About 18 months ago, we took Darby into the vet to have some shady looking bumps checked out.
It's been a very long 18 months since then. It was discovered that the bumps were mast cell tumors, a cancerous type of tumor that occurs in dogs. The prognosis was hopeful - we decided the best course of action would be to surgically remove the bumps as they appeared and treat it with an oral steroid. As long as the tumor was completely removed, she should be just fine, well at least for a while.
Darby just turned 4 in March. She is too young to have this disease. If it's common, it occurs in dogs 8 or 9 or even older. She's had multiple surgeries in the last 18 months...4, maybe 5....and the recovery is a pain in the ass. She's chewed her stitches out, she's puked all over, she's had diarrhea explosions all over the plush carpeting. It's hard to tell how she's actually feeling considering the big change that also occurred in the last 18 months - a new little human living in the house. So does she keep to herself more because she feels crappy or because she's sick of Charlotte jacking her swagger?
Today I brought Darby back to the vet to have a few more tumors removed. I was hoping to have an opportunity to talk with the vet (a very well respected dr. who has been practicing for a long time) just to see if we're still doing the right thing. He ended up calling me in the middle of surgery saying he didn't want to proceed based on the location of one of the tumors. He also told me no more surgeries for Darby.
And also said "I don't know what we should do anymore."
I asked him "What are you saying...specifically?"
My eyes began to fill up with tears as I tried to hold it together while I was on the phone.
He asked me if I thought Darby was happy.
I couldn't answer confidently. I know Marcus would say of course she's happy, but I'm not as convinced. But overall yes, I do think she's happy. She's a good dog, a staple in our home. She does not appear to be in pain. She's not moping around 100% of the time, and gets super excited to go out and play.
I asked him if he was suggesting we put Darby to sleep.
He responded by saying not if we feel like she still is enjoying life.
We love this dog so very much. We anticipated her arrival for nearly a YEAR after doing so much research and chose a wonderful breeder. We brought her to puppy school, took her lure coursing, and brought her everywhere with us. She's been a constant companion and the best cuddle buddy around.
Darby is staying overnight at the vet just for observation and we'll talk in person with the vet tomorrow. She's going to go home with us tomorrow. And we're going to love her and continue to spoil her until we know it's her time to go.
We recognize we've had our challenges with this hound. Many headaches were had, tears were shed, and bottles of carpet cleaner were sprayed.
Today, before I even talked with the vet, I was cleaning the floors and vacuuming the couch. And the thought actually crept into my mind - what if this is the last time I'm mopping up dog paw marks or vacuuming up short red fur off our new couch?
I know it won't be, because she's coming home tomorrow. And she will let Charlotte poke at her face and crawl all over her before she darts off into the other room. She will wait patiently for Charlotte to throw her leftovers on the floor. She will nudge our covers and whine to us to let her under. She will wake up way too early. She will sleep all day. Her ears will perk up when she hears the jingle of her leash when it's time to go for a w-a-l-k. And life will continue as normal until it's time to make the next decision, whatever that might be.