From bad to worse to a lady named Josephine

If nothing else, at least I didn’t get sucked into a giant sinkhole last night. Did you guys see that story on the news? If there weren’t enough reasons to stay out of Florida (bath salt zombies eating people’s faces, alligators, Miami Sound Machine…I could go on and on), but now there are monster sinkholes that appear out of nowhere. It’s really too much.

But, since I wasn’t sucked down a sinkhole, I should probably catch you up on what has been going on. As you all know, I moved to Oregon and took a new job. Those are big things, of course, but not the only things that have been happening in the last month. I’ll start with the worst news first.

Barley waits to see the specialist.

Barley waits to see the specialist.

• Barley has liver cancer. A vet in our new town practically fell over when she reviewed Barley’s chart from our last vet. She felt he didn’t have liver disease or Cushing’s Disease, and advised us to see a specialist in Medford. We did and she was awesome. She was certain he had Cushing’s Disease, but confirmed that his liver trouble wasn’t liver disease, but a symptom of the Cushing’s. That was the good news. She was concerned, however, about how skinny he is in comparison to how much food he’s eating (he eats twice as much as Dougal and is still losing weight), and suggested an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed a liver tumor, which tested positive for liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma). Basically, his liver is turning into a giant tumor. That’s the bad news.

The worse news is that this kind of cancer doesn’t respond well to chemotherapy and the surgical option is very painful, uncertain, and risky in a dog his age with Cushing’s Disease. After a lot of researching, talking to different vets, and scouring my own conscience, I decided to forgo treatment and let the disease run its course. Unfortunately, that course ends in liver failure and death. The vet thinks he has about a year.

The new home offers new opportunities for rolling pastures and acres of cows.

The new home offers new opportunities for rolling pastures and acres of cows.

Honestly, I’m heartbroken about it. I’m scared to cut his hair because I know how skinny he us underneath that fluff, and I don’t want to see my once-robust little macho man turning into something frail and sick. Already, when I pick him up, he feels so light and small. He also tends to smell like pee, which is so hard for me to handle. The tumor makes him drink a lot and drinking makes him pee a lot, including in his bed while he sleeps. So, he often smells like pee and it breaks my heart. It’s just another sign that his health is not good and that too soon there will be a really difficult decision to make.

I’m grateful to know it’s coming. I’d much rather have this time, knowing it will end sooner than I’d like, than for him to suddenly drop dead with no warning. I know this is better; I can give him the best life possible and really make sure I take plenty of pictures, spend as much time with him as I can, and savor all the special moments we share every day (including the times he’s peed out the top of his diaper, which is completely hilarious). But, it still sucks to know what I never want to happen will happen before too long. A year is so little, but we’ll be lucky to have it.

• Barley has surgical skills. Throughout this whole thing, Barley developed a nasty growth between his toes. It was black and crusty, and caused him to limp and lay around. I planned to get it surgically removed. Fortunately, he beat me to it. I went to work one day and, when I came home, the limp was gone and so was the growth. I suspect he ate it since, in the days that followed, he found that foot especially delicious. I think he was going back for more. If you need any moles removed, let me know and I’ll ask Dr. Barley for a taste test…er…consultation.

• Acorns are everywhere. My favorite thing so far about being back in Oregon is the acorns. I love acorns. I think they’re adorable. I want to decorate the new place in an acorn theme. I’d also like an acorn necklace and acorn everything else. Acorns are the new owls.

• A miniature rose has a new home. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a miniature rose. It’s one of those nutty things I’ve never told anyone. I just love them. So, imagine my surprise earlier this week when I came home to my own miniature rose! Ben picked one up for me and had no idea I would jump and scream and act like a crazy person when I saw it. She’s hot pink and her name is Josephine. I know we’re going to be very happy together.

That’s all I have for now. It sure feels like a lot! From cancer to roses, my work here is done!