Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A rough road ahead

Isn't it funny how quickly life happens? The days just fly by, rolling one into the other and in the blink of an eye weeks have passed. It's amazing.

These past few weeks happened so quickly that I haven't even had time to write about them.... but tonight I'm making a point to share with you all what has been happening in our little corner of the world.

This post is dedicated to the saddest part of the last few weeks.

Our sweet, beautiful, loving boxer boy, Charlie Brown, has been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer.

It all began in August. We detected a slight limp in his gait, seeming to fall on his right front leg. A trip to the vet confirmed a sprained toe and pain medication was prescribed.

A month later, the limp was back, but much worse. Another trip to the vet. This time radiographs were taken, although nothing abnormal appeared. It was determined that his shoulder area was extremely tender and painful to the touch, so a diagnosis of tendonitis was made. He received a cortisone shot, instructions to rest as much as possible and a two-week regimen of pain pills to begin two weeks after the appointment.

His limp never went away. We noticed that even though he was on medication, he still seemed to be in quite a bit of pain. Back to the vet we went last week. More radiographs were taken. Only this time they were different. Now a tumor is on his scapula. A 1" by 2" tumor appeared in 6 weeks. It is eating away at his bone. The vet suspects bone cancer.

A referral to an Oncologist is made and we are able to get in within a few days time. The Oncologist suspects one of two types of cancer. They took an ultrasound of his shoulder and a biopsy of the tumor.

Over the weekend we asked for prayers, well wishes, and special thoughts for our sweet boy. We discussed all of the options. We spent extra time rubbing his head, receiving his handshakes, slipping his extra treats and showering him with love.

Today I received the dreaded phone call. I held my breath, willing for the doctor to tell me that it wasn't terminal.  That he would be fine. That he would recover. That we would have years left with our baby. It didn't happen.

Life is cruel, fickle and not always fair. And for some reason, it seems to be most unfair when it comes to our pets. You may remember that we had another boxer whom we also lost to cancer. We only had one year before our sweet Diego succumbed to lymphoma. It really makes you wonder why these things happen...

So here we are with big decisions ahead. Charlie needs to have his leg amputated. If not, it will shatter. The tumor has all ready eaten away a significant part of his bone and it's only a matter of time before he cannot support his own weight and his bone is crushed in the process. We are meeting with a surgeon on Friday to discuss the procedure.

After that, he will need chemotherapy. Even with the chemo and the amputation, Charlie has only been given a 5% chance of beating the cancer. The oncologist has given him 12 months to live.

We are heartbroken.

I was holding Connor as I spoke to the doctor. Aidan was running around playing with a ball, oblivious to the dreadful news I was receiving. Once I hung up the phone, I sat on the floor, leaned up against our refrigerator and just cried, holding Connor close. Charlie, being the wonderful dog that he is, immediately came over, sat in my lap and began licking my face. He sensed my sadness and wanted to make me feel better. That only made my tears fall faster and harder.

This is the most difficult part about being a pet owner. We will always outlive them. We are the ones who will cradle their dying heads in our laps, our tears dampening their soft fur, whispering sweet memories and words of comfort into their ears. And they will be happy in that moment. Even though they are dying.

Happy because they are with their owners. With the people they love unconditionally. It's the only way they know how to love.

So now, we have to be strong for Charlie Brown. He has a rough road ahead of him.

Learning how to live on three legs will be hard, but we know he'll do well. His best friend, our little dog Flippy, will be his biggest support and cheerleader. He'll give Charlie that extra nudge and encouragement he needs to get off his feet.

I am sad that he will lose his leg. Sad to never receive a welcome, loving "paw" or a "high five" from him again. Sad that he will never be able to let out a big, long, lean stretch after a good nap in the sun. Sad that he won't be able to go on long walks or to hop in the car with such ease. We'll never see that excited kidney bean wiggle when we walk in the door- something that would be too hard to attempt on three legs....

Please say a prayer, if you are the praying type, for our sweet boy. Or just keep him in your thoughts.

Losing a pet is the equivalent of losing a child in our eyes. It's especially hard when your child is only five years old. But, we're not giving up. We will be strong for Charlie.

If you have a pet, especially a dog, give them an extra hug and kiss tonight. And remember that they will always love you, even in your darkest hours. In fact, they may be the only true comfort you have at those times. Just love them. Love them and cherish them. We never know what tomorrow may bring.

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." ~Author Unknown

We love you Mr. Brown.



  1. Emily, you have tears absolutely streaming down my face right now...I am more sorry than I can say, and I know EXACTLY how you are feeling...I need to write you an email, darling girl...

    The hardest part about being in Istanbul was leaving my three dogs. Two are with my Mom, and one is being lovingly adored by a friend.

    I miss them so much that my heart aches on a daily basis. And reading this post confirmed the plane ticket that I mentally reserved to come home sooner, simply because I cannot stand this life without animals. My dogs ARE my babies, and I simply cannot live without them.

    I will be thinking of you, praying for you, and most likely crying right along with you as you experience the next few months.

    Love to you darling girl, and I am sending puppy love to your beautiful boy...

  2. I'm not the praying type, but I am the pet owning type, and I am so, so, so, so sorry to hear about this. Two of the cats I grew up with had health issues when they were older, so I know what it's like, and now owning two of my very own cats I'm not looking forward to the day when this is my reality :( *a million hugs*

  3. Goodness, friend ... I'm so very sorry. :'(

    Praying for ALL of you. *hugs*

  4. Not sure I should have read this, as sick animals always bring me to tears. The family dog I grew up with died two weeks before my wedding, and to this day thinking about him still makes me cry. Your words about Charlie Brown were so sweet; your words about how we need pets and our pets need us even sweeter. I hope his last few month are full of chew toys and cuddles and sunshine!

  5. So sorry to hear about Charlie Brown's illness. Animals always know exactly what you need, and how to comfort their people. It seems like when it rains it pours! Praying for your family during this time!

  6. I'm praying for you all. Our beloved family dog that I grew up with passed away a few years ago and it was rough. We have a dog and a cat now who are sort of in "middle age" and I can't bear the thought of losing them. Especially since when that time does come, Cate will definitely be old enough to understand grief, and possibly Brennan as well. Hugs, my friend. May whatever time you have left with him be blessed.


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