Be Well, Lucy

My girl Lucy is very sick.

She loves to chase squirrels and when we first noticed her limping a little last week, we put it down to a sprain. But the limp began to get worse and we rushed her to the ER.

It has to be a sprain, I said to Desi again and again on our drive over. We should never have given in to her demands to run around with Opie in the backyard. We should have forced her to rest, however much she hated it. She doesn’t know any better– we are the parents. How could we be so careless?

We did have deeper fears: Lucy’s a German Shepherd, a breed prone to hip dysplasia, a displacement of the hip bones, and when she neared her eighth birthday last September the vet warned she could be at risk. We steeled ourselves to hear it was that, or arthritis. Devastating as that would be, we could deal with it: we’ve been living with Opie’s arthritis and hip dysplasia for four years now.

We had no idea.

Looking at a picture of Lucy’s leg bones on an X-ray screen Sunday morning, the vet gave her verdict: Osteosarcoma, a malignant bone cancer that has usually spread through the body before its symptoms show up.

At best, she said, after her affected leg is amputated, Lucy might live up to a year, maybe two if we were lucky. “It is one of the worst cancers a dog can get,” she said. “The prognosis is very poor.”

Like all pet parents, Desi and I have always known that our kids won’t live through our lifetimes. We don’t think about it a lot, but we know it will happen and accept it.

But at eight, Lucy is too young. A child forever. Even in dog years, she is only middle aged.
Were there signs? We’ve been wondering. Was she, somehow, trying to tell us that she was in pain and we missed it? Dogs don’t show pain easily: a trait bred by instinct and experience of living in packs. Any sign of pain would be construed as weakness by other animals in the pack. We don’t know how long she may have been hurting before she began to limp.

Lucy is our first-born. We call her that because she was our first rescue in the United States. She came from the Washington Humane Society, a one-year-old so smart, so silly, so gorgeous and so redheaded that we just had to name her Lucy after the wonderful sitcom star.

The first day we brought her home, a naive Desi — who she immediately adopted as her favorite person — put her new collar around her neck, a little too loose as it turned out, and took her for a walk. She easily pulled her head out of it to chase after Polo, the doberman next door, and disappeared into some woods nearby. But bright as she is, she found her way back by herself minutes later although she had spent only a few hours with us by that time.

Over the last two years I’ve shared many stories on this blog about Lucy. How the pressure cooker and thunderstorms send her flying for cover in the basement. How she has figured out ways to score treats without working for them. How she literally stops traffic in our neighborhood when we walk her, beautiful and elegant as she is. How she bosses over the other dogs at home and fiercely protects them around strange dogs. How she loves to go for long drives, hogging the entire backseat. How she offers up her stomach for a tummy rub to every person that comes into the house.

I could talk to you about her all day and all night. But right now all I can think of is making her better again.

There is a difficult road ahead of us, most of all for Lucy. Biopsy, amputation, chemotherapy, radiation are words that seem too harsh for our baby girl, but I’ve been reading up and apparently dogs do really well with three legs. And there are dogs who, with treatment, have even beaten osteosarcoma — a small percentage, but they do exist.

The first time I saw Lucy, she was sitting in a run at the animal shelter, a skinny but beautiful creature. Unlike the other dogs, climbing up on the bars and barking to lick hands and kiss faces, she sat quiet, too dignified to demand attention from strangers. She barely acknowledged me when I offered her my hand. But both Desi and I could see that she was special.

When the shelter volunteer took her outside so we could meet her, the first thing she did was run all the way to the fence. Then she ran back and forth along it, a creature so majestic, it was hard not to fall in love with her.

Running is what Lucy loves best. Except, perhaps, going on long drives and barking at every dog she sees out the window. Occasionally on weekends we’d take her out to the woods and she’d go to town chasing squirrels, bees and even the occasional bird (she’s never actually caught anything in nearly eight years, but she doesn’t think that’s any reason to give up).

She can’t run any more because the bone in her leg is so weak, it could fracture easily and not heal. She can barely walk. But veterinary medicine has advanced quite a bit and we have every hope our baby will heal and maybe even run again. And there is still a tiny hope that maybe the bone biopsy might reveal it is something else after all, not cancer.

Please keep her in your thoughts.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Comments

  1. says

    Oh Vaishali, how heartbreaking! Tears welled in my eyes as I read this post.

    My hugs to Lucy and best wishes for the long road ahead. I will keep her, and you and Desi, in my thoughts. She has you as parents, which is already a big factor in her favor.

    Please let me know if I can do anything to help.

  2. Anonymous says

    I am sad to read this news. Yes, let us hope that she gets well soon. I had many pets during my childhood. Hence, I know what it is to see them in pain. Take good care of her during her sickness.

  3. says

    OMG! I will pray for her. It is so shocking to read about her. She is so gorgeous.
    I really don’t know what else to say. Its very shocking.

  4. says

    Landed on your blog accidentally. Praying for Lucy. I’ve been a pet-parent thrice before and have felt your pain. All I can say to you is, fight it with all your might. Miracles happen. They have, for one of my doggies. All the best.

  5. Anonymous says

    My heart goes out to you! I know how awful it can be when a beloved pet is ill. Lucy seems like a wonderful, special dog and you clearly love her very much. She and you are most definitely in my thoughts.
    Hoping for the best -
    Laura

  6. says

    Sending good healing vibes towards your family and Lucy. She’s a gorgeous lady and I hope she pulls through. Every dog should be so lucky as to have people in their lives like you and yours.

  7. says

    Vaishali, I don’t have any words to express my feelings. Be brave. As you said, it could be nothing and she might just beat all the odds. A big hug to you and Lucy. She is gorgeous.

  8. says

    I am so sorry for the news you have learned, and what must follow. But please do not give up. There is always a chance. Please keep us updated. And in the meanwhile, my heart thoughts and prayers go out to you and your baby.

  9. says

    Hi Vaishali, I’ve always loved reading about your dogs on this blog and I know what a special relationship you have with them. You and Lucy will be in all my prayers, I really hope she gets better very soon. And what a comfort it must be to Lucy that she has such lovely parents. Good luck with everything and do take care of yourself as well.

  10. says

    Vaishali .. the tears are getting in way of my typing. I just hope Lucy gets well soon … and that she does not have to deal with a lot of pain. I just remembered my baby … a Pom … who passed away a few years back. They are so dignified and quiet when in pain .. and trust us without a doubt to make everything alright for them … which really breaks my heart. Lucy has you beside her and that is enough. My prayers are with her and you too.

  11. says

    Dear Vaishali, I am really saddened to read this…I know how you feel..We’ll keep hoping, sometimes miracles do happen right….your Lucy will be all better soon…take care…hugs.

  12. says

    Lucy is very lucky to have found you both, people who care so, so deeply for her. I can’t help but think that sometimes there is a reason why the animals we love come into our lives. Perhaps for Lucy it meant finding people to love her with all their being to help her through this tough time.

    I’ve cared for and fallen in love with many animals, and I know all too well what you’re both going through right now. What helps me is to remember that despite all of the pain and sadness during times like this, all of it is worth going through to have the chance to be able to share in the lives of these wonderful animals.

    I hope with all my heart that Lucy makes it past this and continues to live a long, happy life with you. I’m sending you all my best thoughts, wishes and love.

  13. says

    Oh Vaishali! this is so heartbreaking.
    WARM hugs to dear Lucy and BEST wishes to her. I will pray for her, for strength to pull thru and enjoy all she likes and go for long, long drives with u and Desi. The gorgeous darling deserves it!
    Take care of all 3 of u.

  14. says

    The poor baby :(…I will definitely keep her in my thoughts and prayers and hope for the very best! She’s very lucky to have you and Desi as her parents!

  15. Amrita says

    Lucy is in my thoughts and prayers Vaishali. I pray that she is one of those who is able to beat osteosarcoma, I really do. With all your love and the prayers pouring in from all over, she will, I hope!

  16. says

    What a heartbreaking post, I am so so so sorry for you and your family.

    It just is not fair that dogs don’t live as long as we do. They are children forever, like you say, and they always go too soon.

    I am thinking about you and your family.

  17. Anonymous says

    Tears welled in my eyes as I read this post; how heartbreaking! Lucy is in our prayers. We have 5 dogs; I totally understand your pain.

    All the best to you and your family,

    Allana

  18. says

    I’m sorry to read this. I know how sad this is. My own dog, Bob, had been wobbly a few days, but otherwise his own self, so we thought he was fine. One day he wasn’t home when we were. A few hours later, I called him and heard whimpering at the bottom of the steps and poor Bob could not move his back legs at all. I was so afraid he was going to die. I forget how old he is, but he is no more than six years old. Another of my dogs died from poison, so I was afraid it was paralysis from that. We took him to the vet, and it was severe back arthritis. Now, after rounds of prednisone and developing Cushing’s disease, he can’t jump or run full out, but he is still the same happy dog. Dogs are so amazing, they will continually surprise you with their strength, toughness, and adaptability. Lucy is beautiful and I am sure that the best will happen for her and she will stay strong. She is in my thoughts.

  19. says

    Dear Vaishali, I’m deeply saddened to read about Lucy’s illness. I’ve experienced some miracles in my life and I know that cancer can sometimes be conquered. I will hold Lucy and your family in my thoughts.
    Jain

  20. says

    Hi Vaishali,
    I am a long-time lurker on your blog. Reading about Lucy has me crying and I am typing with tears streaming down my face. I have been a kitten mommy for 3 years now, I can’t even imagine life without my cats. May whatever you choose for Lucy keep her comfortable and free from suffering, that’s all I pray for. May you have strength to get through these horrendous days. Best wishes,
    Sandya

  21. says

    I have read this blog for many months/years now and this is my first comment. We have 2 rescued dogs and 2 cats and just recently, a friend had to put their dog down – so this has been on my mind a lot. My sympathies to you and good luck to Lucy in her journey to get better. We are sending positive thoughts your way…..

  22. says

    Hi Vaishali – I have been reading your blog for so long, and don’t think i’ve ever commented, but I wanted to say I am sorry to hear about your beloved Lucy’s health problem, and wish you and her the best in treatment. I hope she can be well again soon! She is beautiful, and I can tell she means so much to you. My best to you all.

  23. Sunila says

    So sorry to hear this sad news.
    Our best to Lucy for a healthy recovery.Will keep all of you in my thoughts. Take care.

  24. says

    Vaishali, Desikan, Lucy, and the rest of the family – so sorry to hear that Lucy is in pain, and that you are facing such a hard time. At least you will face it together. Lucy has the best parents to take care of her. My best to all of you.

  25. says

    Vaishali, You, Desi, and Lucy are in my thoughts and I know that Lucy has had wonderful years thanks to being rescued by you. Peace and Love, Stephanie

  26. says

    How very sad to hear about this Vaishali.. I wish you strength and lots of luck so Lucy’s cancer can be reversed. She is such a beautiful dog.

  27. says

    I am so sorry to hear about Lucy. I know how it is, from second hand. My brother rescued a dog from pound who has severe infection and no one was going to adopt her. Ruby is now 6 years but has no teeth still, all food has to be ground up, so she can eat and there is no way to tell how long she will live despite all meds and doctor’s appointment. My brother is making most days till she naturally goes.

    You and desi should do what your heart tell you to do, as it is not an easy answer. You all will be in my prayers, specially Lucy! Get well soon.

  28. Anonymous says

    I am sorry to hear about Lucy’s illness and I hope it isn’t cancer.

    I have been through a lot with my cats and dogs over the years (including cancer) and just letting them go is the hardest thing you can do.

    I think you will always have regrets whether you decide to go for chemo or not. If you decide to not treat the cancer you might wonder what it would have been like for her if you had done so, and in terms of chemo; The treatment is not a cure and it diminishes the quality of their lives while possibly prolonging it no matter what veterinarians tell you.

    You might not want to think this way because I know how much you love Lucy, but keep in mind that chemo is very expensive for you and very lucrative for vets.

    Anyway, if Lucy needs to have a limb amputated, please consider a K-9 cart for her.

    It is a kind of wheelchair for animals and it will make getting around easier for her when you take her out for walks. They aren’t really for indoor use. Here’s the link:

    http://k-9carts.net/Carts-General/evaluating-your-pet.html .

    You and your husband are good humans in my book and I wish the both of you and your animals only the very best!

  29. Anonymous says

    Our Anca has three legs and she hasn’t have any problems with it. She is the boss of all the other cats and just as fast. They adjust great.
    Never give up. And Go for a second opinion just to be sure. It has saved our Anca’s life.
    She now is very healthy. And I have learned to consider every day she is healthy and with us as a true gift.

  30. Anonymous says

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and Lucy. I know what you mean by 8 years old being too young to lose your baby. Last year, my 7 1/2 year old long-haired dachshund, Daisy, got sick. Three weeks of back and forth to the vet, overnight stays, blood tests, x-rays and finally surgery, we lost my beautiful baby. I still have a hard time talking about her, as I am crying as I write this.

    As hard as it is to lose a pet, the joy they bring is priceless. We still have Daisy’s mom, Molly. She is 11 years old and in perfect health. We love her with all our heart and soul. So love your babies and enjoy every minute you have with them.

  31. says

    long time reader, but commenting first time here.With your love and care to see her though,I am sure Lucy will fight and beat this bout of sickness.Sending prayers your way.

  32. says

    Oh Vaishali, this post drove me into to tears, literally.She is so lovely!
    I really love dogs, but these stories and the love that we have for them and the love that they have for us is so genuine, is so pure, that when illness hits one of us is heartbreaking and very difficult to deal with.
    My thoughts and my prayers are with her and with you, lets keep out faith up high!
    Sending lots of luck and inner strength for the days and weeks ahead all of you!
    With all my heart,
    Susana.

  33. says

    Hi Vaishali,

    I am so, so sorry to hear about Lucy. My darling girl (my cat Fifi) died over two years ago from cancer. She had been with me 17 years and her last days were so painful and sad. She was my daughter. There is little comfort I can offer you but I have been sending Lucy Reiki since last night and will continue to do so. I hope you have a lot more time with her. Take care.

  34. says

    I make natural flower energy remedies. They are 100% vegan. I have some very good flower remedies which can complement her while other treatment is going on. They are gentle healers. You know I am a medical doctor. Let me know if I can be of any help.

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