The groomer showed me an odd rectangular lump on JoJo’s belly. I had brushed her thoroughly a couple days before and never saw that. So I called the vet and took her in and he told me it was a mammary gland cancer, and also that the cancer had already spread to a lymph node.

Now, JoJo is 13 years old and has a collapsing trachea plus she gets bronchitis every winter. I felt it would be wise to just let her go, to let the cancer take her rather than put her through surgery with no guarantee that the cancer hadn’t already spread. But I had a big problem - I loved her. She was my buddy. She was who came to the door when I came home, waiting for kisses. She was with me when I was lonely. Was it even remotely possible that I could watch her die slowly right here in my house? Putting her to sleep wasn’t an option – she enjoyed life too much. She was a happy girl. Did I have the right to take away any time she had left?

You would not think that a dog could cause the anxiety and distress I went through last weekend. My head ached. My feet hurt. I couldn’t relax, and I had to take a break from FOX News as I couldn’t bear to hear anything worrisome. I talked to my family, my friends, and everybody said they would support me if I decided to stand by and watch her die, although not one of them agreed with me.

Monday morning I called the vet and told him my decision. He told me that he was disappointed but, since I was the owner, he would go along with it and monitor her and tell me when it was time to put her down. I hung up and felt better, the decision was made! But JoJo seemed mad at me, she wouldn’t look at me and when I spoke to her she turned her tail to me. I know it’s not possible that a mere dog could understand what I had said to the vet, but here we were, not speaking. Anxiety overwhelmed me again, I knew what she wanted me to do, so by late afternoon I called the vet again and we set up her surgery for Thursday. Afterwards JoJo sat by me and rubbed her head on my arm and all was well between us.

Today she is home and happy, even though she is a mass of stitches and is on pain meds and sleeps a lot and coughs from the tube she had in her throat during the surgery. She smiles at me. She tries to eat to please me. We hugged when we woke up. Neither of us knows whether the cancer has spread, but neither of us cares that much, because we are together and I did what she wanted me to do and maybe, just maybe, she has a year or two of life ahead of her.

© 2013 Just Lynne - 7/14/13

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