I think the dog gods smiled upon my Rocky today. Rocky is my one hundred-three pound German Shepherd. We rescued Rocky nearly six years ago. He was supposed to be a companion for my other dog, Pip. Unfortunately Pip passed two months after we brought him home. He was a hard to place dog because he has a tendency to “nip.” He was bounced around foster homes for years. He would be placed and then returned to foster care. He was abused too. When I first got him, he would cower and shake if I raised my hand near him. How sad. I can’t imagine how people can abuse animals. We traveled to Pittsburg to pick him up. He was so happy that someone was taking him out of a too small crate that he licked us all the way home. For twelve hours. We spent a small fortune with trainers, behaviorists, experts and charlatans. We thought we had the problem licked, but he nipped a friend of mine when I was explaining to another friend how well his training was going. To say I was mortified would be an understatement. He is a very protective dog. With us he is a pussycat; albeit, a very large and loud pussycat. He absolutely adores our family. He has one ear that goes up and the other down. This gives him an endearing goofy look. When I come home after a long day he always “smiles” at me. He will come over to me when I’m on the couch and put his head down. “Pet me,” He says. When I rub his ears or belly he “purrs” with pleasure. He is also the best nap buddy. A big, soft, breathing stuffed animal.
Two weeks ago he was having some difficulty in the “elimination” department. This wasn’t anything new because since we rescued him, he had been having stomach problems. We decided to take him to the vet for an exam. The vet examined him, took some x-rays and blood tests. The results were grim. “Cancer,” the vet said. I was stunned. He wasn’t tired or lethargic. His appetite was good. We were playing fetch that same morning as the vet visit. Adenocarcinoma is a cancer of the anal sac. It can spread to the lymph glands. If not treated, the results are always fatal. The vet suggested we take him to a surgeon who specialized in this type of cancer. We schlepped down to a hospital in Norwalk. Rocky was given more tests and a CAT scan. My wife and I are sitting in the waiting room crying and praying. When the vet finished his evaluations he ushered us into the exam room. He explained that it hadn’t affected his lymph glands. Good news. He also said that he found something on his spleen. Not good news. He then said that that the mass hadn’t spread to the surrounding tissue and he feels confident that with surgery and subsequent chemo, Rocky will make a full recovery and stick around for a few more years. Rocky is about eleven. We are not sure of his actual birth date. For a large dog, that is doing very well. To get a few more years with him is priceless.
It has been an emotional roller coaster. Shock, anger, fear, sadness and hope. We received good news, but it is not over. We still have surgery ahead of us. Nothing is guaranteed. I hope the dog gods keep smiling though. After what he has been through, Rocky deserves nothing less.