Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just one week ago... by Margaret Ullrich

Could it really only have been seven days?

We'd had a nice Thanksgiving. We were particularly grateful because our 8-year-old bichon frise, BoBo, was still with us. Paul walked him while I was preparing the turkey dinner. Paul thought Bobo would only be able to do a short walk, so he meandered in the neighborhood instead of heading north or west. BoBo knows the neighborhood so well that, when he sees that he's being headed home, he pulls in the opposite direction.

BoBo wolfed down a generous portion of turkey. We decided to feed him whatever he wanted. He hated the special diet the vet had us giving him since April, when he was first diagnosed with having liver problems. BoBo wouldn't touch anything higher than 1 part medical food to 1 1/2 parts Beneful.

It was hard to believe he had cancer.

The previous Wednesday BoBo had suddenly had a seizure. My husband called the vet for an appointment. The next day he took BoBo to the vet for some blood work and was told to return the next day.

The next morning Bobo had another fit. Paul took him to the vet for x rays. We'd never had a dog have a serious medical problem at such a young age, so we still hoped the vet would find the right medicine for him.

The news wasn't good. BoBo had liver cancer. Paul saw the x ray - BoBo's enlarged liver was pressing on his other organs. The vet gave us pills and a liquid (squirted by syringe into BoBo's mouth 3 times a day) to control the seizures and keep him comfortable. BoBo seemed okay.

We took BoBo for a walk and talked about how life was going to change. For 37 years we'd had at least one dog with all that entails: does a motel accept dogs, going to see a tourist sight solo while the other stayed out with the dogs, not leaving them alone for more than 4 hours, somebody there to take a walk at regular intervals no matter the weather, getting up at night to let a dog out to pee, cleaning up after them.

Then, on Friday evening, BoBo had terrible seizures that lasted while Paul was out and during most of the night. We gave BoBo the medicine to control the seizures, but we were afraid to leave him alone in case he had another. What about going to church, the dentist, etc.?

By Saturday BoBo couldn't walk far. What shocked us was how suddenly this all happened. On Friday we had taken him for an hour long walk, now he just very slowly walked a little in the yard. Other than that, he seemed comfortable.

On Sunday we drove to Portage la Prairie to see the deer and walk in the park surrounded by the lake. At first BoBo seemed sleepy, so we thought it would just be a 5 minute look around and that we would have to carry him. Then BoBo suddenly perked up and wanted to explore. We walked around the arboretum, the water slide park and the pond. He even wanted to approach the kids we saw. He was on the go for over an hour.

Then we went to our traditional spot - Dairy Queen. BoBo still had an appetite for their fries and burger, with a few spoonfuls of pumpkin pie blizzard for dessert. After that he wanted another walk. He had a good night and peed and pooped twice.

Last Tuesday, the day after Thanksgiving, the Bathfitter came to do our bathroom. Bobo insisted on an hour and a half walk and saw many of his friends. After lunch BoBo wanted another hour and a half walk. He also barked at the Bathfitter man, who laughed and said he'd also had a bichon who thought he was bigger than he actually was.

We thought BoBo would be with us for a while. Our other bichon frise, Popcorn, had also been diagnosed with liver cancer. We remembered how we had been nervous for a few months. We'd gone to Riding Mountain for a week and brought 3 large garbage bags in case Popcorn died during our stay. He'd survived about 6 months after his diagnosis.

So, we decided to take it one day at a time.

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