I have spoken to my partner, kids, mum, friends and a couple of people at work about the best thing to do and no-one has yet come up with a good reason to put him through surgery or chemotherapy. There just isn’t enough certainty that they will do any good, and the down-side for Ash is significant.

The worst thing about surgery would be if they began the operation and realised they had to take a much larger area than anticipated, potentially removing his front leg at the shoulder. I just can’t imagine expecting a 12 year old dog to learn to walk again, and potentially only for the remaining 8-12 months of his life. To me, that feels cruel and selfish. Younger dogs can bounce back after amputations and can run again after a matter of months, but Ash is finding it hard to run now with four legs, let alone three.

Loopy turns

Labradors have a fantastic freedom about them when they run; carefree, gangly, uncoordinated, often with a large stick or small tree trunk balancing in their mouth. If the tree trunk / branch is held perfectly in the middle and he gains good speed, Ash inevitably meets two trees that stop him in his tracks, reverberating through his body as he lets go of the branch and reassembles himself.

He has few loopy turns nowadays. They used to be prompted by the sudden chill of a river or the discovery of an enormous stick / branch to run with. Splashing out of the river and shaking dry beside me he would throw himself down in the leaves & dust and roll around, back and forth, making sure they ground in properly. I would send him into the river again to clean off, out he would come again. shake beside me and back down into the leaves and dust to roll back & forth, round and round. This would go on for a few cycles until I sent him back into the river while I ran away from the dust and leaves back onto the path, calling him to follow me without rolling around again. Sometimes it would work.

Lady Kathleen

She crossed a wide ocean, during war times, in danger
A life of adventure, of courage, of fear
Yet, nothing reveals the hint of the years
that have chiseled her wrinkles, but not dampened her cheer

She pours me some tea, we relax in the shade
Cool on the porch of a summertime day
Honeysuckle vines circle the posts,
Spider-webs glisten, hosts offer a toast.
She chatters nonchalantly, so glib on the tongue,
Of a war and the journey that left her alone
To her, all these stories, are quite ordinary,
I cling to each word, but she’s here to assure me
A true-life adventure.

Inside the house, the counter is a clutter, piled high with dishes
The old floor is sticky, and dog hair floats in prisms of light
One old hound sleeps in the middle of the worn kitchen rug.
Another lame Labrador laps water from a pie tin,
dripping water from his sloppy face across the peeling checkered floor.

Throughout the house, a lingering musky smell of well loved pets,
and a stale, smoky odor of burnt toast from her attempt at breakfast.
Servants, cooks, gardeners, part of a long ago past.
The house is filled with dust covered, belongings
History fills each corner to mingle, along with the dust motes that linger in air

Junk mail, newspapers, dog treats, documents and clippings
prized antiques and artifacts, ……just facts of life, from how she sees them

On every shelf, and on the walls, are sepia-hued photographs
Famous faces I have seen, on the news, and on the screen

A handsome young man, and she was his bride
A commander when the world took sides
She followed him to the ends of the earth.
And soon will gladly follow him to the grave

I sit here now,…with this woman of many lives.
Like one of the flowers on her porch, she wears a tattered, splattered dress.
Today, she is a homespun, country widow.
An extraordinary woman, this grand Duchess,
yet now who bears traits of Ma Kettle
She brought class, dignity, and a wealth of knowledge
to our small country neighborhood,……. to my life.
Here we are, together, so far from the world she once knew.
We sit in the shade of her covered porch
A long haired, grey cat jumps into her lap.
Under the veil of a summer day
I pour her another cup of tea, and a little more for myself.
Tea is served, flavored with lemon….I have much more to drink in…..to savor

Lady Kathleen by Carrie Richards

I phone the vet to tell him we would like to continue with the steroids and anti-histamine treatment. He sounds slightly disappointed. The disappointment may come from the teaching hospital environment. They are at the forefront of veterinary medicine and technology, boasting about their oncology service on the large screen in the waiting area. Ash’s MCT is not straightforward, so he’s bound to be an interesting teaching case, and the surgery would be something new with the unusual tumour presentation. He then says it’s an understandable decision and it will allow Ash to carry on without having to worry about surgery or chemotherapy, and we can always review things to see how he is getting on at a later date. He says he will write a new prescription for me to collect tomorrow after work and I should make an appointment for a review in a month.

I collect the prescription and he tells me that he should have 2 x prednisolone with food daily, 6 piriton and 3 zantac. He says it’s a good thing that they have had a positive effect on the tumours but he says this may not last. We can look at increasing the dose if we find the tumours growing again, but we can’t do this forever.

Later in the evening I sit beside him and stroke his fur, all the time feeling for new lumps. He’s not panting so much tonight but seems restless, lying down for 10 minutes at a time then standing or sitting beside me as I write, trying to tell me something. It’s probably “can I have some cheese?”

Laid back in Sallachy
Chilled in Sallachy