The Good, the Bad and the Unknown

22 Aug

First, let’s start with the good. Actually, the really good.

Jasper had a wonderful week! If it wasn’t for the lump on his side, you wouldn’t even know that he was sick. He was jumping on the bed, running to the door with a tennis ball in his mouth each time I got home and playing and swimming in the river with no sign of pain. What a change from last week! I can’t tell you how great this makes me feel.

Other than tweaking his pain meds, we really didn’t change anything else this past week.

He even felt strong enough for another 3+ mile hike in Afton State Park on Saturday. Like I said, it’s been a good few days.

J and T chillin'
Photo: J and Todd chilling out on the couch after a day of hiking

The other nice thing that happened is that we got our first look at the photos we recently took with the extremely talented Sarah of Sarah Beth Photography fame. Her photos are truly magical.

I’m sure when I’m old and grey and enjoying my last days on this planet, one of the photos she took will be sitting by my bedside. Thank you, Sarah!

Now for the bad.

We had another heart-to-heart with the veterinary oncologist this past week. We’re almost certain that Jasper’s latest – and likely last – chemo drug isn’t slowing the tumor’s growth. At this point I’m starting to think that this is some sort of super-mutant cancer. We’ve tried everything we could to slow it down, but to no avail.

During the visit, our vet said something that really stuck with me. He said, “Dogs have mastered the art of living in the moment. They aren’t waiting for the next birthday or Christmas. They only care about what they’re doing right now… and how they feel at that moment.”

This was part of his response to our question about how we’ll know when it’s time to say good-bye.

So, where does that leave us?

For starters, we’ve begun to accept the situation. All we can do now is manage the cancer with pain meds. J is on pretty low dose medication at the moment and he had a great week, so at least we have that on our side. I feel strangely positive tonight given the gravity of our situation. I’m sure all that could change in the coming days and weeks, though.

Veronika and I have also started making plans for the end. We have the name of a vet who does at-home euthanasia. We have the number for a place that handles pet cremation. We’re getting things lined up now because we both know that when the time comes to let go we just won’t be thinking straight.

Which brings me to the unknown.

We still don’t know for certain how this will play out or how much time we have left.

Today was a beautiful day, though, and J had a joyous time running and swimming in the Mississippi River dog park. I’m happy and thankful for that tonight.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but while he’s still here I’m going to walk over and give him a good-night hug.

Sweet dreams, buddy.

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7 Responses to “The Good, the Bad and the Unknown”

  1. Phil & Lucky August 24, 2010 at 9:45 PM #

    3 miles? Amazing. Jasper-Roo sure is an inspiration, and it seems very clear that he has a great ‘pack’ in his corner too, always giving 100%. Thank you for sharing this journey, this update, and your doctors comment. So true and insightful.

  2. Jeff & Dale August 25, 2010 at 9:42 AM #

    Thanks for continuing to write your thoughts even as they become more and more difficult to communicate.

    We recently said goodbye to our 13+ year old husky “Rio” (whom Sarabeth did a joy session for recently too). Though in her case the cancer was just the final event in a long process of aging and slowing down, your recent posts about the moment of realizing “this is it” definitely bring back the tears a bit.

    We had barely a week between diagnosis (she had a cough we couldn’t explain) and our final goodbyes, and no one had expected things to deteriorate so quickly. In some ways we had been saying slow goodbyes since April when she started to decline more rapidly, but we were lucky enough to have gotten her out for a good hike on her final weekend as well.

    Keep living your remaining days to their fullest. Ultimately that will mean the most to all of you in the end. Our thoughts are with you all.

    • treubold August 25, 2010 at 11:28 PM #

      Thank you so much. Your story was really touching and gives us strength for what’s yet to come. Appreciate the kind words. Thanks!

  3. Shauna (Fido & Wino | R.O.A.R. Squad) August 25, 2010 at 12:53 PM #

    I am so very glad you’ve had such a great week. When I was losing a dear (human) friend of mine my dogs were a great comfort. Their ability to be so in the moment, just like your vet said, was a comforting reminder that really, for all of us regardless of our situation, Now is really really all we have.

    We all need to remember to celebrate Now more. It sounds like your family is really doing that.

    Hugs to you.

  4. melfr99 August 30, 2010 at 10:19 PM #

    Thank heaven’s for good weeks. I can relate to celebrating those special days, weeks and minutes with my dog Aspen. As Shauna said (and said it s well): Now is really really all we have. I so agree.

    My memories of Aspen are filled with happy smiles and tail wags at the Dakota Woods Dog Park in Rosemount. She never had the chance to enjoy Minnehaha like Jasper does now, but I know she would have loved it.

    I pray you get many, many more days and moments like this past week.

  5. Elizabeth September 14, 2010 at 10:50 PM #

    I absolutely loved the photos!! They are amazing!

    I love reading your blog it makes me cherish the time I have with my baby. And I loved the comment that your doctor said about dogs living in the moment, its so true.

    It seems like every time I read this blog, I smile then almost cry. It is a rollercoaster of emotions for me as a reader, so I can only imagine what its like for you.

    I just wanted to thank you for sharing J’s journey. Give him a nice belly rub from us readers! 🙂

    • treubold September 15, 2010 at 8:36 AM #

      Thanks, Elizabeth! It certainly is a roller coaster for us, too. 🙂

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