Friday, May 07, 2004

Of butts, baldness and life for a good old dog

It's been a few days of dogs.

First, The Best Dog in the World, or Betsy, has way too much fur for a Florida dog.

Long and thick, it bounces in the air when she runs. This time of year, it starts coming loose in clumps, in big tufts of fur all over the house. This doesn't just last a month or two. No, this shedding business goes on until December. I've been getting her clipped short in the spring and it grows out by chilly weather.

I took her to the groomer Wednesday, and decided to let the groomer bathe Good Old Boy, too, because my well water is still awfully chilly for his old bones to bathe him in the yard and I have a hard time hoisting him out of the bathtub. He's a big golden retriever, about 80 pounds worth, and he's a little arthritic.

When the groomer went to get Good Old Boy out of the crate for me, he slipped on the tile floor and came down on his bottom and he started bleeding. We found a nasty-looking tumor up under his tail, above his anus.

I took him to the vet the next day, thinking this was the end of Good Old Boy. He's too old (I think he's 12 at least, maybe more like 14) and the last surgery, to remove a tumor from his shoulder, was awfully hard on him.

The vet, a new one at the animal hospital I use, said the tumor appeared to be mostly on the surface, and it should be a much easier removal than the last one. Good Old Boy's heart is in great shape for a dog his age [especially considering he had heart worms when I got him a couple of years ago] she said, and x-rays showed no cancer spots on his lungs, liver or spleen -- the usual path of migration. His arthritis didn't even look bad on the x-rays, according to the vet.

So I brought him back this morning and they operated. He came home this evening with a bit of a hole in his butt, a little larger than anticipated, but he should be okay, they said, and without his testicles, because testosterone feeds these kinds of tumors, so it was better to castrate him. Poor Old Boy, with insult added to injury. Not that he's needed his nuggets. Betsy is spayed and just mocks any romantic interest that may come into his brain.

I picked him up this evening instead of letting him stay there overnight, because I know he will rest more comfortably on the padded carpet at home than at the vet's clinic. And even though he's still out of it from the gas and pain killers, he knows he's home. He hates the vet's office. It's not their fault; it's just all the awful things that have happened to him there, like heartworm treatment, surgery, boarding.

So I've got one butt-holed dog and one near-bald dog -- Betsy had a close shave, herself, but she doesn't mind.

Good Old Boy is such a loving, good-natured dog, patient through all his tribulations. I'm praying for him to have a good recovery.

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