Lost Our Cockapoo to Liver Cancer
Right after her last grooming, my mom's favorite picture of her.
Tessie Marie, our sweet little cockapoo of only seven years, passed away Sunday evening, February 27th, 2011 from an extremely aggressive liver cancer that took hold of her only mere days before she died.
Last week I picked her up on Monday and realized she was way too light, so I immediately went to weigh her. Normally she would be around 17 to 20 pounds and she then weighed 12.5 pounds. We started feeding her more, unsure of why she'd lost such a dramatic amount of weight. She started to eat and gained two pounds, but took a turn for the worst two days later when she dropped down to 12 pounds and lost all sense of appetite - all she would eat at that point was baby food and it wasn't much when she did eat.
We took her to the vet on Friday because she'd lost all motivation to move, and she was extremely inactive for her normal hyperactive self. The vet took a stool sample, which hurt her - she screamed so loud it nearly broke my heart. He came back and said he didn't like the look of it. Her vitals were off the charts and that something was wrong with her liver. He said he was afraid it was a tumor but had no way of knowing for sure, so he ran a couple of blood tests on her and called us back a couple hours later and said it didn't look good.
She was so still that day, she'd sit on my stomach and just lay there, sleeping. You could tell she was having a hard time breathing and it was horrible watching her like that. We began to panic every time she would lay down to sleep, because she was so eerily still that we were afraid she wasn't breathing anymore. We watched her, and all day Saturday she barely moved around, and all we could get her to eat was chicken. She got so very still, and while I watched her sleep I knew we were looking at the end.
The following morning we got up and she was more mobile than she had been in days and she was wagging her little nubbin, which she hadn't done in days. We left for church and returned two hours later to an apartment covered in vomit, diarrhea, and some spots of yellow liquid we aren't convinced was pee. She'd thrown up all the chicken she'd previously eaten and wouldn't come to the door when we got home. We found her in my room waiting for us to come get her. We brought her into the living room where we proceeded to attempt a clean up job, when our Spot Shot can stopped working, my mom made a run to the store, while I sat at home watching both puppies. She came over to me and laid at my feet until mom came home, when mom picked her up and held her.
I had looked up liver disease in dogs on the internet while my mom had gone to the store and she had all the symptoms of it. When I started to read off about how the jaundice would be the first and most prominent sign of her liver failing, we then noticed how very yellow her eyes had turned. Since we knew to look for that, we'd been watching her very closely so we knew that when we left that morning, her eyes were as white as they could ever have been. We called my Granny and she called the vet.
On our way to the vet, she vomited again. It was pure yellow liquid. We noticed in the truck, on our way to the vet, how yellow the inside of her ears had turned and we knew this was the last time we would have our little puppy in the car with us.
We finally got to the vet - who came in when the clinic was closed to help her. He'd been calling us twice a day since we'd brought her in to check on her and her progress. When I told him Sunday morning during church that when she laid down and her abdomen was tough and bloated, he sounded so discouraged and stated that her liver just wasn't working right. He took a look at her when we brought her in Sunday afternoon and said he was going to give her a tranquilizer to dull the pain while he ran another test and ran some fluids in her. He called us an hour later saying her gums were looking a little better than when we brought her in, but he wasn't too sure that she was going to pull through this.
By this time, mom, Granny, and I were all in tears, knowing we were fixing to lose a member of our family. He called us an hour after the first call and said we were pretty much the same as before, and that he had spoken with the internal medicine folks and they were not at all happy with what he'd been seeing, and said they thought it was cancer. All signs pointed to a tumor in her liver causing it to shut down.
It was another hour and a half after that when we got the final call. He had been calling my cell phone up until this point, when he decided to call Granny's cell instead. Granny listened for a minute and turned to mom and said, "She's gone, she went in her sleep." Mom nearly lost it and my heart just shattered. The only thing mom wanted to do was be there when she went, so that she was the last thing Tessie saw. But because our vet was so determined to try and save her, we can't be mad we weren't there. Seeing her at the end was heart wrenching and I wish more than anything that mom didn't have to see her precious little girl like that, with almost completely yellow eyes and ears.
It's been hard being at home because memories of her are everywhere we look. We packed up all her toys, her collar, bowl, and little sweaters we'd just bought her. Melvin, our baby boy pekingese who just turned 10, sniffed at them and gave us a look as if to say, "What are you doing? She's going to want those when she comes home." I'm so terrified that he will start looking for her and start grieving, because if he does, I don't know if I could handle it. He's my baby and he's all we have now, and he needs us more than ever.
We believe that she acted strong for us Sunday morning so that we would leave for Church and not have to watch her get sick. Within a matter of two hours it hit her hard and we lost her not five hours later.
She was the sweetest and it's unfair that this happened to such a young dog. She was one month shy of turning eight, which would have happened on March 22nd.
I woke up this morning half expecting her to be at the end of my bed and it hurt knowing she never would be again. The vet said that bringing her in earlier would not have helped and there was absolutely nothing we could have done to prevent it. He said it was such an aggressive cancer that it just attacked her so fast. We've never seen anything work so fast like that, and we weren't prepared to lose her, she was the youngest and it's just terrible that she was the first to go. Unfortunately it doesn't help the pain she's left behind in her absence. My heart breaks because I miss her, but also because I know mom misses her.
I keep asking myself if she knows how much we miss her. I just don't want to believe it, she was supposed to be with us forever, for a long long time. Instead she didn't even make it eight years old.
While I know that it gets better with time, right now it feels like it's the end of the world. When I took a shower last night, memories of the last time I'd bathed her flooded my mind, and I cried so hard I almost made myself sick. I cry more than I ever thought I would, and I wouldn't wish this on anyone, not a soul. No one deserves to go that way, and I praise God that she went so fast, and she didn't suffer. But the down side of the fact that she went so fast, was that... she went so fast. We loved her like no other, and spent the weekend telling her how much we loved her and she would look up at us with those expressive eyes of hers and we knew she loved us too. ):