I took Lucy to the vet this morning for surgery to have a malignant mast cell tumor removed. I had noticed a little bump on her rear leg a few weeks ago and waited to see what it would do. Would it get bigger? Go away? It didn’t change and since she was due for some vaccines we went to the vet Friday.
The vet aspirated the tumor (I’m not convinced I’m using the correct terminology, but it’s what I’ve got right now.) and came back with a frown on his face to tell me it was a Not Good Thing. He then went on to explain that in the scheme of Not Good Things, this one has a pretty quick and easy fix; surgery to remove the tumor. She’ll have a good sized scar, but she’s got several of those already, and I’ll happily add this one to the collection.
I scheduled the surgery, and felt pretty good about it, all things considered. I still feel pretty good about it.
But I’m feeling a little sentimental anyway. Because if nothing else, this serves to remind me that Lucy, though she has the physique and energy level of a 4 year old lab, is getting older. She’ll be 9 in December, and labs have an 11-12 year life span.
This is the pisser of pet ownership, right? We bring these animals into our lives, we bond with them, we care for them, they care for us, they become our companions, and then they pass, and leave us with the holes and aches and loneliness that comes with death. No matter how they pass (as is the case with people, too) whether it be quickly without pain and suffering, or over time, encountering each difficulty of age along the way, we will eventually be faced with the loss of our pet.
It’s in the distance. It used to be so far over the horizon that I couldn’t see it. Now it’s just cresting the horizon, still pretty far off (binoculars help to find it) but it’s there. Creeping a little closer with each year that passes.
My former housemate (and one of my very best friends) just put his dog, Gus, to sleep in May. He was about 10 years old and had been suffering from increasingly debilitating congestive heart failure for the past year. Gus was like my second dog. I’d lived with him for 4 years, and he and Lucy were best pals. My friend still talks about how coming home to a quiet house is a terribly depressing thing.
One day at a time. Lucy will come home this afternoon, with a little less skin than she started the day with. And odds are this will be a one-time thing, with no further incidents, or intervention needed. And I will try a little harder to remember, each day, how important she is to me.