in the sunshine. We went to happy hour (a lot), went for coffee, spent all our days and nights together. It was wonderful. You were healing well and I thought we had dodged a huge bullet, only to find out in September, that you indeed had cancer.
So I will remain forever thankful for the wonderful memories of last summer. I will be grateful for being able to be with you and watch you recover and take care of you. I will continue to live in the moment and ‘be more dog’. I will vow, from today forward, to forgive myself for your breaking your leg. Perhaps that break was meant to be and it saved your life. It put us on notice. On watch for things yet to come. I know you are in my heart and you are guiding me daily.
Summer was always our special time. This summer will be different. But I have so many HAPPY photos and memories of the great fun that we had! Shelby we had such a wonderful life; could there be a luckier dog?!? I have to believe and I have to forgive myself, since I know you already have. I have to know that you know that I did every thing within my God-given financial power for you. I miss you, baby girl. I miss you so much. I knew I would be sad this weekend; I was prepared for it. And as I allow myself to shed some tears in remembrance, know that I am looking at our photos of our amazing together and my heart is truly filled with joy. We had the greatest love story – ever. You lived every moment to the fullest and I strive to be more like you now.
I am taking more risks, Shelby, I am letting people in again. I am opening my heart. And I am keeping your spirit and memory alive. Because while you have had your angel wings for two months (today) and it was a year ago we started this, I know that I continue to grow and gain strength. It’s not that I don’t miss you every single day – it’s that I know you are sending me healing love and energy to help with the pain. And most importantly, I am going to work on forgiving myself. You have. That much I do know. I love you, Shelby, to the moon and back and for all infinity.