Pet Cancer: A Tribute to Blizzard

I should probably issue a tissue warning as I’m sure this article may bring tears to many eyes. My eyes are filling up just thinking about starting to write this. I am not a medical professional, so I would never try to give advice as an expert. This is written from my own personal experiences over the years with some of the dogs I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my life with.

Our pets can get many of the same diseases as humans. The veterinarians on this blog can attest to that. They can get diabetes, epilepsy, arthritis, allergies and that evil “C” word, cancer. I have had dogs over the years that have been diagnosed with a couple of these mean, nasty things and have had dogs that have had seizures. Even though an episode of this can be scary, at least most dogs can be treated with medication so that they can live a normal life.

Unfortunately, I have also had a couple of dogs that have had cancer. The symptoms of many cancers never show until it’s too late for any treatment to help. Some dogs are really good at hiding their symptoms from you, too.

The most recent experience was with our sweet Elkhound, Blizzard. We had taken her and her sister, Bo, in for their annual checkups in the spring. They both were given clean bills of health and both appeared to be healthy and active. We never expected that a few months later we would wake up with Blizzard’s eye swollen and have no idea what was causing it. We put some cold compresses on it to get some of the swelling down, but it still didn’t look right. That sent us to our vet’s office to have it checked out. It turned out that there was a tumor IN her eye. Even though the vet who saw her is an expert in canine eyes, he didn’t believe it needed anything drastic done right away. He figured that she may eventually need the eye removed.

Of course, our vet also checked her over. He listened to her lungs and they still sounded great. He just had a weird feeling that a chest x-ray should be done. That x-ray showed her lungs were actually filled will lots of small tumors. They did an ultrasound, but couldn’t determine where the original tumor started that was feeding these. He gave us some medications so that she would not experience severe pain. Her eating and appetite decreased, so we let her have anything we could convince her to eat. We were determined to spoil her and make her time as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Soft peanut-flavored treats seemed to be the only thing that appealed to her. (Except for the night I had a double burger from a fast food restaurant and she was willing to eat one of the patties for me!)

Each dog has had their own personality and things that are their very own traits. Blizzard lived up to her name since she loved playing in the snow more than any other dog we’ve had so far. She also loved to sing. She would point her nose toward the ceiling on cue and sing some of the most beautiful “woo-woos.” On the ride to our vet’s office, my daughter drove, husband held Blizzard in the passenger seat and I sat behind them in the backseat. Blizzard decided that she needed to sing for us one last time.

A few weeks later, we celebrated Bo’s 12th birthday — the first one without her sister. It’s been very hard. I never realized that it would be harder with each one as they leave us. I believe that they will own a piece of our heart forever. It’s because we make them family members and love them so very much. We can beat ourselves up thinking that there has to be something we should have noticed. There should have been some signs we missed. The fact is that many times there are no signs.

DSC_0518Recently in my area, there was a walk for canine cancer called Puppy Up! It was an event to raise funds and awareness of the common links between canine and human cancers. My daughter heard about it and, along with my best friend, the three of us took our dogs to support the cause by walking in Blizzard’s name. Pictured to the right is Team Blizzard: Bailey, Mya and Shelby.

By the way, Bo is doing well. She is still going on pet therapy visits and has started playing with Bailey and Shelby. It gets rather noisy, but it’s wonderful to see them all playing and having fun together.

Rest in peace dear Blizzard! We’ll meet again someday at the Rainbow Bridge! We will always love you!

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