Gilda Radner, one of my absolute icons, said “It’s always something”. It was usually attributed to her character Roseann Roseannadanna but, it was also the title of her autobiography. And one of my favourite quotes from said book is this:
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
She is so right. We don’t get perfect endings. We don’t get life’s problems wrapped up in 22 minutes with a swell of perfectly timed music and a cuff on the shoulder from whichever relative is dishing up the life changing advice. It doesn’t work that way. You’d think I would know this after all the stuff life has dealt to me, to my family, to my friends but no, one of the most delicious ironies of life is that even though we *know* this to be true, even coming through our hard times and commiserating with friends and family over their hard times, we still fundamentally always want the rainbow at the end of the storm. And I, for one, am always let down so hard when it doesn’t happen.
Where am I going with all this maudlin talk? Our dog Katie has cancer.
We had three dogs; Kira, Katie and Kermit. We got Kermit first seven years ago. He’s a teeny, tiny little black pomapoo weighing now about seven pounds. We named him Kermit-the-dog, or just Kermit for everyday. He is sweet and he thinks he is a cat.
Then, about four months later, we adopted Kira. She was already five years old when we got her and she had been rescued from an abusive home. She had been beaten, had bruised ribs and an injured leg and when she had been rescued, she had been left in a barn in February with no food or fresh water for over a week. She was extremely nervous when we brought her home and jumped at every loud sound for weeks. But then she fell in love with us the way we had already fallen in love with her. She was a big girl, an Australian Blue Heeler and she thought her 70lb self was a lapdog. Like Kermit. We loved her right up until we lost her at 12 years old just this past November.
We never intended to get another dog, but I came home from work one day talking about my boss’s new puppy. A puggle. Cute as can be. The kids wanted to know what a puggle looked like and so we googled the breed. And then we saw the ad. A local farmer’s dog had given birth to 11 puppies. Puggle-bulldogs. They looked like caramel. As the kids flicked through the pictures of them, they landed on one and I blurted out “oh look, Katie!”. That was it. Shawn and I drove out to the farm and Katie came home with us. She is one of the most beautiful dogs in the world. She is lively and active and, well, kinda dumb, but in an adorable way (unless we’re trying to get her to come in from the woods at our house).
A little while ago we noticed that she had a bump on her back paw. So, two Saturdays ago, we took her to the vet. They thought, as I did, that it was a blood or fluid filled cyst. Not wholly uncommon, but they wanted to wait to lance it until this past Tuesday. So, Tuesday last week, I brought her back in and went home to await the call to come pick her back up.
The call came, but it wasn’t the news we expected. There was no fluid in the cyst. Also, it was much bigger than we all originally thought and it was in her lymph nodes. It was so full of tissue that even the incision barely bled. So they biopsied it and sent it out to the university.
Two days ago they called us to confirm cancer. Aggressive cancer. She will have to at the very least lose the limb up to the hip and that may not even be enough. We are heartbroken. And it’s so hard to watch our girl just scampering around as usual because she doesn’t know.
I know, those of you without pets are probably thinking I’m crazy to talk about my dogs with such emotion. After all, they’re only pets. But, they’re not ONLY pets. They are part of our family. When Shawn was in the hospital the dogs were all extra affectionate. They knew we were hurting. They gave us loads of extra attention. And now we’re planning out the next months or so of Katie’s life and trying to make the right choices and it’s hard.
Because it’s always something. And sometimes the something gets overwhelming. Because what I’d really like for a little while, is a whole lot of nothing.