Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cancer's Victim

Stoli  - comical dog.   When I came home from work every day, he had to grab a toy first thing.  He would even run away from me to pick up a toy, then run back, very excited, tail wagging.  Then he'd run to the back door to be let out, and as I opened the door, I'd grab the toy from his mouth and he'd fly outside.

He was the messiest water drinker I ever saw.  He loved water, dranks lots of it, would lap it out of the bowl and make huge puddles everywhere.  He would get up, water trailing from his mouth all over the floor.  Our floors are warped because of the amount of water he left there - being working people we had no choice but to leave water out, even knowing the damage he'd do.  I tried everything - a variety of containers within containers, lining the floor with towels and trays, I put steel balls in the bowl designed to make him more delicate - nothing worked.  He was a splash dog.

Oh well, dogs are more important than floors.

Being a greyhound, he was very fast.  I don't know his racing record because he raced in Mexico, but his litter mates were champion dogs in Phoenix.  Stoli was the fastest dog I've ever owned - he could make it around our very large, 1/3 acre long backyard in three bounds.  It was a thing of beauty, seeing him run.

He wasn't allowed on the furniture, but Saturday morning, he would come sneak into bed with me after my husband got up.  I pretended I didn't know he was there.

Stoli was an assertive dog.  He listened to me, and nobody else.  He didn't have the same gentle nature that many greyhounds have  - maybe that's why I think he was a champion.  Oddly though, he always let our other dog Cherry go through the back door first.  She lines up, nose down, in racing stance, waiting for the gate to open and the "We're off!" to sound.  He just went out second, racing days over, toy in mouth.

He was returned to the greyhound rescue once, the previous owners didn't like him and considered him uncontrollable.  I will never understand that - he was a great, sweet dog. They really missed out. They changed his name to "Ollie" too, which explains a lot.  It didn't fit him at all.  They didn't understand the dog.

I just spent the last 45 minutes with him, head on my lap.  He would let out a groan or five.  I don't know if it was discomfort or satisfaction.  Maybe a bit of both.  Maybe he was telling me he was tired.  Maybe he was telling me he wanted a snack.

When my husband got the leash to bring him to his final destination, he jumped up so fast that it made me wonder about our decision.

I didn't go.  My uncontrollable crying would have scared him, and he is scared of vets already.  He and my husband did the walking and the outdoor things together.

He had pancreatic cancer that spread to the liver, obstructing the biliary tracts.  His kidneys were beginning to fail.  The vet said she thought he was too far gone for chemo - that metastatic pancreatic cancer in dogs has about the same cure rate as it does in humans - pretty low.   That photo above was taken six weeks ago, July 9th.  He weighed 70 pounds. He was 50 pounds at his last vet appointment a few days ago.  Cancer took him fast.

He got sicker and sicker but never seemed like he was in serious pain.   He got more lethargic, more weak, but we just now gave him some cheese and he enjoyed that.  I toyed with the idea of letting him die at home, in peace, in his own bed, like I may, but we aren't home all the time and it might disturb the other dog. Plus, although he didn't exhibit outward signs of pain, cancer eating you from the inside probably does cause pain, and why put him through that?  We gave him toredol, drug of choice for vets.  We cancer patients have all taken that and know it does nothing to help with pain - at least for humans.

While in the PET scan yesterday, I had a dream that Stoli threw up on my lap and then looked up at me.  Maybe that was my way of knowing he was telling me it was time.

It is so unfair that as you go through a catastrophic illness like cancer, the animals that comfort you get it too and die when you need them the most.  You see your future and lose your silent companion at the same time.

I have another dog, Cherry, straight off the race track.  We've only had her a few months.  She is very timid and she needed Stoli to help her.  She was afraid of the kitchen for example - she would back away from crossing the threshold.  But when Stoli crossed the threshold, she did too.  She followed him and learned inside dog ways from him.  She is still timid though, and I fear for her (and my stuff - she's a chewer) when she's a lone dog.  We have to work during the day and I don't think she is going to be able to be as calm about it as other dogs.

But, with my health problems, we probably will not be getting another dog right now. It would be an unfair burdon to put on my family.

Stoli, I loved you.  You were MY dog.  You got my disease.

I'll miss you.


  1. I pray for your spirit to find comfort, for your dreams to be filled with Stoli sprinting with Jesus. For Cheri to be led by the lessons he taught her and for your family to mourn peacefully, as they should for the amazing friend you have lost. Bless you

  2. Oh this is so sad. Dogs are our family and he sounds like an awesome dog! Hugs to you!!!

  3. I am so sorry....


  4. My heart goes out to you & your family on the loss of Stoli. I am sorry you lost your dog to cancer. Give some extra loving to Cherry.

  5. Ann,

    I stumbled upon your blog when I saw a comment ZDoggMD had left a few days ago and have been riveted, if cancer can qualify as riveting. I read from the beginning, rooting for you all the way. Five years ago this month my mother began what could hardly be called a battle against metastatic adenocarcinoma of unknown origin. Everywhere they looked, there it was, and she didn't want to know it so we sat silently by while she wasted the last 2 months of her life on 'palliative' chemo that more than likely killed her anyway. Her hair had just begun to fall out when she died, that's how quick it was for her. Mercifully. So you might understand why I find your blog so riveting. As hard as your journey is, you have the gift of a fighting chance. Reading about your struggle to live with a body that has turned against you makes me want to hold you and squeeze you and make it all all right. Reading the post about the mets was like a kick in the chest and I don't even know you but I certainly feel like I do, at least in some warped way.

    Don't ask me why losing your dog is the thing that made me finally comment. Maybe it's because I'm looking at my two year old lab mix Snoop the day after his yearly vaccines with shaky legs because he's having a little systemic reaction. I'm looking at him, and my nine year old shih-tzu Jezebel, and I can't imagine life without them. I know there will be a time when that will come but to have to face the reality of no fuzzy face greeting me at the door (same deal w/the toy here btw), but just not now. She is my first dog, but she loves my husband like there's no tomorrow. Snoop is my dog. My baby boy. Watching him trying to walk with his wobbly legs makes me want to hold him and squeeze the hell out of him too. And I will. I will squeeze the hell out of him for Stoli because dogs really do make everything better.

    Thank you for all of your honesty. Even when you're not trying to be inspiring, you are. I will continue to keep you, your family, Cherry and Stoli in my thoughts and I'm sorry if the above is just a little too much verbal diarrhea but I figured if I'm going to say something might as well just say it all. :)

  6. So sorry you lost a good friend.

    Stoli was an awesome name for a greyhound. I know you'll miss him.

  7. I was profoundly moved after reading this. I'm so sorry for your loss. But I'm also incredibly grateful that you write every word that you write on this blog. Please don't stop.

  8. Ann - how devastating to lose your beloved companion, especially at this difficult juncture. I think I will completely lose the plot if my little fur baby ever leaves me. He is attached to my feet and I can't imagine him not ever just being there. Because that's what pets do best. Just being there. Sending love and hugs to you Stat! Rachel xxxxxx

  9. Oh Ann, I'm so sorry. You made the right choice to spare his suffering, but it is so heartbreaking for you. With love and hugs, Ann in England. xx

  10. As I was reading your post, our cat came and snuggled up with me. He sat by me while I snoozed after every chemo and days of misery after surgeries. He is slowing down, sleeping more and more, less active. I want to take him to the vet but not sure I want to know what they will tell me. I am sorry for your loss. Cancer is not fair.

  11. Ann, I'm so sorry. I know how much joy and happiness a dog can bring to one's life, and when they go, the pain is so intense that there are times you're sure it will never abate. I'm sad for you, and I'm sad for Stoli.

    I hope you can find some peace soon. Lots of good vibes your way. *hugs* I imagine that Stoli couldn't have lived with a more loving family...and I bet he knew that until the end.

  12. I am so sorry Ann
    My doggies are like my babies
    I bet he knew how loved he was too

  13. Here's some inspiration for you:

  14. This is odd, but my cat and I had very similar cancers. Spike was my sick buddy while I was in treatment, but even after he went to kitty heaven, he gave me comfort as I continued to deal with the disease. A friend suggested Spike took a hit for me, and I just clung to that, hoping to live up to his expectations.

  15. Ann, I'm so sorry for the loss of your beloved dog. It is so hard. My cat helped me through chemo and the traumas of cancer, so I know how important pets can be.

    It's good that your pet is no longer suffering. You did the right thing by him.

  16. Oh, Ann, I'm so sorry to hear about Stoli. I remember when you got him and I was so happy you had finally gotten the greyhound you'd wanted for so long.

    This sucks. :(

  17. Ann,
    I am so sorry...
    I love dogs too and i hope God take care you when Stoli has gone.
    God bless you and yor family. Apologise my english. Marina da Silva/ Brazil.

  18. oh, what a heart wrenching thing to have to lose your wonderful stoli; you did the right thing by him. but just think - if it were YOU that had to die, would you just leave him behind? nope, i think you would show the same loyalty, love and presence, and he would know you were there. think of him, feel his presence, invite him to come lay by your side, tell him all he means to you. while you remember him, and even when you forget to, who he really is LIVES. warm hugs to comfort you.

  19. Ann, I'm so sorry to read this. It's one thing to deal with cancer yourself, but to watch something you love so much, something so innocent, loyal, and sweet, to go through it too, must be gut-wrenching and heart breaking. :(

    I've been told that getting a dog is like signing up for a little piece of your own personal tragedy, and it is so true. My shih-tzu died from canine lymphoma 2.5 years ago, and the pain is still fresh, although I would say better, at this point in time. I blogged about her here. Sometimes it's therapeutic to read about it, you know?

    Hugs to you and your family, and to sweet Stoli.

  20. Ann, sweetie--I am so sorry that your beloved dog died, especially at a time like this when you needed each other!

    Another e-mail friend of mine lost her dog shortly after she was told she has stage IV cervical cancer--it was such a blow.

    I'm going to be writing a post about dogs and cancer, and I would like to this post as long as that is OK with you.

    Much love, Jeanne

    Here's the "dogs" category on my blog:

  21. Ann,
    Big Hugs to you.
    So sorry to hear of your beloved pet Stoli.

  22. I'm so sorry, Ann. You probably know how I feel about dogs. Years ago I lost a dog to breast cancer of all things. My dogs were the ones with me when I heard the words, "you have cancer." It's simply unfair that cancer took your Stoli now. I am truly sorry.

  23. Ann,

    I'm so sorry to hear about Stoli. I know how comforting our animals can be and I'm heartbroken to know you won't have your pup for the times ahead. Extra scratches to Cherry from me.


  24. Ann, I am sorry. Reading about Stoli makes me miss my doggie. I may have to visit the local Humane Society soon...

    : ) Hugs, Tuesday22 (Mary)

  25. When you wrote about your dog having cancer, I was sad. But I am sadder still to read he is now gone. I'm so sorry you have to suffer this loss on top of everything else you are dealing with. Sending peace.

  26. I'm so sorry. It's so painful and so sad. Wishing you peace and comfort.

  27. Wow, this is a lot for you and your family to deal with... I'm so sorry that you all have to go thru this pain.

  28. Breast cancer is definitely very difficult to deal with and the chronic life diseases are ones which breed a lot of mental agony and pain also.

  29. I'm so sorry. I lost my baby (thirteen year old sheltie) this past year,to cancer, too, and it was so hard. And at the time, I didn't know I had cancer as well -- I can't even imagine how much this ripped at your heart. ((HUG))

  30. No words can express how sorry I am about Stoli, but your love and the important role he played in your life comes through in this post. Sending hugs.


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