During the week that I was at CAST in Grand Rapids, there were many changes in my personal life that occurred, and that I am having to process and work through now. this is not going to be about testing per se, but if I don’t find a place to get this out, it’s going to eat away at me, so I’m going to do it here. I’m also likely to get emotional here. I’ve commented that sometimes, we need to have navel gazing posts on our blogs from time to time, and this is one of those days.
Nine years ago, shortly after my son’s tenth birthday, we decided it was time to have a pet join our family. My wife and I had kept animals like fish and birds for our entire marriage, but we hadn’t had a dog or a cat, partly because we wanted our children to be old enough to appreciate them and interact properly with them. Our neighbors across the street had several Welsh Pembroke corgis, and of course my kids adored them. When it came time to have a dog, we knew they’d want a corgi, so we asked our neighbor who we might talk to. She told us of a corgi faire that was happening down in Los Gatos, CA, and that several breeders would be there showing their dogs. As we went and talked with people, we met a lady that had brought several dogs to show, including one that she felt wasn’t really into the whole “dog show” thing. She believed this particular dog would benefit from being part of a family. Our kids met the dog in question, a sweet fawn colored girl that was a little over a year old, and they fell in love with her. We decided to take her home. My son at the time was playing Final Fantasy X and thought her coloring and her antics reminded him of one of the characters from that game, so he named her “Rikku”.
About two months ago, we noticed that Rikku was moving more slowly, seemed to be breathing heavier, and was generally listless and not her usual self. as we were petting and scratching her, we noticed that around her neck and her hip joints, she had swelling and big bumps. We had the vet take a look at her, and our worst fears were realized. She had stage four lymphoma, i.e. cancer of the lymph nodes. we enquired about treatment options, but soon realized that her condition was terminal. It could be a year at the furthest, several weeks at the shortest. They gave us some medicine that they said could help her feel better in the short term, i.e. a cortico-steroid, but that it wasn’t a cure. It would just be a matter of time before the cancer progressed further.
For several weeks, we gave her the steroid drug, and for a time she rallied. Her lymph nodes shrank considerably, and she was, in many ways, her old self. She was playful, happy, went with us to her favorite places, and interacted with us as she always had. Unfortunately, last week, the slow movements and heavy breathing came back again, and when we checked, her lymph nodes were even more swollen than before. I had to leave for Grand Rapids, but I asked the family to keep me informed as to her condition. By Monday, August 3, her mouth was gaping open at the sides. She couldn’t close her mouth, her breathing had become ragged and harsh, and she wasn’t walking well. She didn’t look like herself, she didn’t act like herself, and I was told that they felt that the time had come, and that we needed to have her put to sleep. They felt horrible that I wasn’t there, but they felt waiting until I came back was going to prolong the inevitable and force her to deal with several more days of pain. I told them that they did not need to wait for me, that I understood what needed to be done, and that at this time, Rikku needed us to say goodbye and let her suffering end. My wife and elder daughter brought her into our veterinarians office on Tuesday, August 4, and they said their last goodbyes to our little girl.