10 Year Old GSD with Leukemia
(Uckfield, Sussex, UK)
Completely out of the blue I was told 2 days ago that my beautiful, healthy 10-year-old German Shepherd dog, Spike, had chronic leukemia.
We'd only popped him to the vet because he had an upset stomach and had been slightly off his food for a couple of weeks - not unusual for him as he's always been a fussy eater and we'd put it down to the exceptionally hot weather in the UK.
The vet was great, examined him, took a blood sample there and then (this was on Sunday afternoon) and made the initial diagnosis within 30 minutes. We made an appointment for the following day (yesterday) to discuss treatment plans, following further analysis of the blood sample.
I didn't sleep Sunday night, had to go home from work on Monday morning because I was too upset to meet people, but seeing Spike, bright and cheery on Monday afternoon, perked me up. He's now starting eating well again (albeit all the treats - roast chicken, minced beef etc). I convinced myself that we were going to get a great treatment regime in place and he'd be with us for many more months.
We went back to the vet last night, only for the news to get worse - it's not chronic, it's acute. More blood has been taken to try to pin the exact nature of the cancer down further so we can review the treatment plan, but the vet has prepared us for the worse. I didn't sleep again last night, just listened to his breathing all night.
I'm trying to be strong for him and for my wife, but vary from a sobbing wreck to someone who's completely rational and planning the coming weeks. I'm sitting at my desk at work right now (I'm lucky enough to have my own office) with tears streaming down my face.
Like most Shepherds, he has formed a bond with one person since we collected him at 8 weeks old - that's me. He's never more than 6 feet away from me (if I shower he lies outside the door) and he sleeps on our bed at night. He's been my constant companion, my friend and our guardian for 10 years. I'm being selfish, but I don't know who I am without him at my side and in my life.
I know we must (and will) do the best for him and this is only going to end one way. It will be at home with my wife and I with him, and with our words in his ears.
But how do you go on beyond this? I really can't see how at this point despite every other good thing in my life.
(Submitted Tuesday, August 06, 2013)