Doxie Doodle, Surf Dog Diaries reporter, takes a walk on the wild side- a hike up past spectacular Mount Hood, past wild bad eagles, wildflowers, towering cliffs, and writes his own dog blog about life in the Columbia River Gorge.Read More
Part 4 of “The Elephant in the room” mini series
Now, after surgery, banging around the house with a Cone Of Shame, doxie Doodle’s eyes are a little less glisteny. The indignity!
But, cone is good – it helps protect those eight angry black stitches on Doodle’s head. Those pesky, annoying, scratchy itchy stitches…
Wieners are thin-skinned anyway, with tiny, pointy faces. They’re almost all nose and some eyes and there’s not a lot of hair or skin (or maybe even excess brains) left for a comb-over for the hole she cut.
Our lady vet must have run out of room. Some of his charismatic doxie forehead wrinkles got removed in the process.
It was a face-lift, like his eyebrows were raised all the time, exclaiming “WHASSUP, DUDE?!”
Normally, aren’t we all up for a little face-lift in middle age?
But it’s really weird on a middle-aged doxie.
I didn’t shoot a lot of photos during this time of our lives.
I waited until emancipation day – the day the cone came off – to resume my normal hundred-plus--dog-pictures-per-week habit.
It was the right thing to do.
We have a dog blog but the cone of indignity was plenty to deal with. You know, doggie HIPPA and all.
His head zipper slowly melted, from angry raised red skin, to flat, bald scalp.
I clipped the stitches out myself with tools from my own personal disasters.
Doodle was a rather patient patient, which is so unlike the humans of my family.
Another eight stitches swam beneath the surface of his little forehead, and they’d dissolve on their own in another month, vet lady said.
I can’t breathe until biopsy results come back.
I can’t breathe, just thinking about it.
The elephant on his head.
In the room.
How quickly things can change.
The Big C.
Phone call, please don't take me back to last year when my old blind dog, Dude, got sick and never recovered.
I miss my Dude, surfing life, and surfing waves with our Surf Dog Diaries family.
Even after losing one eye, then two.
Surfing with glaucoma. Cancer. And Alzheimer’s.
I miss my Elvis, proud basset nose rider on my surfboard. Seeing Eye dog for his blind brother. And me.
Since that crappy year of dog disasters, we’re still trying to find our Mojo, Doodle and I.
Trying to act like the house isn’t painfully empty of another 40 toes, tap dancing when the food bowl calls.
Surfing with one dog, not three.
But after the adjustment period, the grieving and the trying-to-act-normal-again, I think Doodle is secretly happy to earn the top dog spot.
He lived in the shadow of the basset boys.
He has now expanded to fill the void.
He shows me the way through grief – without blinking a stitched-up eye.
Now, no more fast-growing tumor that threatened to take over his head, and our lives, secretly ruining Christmas.
No more elephants.
His or mine.
Doodle’s only seven and a half - 49 in dog years. Too young for cancer.
The dreaded vet call came today.
Heart in throat moments until the vet spoke….
“A sebaceous adenoma, nothing to worry about. Should not recur or grow back. It’s all good news!”
But I read up on it –
“Adenomas are a cutaneous condition characterized by a slow-growing tumor usually presenting as a pink, flesh-colored, or yellow nodule”.
Hmm, that’s weird, I thought the elephant on his head was grey….
And Doodle’s tumor grew from zero to one-half-inch in less than a month, which is both fast and huge on a four-inch doxie brain.
His tumor was also not slow growing. What does that mean?
Google said, “Adenomas are not significant on their own, however may be associated with a genetic condition that predisposes individuals to cancer and particularly colorectal cancer.”
Which begs the question; do they do doxie colonoscopies these days?
OK. So we’re back to fake normal. Totally inappropriate thoughts.
A couple of years ago, the biopsy wasn’t so rosy for my blind dog Dude.
He had bad cancer that spread.
Still, we cheated death until the very end.
He never stopped living.
We stole another two years out of his cancer’s life.
THE MORAL OF OUR STORY IS THIS:
NO MATTER WHAT THE DIAGNOSIS –
WE’RE IN IT TOGETHER.
DON’T LET FEAR STOP LIFE.
OR DRIVE LIFE.
SURF THAT BIOPSY INSTEAD.
A miniseries, part 2
In part 1, last week: After that year of loss, I had one dog left. My doxie, Doodle. Next thing you know, an elephant grew on his head. A fast-growing tumor. At Christmas.
So, after some denial and procrastination…
knowing full well I had to be a grown up - and actually grow up….
I had the elephant in the room surgically removed.
From my doxie’s head.
It was last January and the vet cut it off of, and out of - my dinky doxie.
My snicker doodle poodle.
My long, low wiener with the thin, glossy red carpet on his back.
Glistening, expressive eyes.
The only dog I have left this year, after the worst of all my 50+ years on Planet Earth.
Doodle is the only dog to wrap his paws around my neck, and lean in close as if to whisper some secret-something as I’m propped up in bed. I’m sipping coffee and fiddling around on the laptop, trying to wake up, trying to write our dog blog.
And then, BOOM! The magical moment – the dog kid hug!
The most wonderful way to start your day.
Life begins again.
The cat should be in charge.
Tia presides over the bed and sees those hugs – “so un couth – so un-catty! “
But she’s cool. And warm. She’s a soft and fuzzy presence in our lives.
She does the full-body crush – “just a little pressure,” but in a good way.
Her bone-shaking bass audio, the kitty vibro-purr leaf blower- passing- snow- blower- in- the- night.
She is our anchor. She took over that role after Elvis passed away.
What happened to the scaredy cat, so terrified when I brought her home from the rescue place? It took her two full years to get used to our house.
Now she’s head dudette of the family.
Maybe she would have booked the doxie brain surgery much sooner that I did.
Not, like me, bag him up and take him on a plane under the seat back to our old hometown at Christmas to visit the human family, like nothing was wrong with his head – or mine.
What am I, the middle-aged, middle child here? Non-Alpha in my own home?
Step away from the doxie.
The cat of the house is in charge.
The second elephant in the room - was mine
The other elephant, the biopsy of the first, took its toll on me while we waited to hear if that grey tough-skinned hard knob of a growth on his head – the brain elephant - was malignant.
Or had grown through his tiny skull and thin skin… into his actual grey matter.
They say, always, ALWAYS get growths removed from the head of your dog quickly – since it can so easily grow into the skull and all the good stuff beyond. I read it on the Internet, so it must be true.
I didn’t need that Internet fact in my own brain, that’s for sure. That’s why I froze.
I’m not proud of that, mind you.
In theory, I am supposed to be good in emergencies, what with the nickname Disaster Girl and all.
I am that person you, and your County, hopes you never need. Because that means the worst possible thing has happened to your community. I am Emergency Manager for Hood River County.
Which is a misnomer, really; I don’t do emergencies – only disasters.
Clearly I suck at emergencies. Not cool-headed, cool-skinned – reptilian enough.
Cops and fire guys and 911 dispatchers I work with, easily juggle DV (domestic violence,) code 3 (lights and siren) fire and police emergencies, high speed chases, meth heads and MVC’s (multi vehicle crashes) while nibbling chocolate chip cookies and texting their friends.
Not me! I am a basset. Soft and fuzzy.
But, make no mistake, I can ride the ups and downs - I am a surf dog. I managed the Hood River County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for a month during the Eagle Creek Fire. Together with so many dedicated people, we rode that mother of a fire, until it dwindled out.
The big C… … so common in our lives. In dog life.
Why is that and can it please just stop?
Love so pure and easy and free, from my doxie boy. Who was, for a while, my Elephant Man.
I was crushed by doubt and fear.
I was clingy through stitches and waiting periods.
Clinging to hope.
Asking for life to go easy on us.
Praying like life depended on it. Oh, that’s right – it did.
Praying that even if it was originally malignant, the great life force in the sky would quite simply change those biopsy results, change my doxies’ fate - and return a happy ending instead.
The 2nd elephant in the room was the biopsy.
The longest 10 days in the history of the planet while I waited for that elephant to land.
Or sit and stay, like a dog.
That shrill phone call of dread… from the vet.
With biopsy results.
(continued next week)