Coping With Canine Cancer

Posted by Rebecca

A couple of weeks ago I found out Cassi has cancer.  I was suspicious because she had a yucky lump on her side that was red and oozy.  After seeing a vet, my suspicions were confirmed.  Cassi and I cried for a couple of days (actually I cried and she just stared at me wondering what was wrong).  It’s so hard to think about life without her.  But I also know she has had a good long life – she is 11 1/2, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks live an average of 10-12 years.  So I really have no room for complaints about her life span.

Each day is a little different.  She has a lot of scabs over her body, and a few more of the gross tumors have developed since the vet visit.  The worst one is on her neck, which is a real shame because she can no longer wear a collar, and can’t be taken on walks with a leash.  This has limited our outings.  She also has a droopy eyelid – something that is new in the last 2 weeks.  She looks silly, like her eyes are pointing in different directions.  I can’t help but giggle when she’s staring at me playfully with her tail wagging, and one eye looking straight at me, the other appearing to look at my feet.

The vet suggested I keep her in t-shirts to keep any bleeding or other stuff contained.  She’s also now sporting a fancy neckerchief, which I’m sure makes all the neighbors’ dogs jealous.  When I run out of clean neckerchiefs, I pop the cut-off sleeve of a t-shirt around her neck, and voila, a super-stylish fabric choker.

Yet despite all these weird physical changes that we are dealing with, she is happy, hungry, and energetic.  She prances around in her new outfits, which always makes me laugh.  And the best part is, she doesn’t even know she’s sick.  That’s a great thing about dogs – they don’t know what death is and they don’t fear it.  To Cassi, today is the same as yesterday and last year and 10 years ago.  As long as she gets cared for and loved, and lots of attention, she is a happy girl.

So I am trying my best to follow her example and be a happy girl.  There is no point dwelling on her illness, or worrying about what might happen to her tomorrow.  We will just enjoy today and our fancy new neckerchiefs.  🙂

Rebecca Knabe



21 thoughts on “Coping With Canine Cancer

  1. Hey Rebecca I know … cancer is taking a lot of great dogs and great friends. I myself have had cancer (survivor). There is a diet out there called “the tree of life” and it was gotten and given to a dear friend of mine who’s little Boston terrier got cancer and she made it 6 months with joy and playfulness right up to the end. A vet in Courtney BC is who they saw, if you want the details I can get them for you.
    Like you said, Cassie doesn’t know she is sick, they live in the now and this is the great thing about them. Can you maybe rig up a t-shirt harness or something soft so you both can still go on adventures together?
    Life is most certainly going to be different and sometimes it’s hard to be the “happy girl” when you know your time together is coming to an end. She most certainly has had a great life with you and I’m sure she has no complaints either 🙂 Enjoy your time together and live like there is no tomorrow.
    Having had cancer, boy, your whole life is just so turned upside down. It really made me realize what is important and not so.
    My dogs, Stan and Bea (Bostons) and Peeker and her brother Rocket (Chihuahua’s) are a huge part of my life and they were certainly a part of my recovery. Dogs are not my whole life but they make my life whole and I wouldn’t be without any one of them!! 🙂
    Big hugs to you and Cassie
    p.s. Enjoy your blog. I live in a double wide here in Victoria, BC Canada

    • Thanks, Sue. I’m glad you have survived this tragic disease. It is sad to see a sweet old dog get sick. But, yes, for now she is happy and enjoying her life. And I am too!
      My mom died of cancer when I was 15. It was horrible. And it certainly opens your eyes to what is important. The key is remembering what is important during the good times, and not just the bad.
      Thanks for reading! And I love Victoria. I grew up in Edmonton.

    • Oh and I am feeding Cassi some homeopathic concoction from the Hoxsey Clinic. My boyfriend ordered it for her, and after a few days of turning her nose up at it, she is finally eating it. We’ll see what happens.

  2. Oh no. Sorry. I learned a great deal too when our Rex died. He was diabetic and in his old age was deaf and later blind. He was on insulin shots for two years, and everyone kept telling asking us why dont we just put him to sleep! Rex still had a life. A good one. He was still happy going on his walks and snuggling by the fireplace. He made me realize we must take one day at a time. My Rex was a real trooper to the end. Miss him so. I know Cassi will be greatly missed. Nothing like a loyal true friend. One of my favorite lines has always been : “Don’t be sad it’s over, Be glad that it happened”. Enjoy eachother NOW.

    • Thanks, Irma. It’s amazing how attached we get to our furry family. She has been a joy for over 11 years, and it’s not over yet. As I type this, she is laying next to me, snoring and dreaming (and whimpering in her sleep). She is happy and as long as she’s not in pain, she will stay by my side.

  3. I’m so sorry to read this but admiring of your very good attitude. My wee dog was diagnosed with kidney failure and I cried several times a day for several days (maybe a couple of weeks) but then I realized that there is no hiding your tears from your dog, especially when you share a small space so I had to get a grip and live in the moment. It’s been a year now and we’re enjoying life. (Touch wood!) Had I known a year ago that I would enjoy these many months, and more, I would have saved my tears.

    When we are seniors, cancers are more common but they progress more slowly because all cell turnover happens more slowly.

    You have a wonderful attitude; she’s a lucky dog!

    • Thank you, Christina. You are very kind.
      That is good news about the slow progress because of her age. I haven’t heard that before.
      Cassi and I have had a good life together. I hope your pup continues to thrive. All we can do is give them as happy of a life as they give us.

  4. I admire your positive attitude Rebecca. A year & a half ago my 13yr old lab mix, Sheba, started puking & losing weight. This progressed & progressed until she wouldn’t even eat anymore. I had her in & out of the vet, Internal Medicine specialists, emergency rooms, test after test only to confirm that she had stomach cancer & probably only had a few weeks left with us. Do I regret putting her through all the testing? Sometimes. She was in a lot of pain, and I guess I was hoping to find a way to keep her with me a bit longer. It’s taken me all this time since she died Sept, 2011, to come to terms with her absence, we were soulmates, so connected, I’ll never understand the illness that took her from me. Love your Cassi & hold her close & dear, we don’t realize how much we need our 4 footed kids until we lose them.

    • I’m sorry for your loss, Mary. I think our relationships with animals are so different than with humans, because they don’t have the capacity to hurt us emotionally. Our relationships with them are always happy.
      I already know that because of Cassi’s age, I’m not having any testing or treatment done. I want her to live her last little while carefree and vet-free. I have a homeopathic cancer treatment that she is taking twice a day, and we will just hope for the best.

  5. Yup. You made me cry. I admire your strength, and Cassi’s too. I know you will celebrate every single day with her, keep her dressed in the coolest outfits, and know that you have been a wonderful human momma to her. She’s lucky/you’re lucky. Lots of hugs to both of you!

  6. Oh, Rebecca I’m so sorry. We just lost Sophie, and almost lost our new puppy to parvo. But he is doing good now. But loosing Sophie was sooo hard, Its been 3 months and we still cry for her. And Cassi is such a beautiful dog, We all love her here in the park. We love you to, stay strong.

  7. Here I work with you and knew Cassi was not feeling well but geesh 😦 All my prayers and heartfelt wishes that Cassi and you remain happy.and enjoy these days. I admire your strength and let me know if I can help you in anyway.

  8. My heart goes out to you….I fear I will soon be following you in this journey with my own ‘pup’. Out pets ARE our family. Very sad indeed to lose them. Hugs to you both, Zan

    • I’m sorry to hear you have a sick pup too. They certainly are our family.
      And I’m sorry I’m just responding to this now – not sure how I missed your comment.
      Cassi is still doing ok. Several more tumors, but she is still eating well, wagging her tail, and always happy to see me. She’s the best!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s