Dendroboard banner

1 - 3 of 3 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
756 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Today, I was blindsided by the death of my senior Chihuahua, who has been with me for nearly fifteen years. In just under 48 hours, she went from perky, energetic, and seemingly healthy, to looking like she might have been developing a UTI, to having a seizure and going into cardiac arrest.

The emergency veterinary clinic gave a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, which I have since learned is incurable, and does not show diagnostic symptoms until the latest stages. To say its rate of decline is shocking is an understatement. She just had blood work done in January with her dental cleaning, and nothing looked unusual. This took me completely by surprise.

It's hard for me to know how to frame this, in this world where posting anything personal online opens us all up to such an array of criticisms that it makes our vulnerability feel too overwhelming to be worth making the effort towards human connection. I also prefer to share happier, more interesting things on my blog, but I loathe the concept of pretending that sad, awful things are not a natural part of life. They are, and they also tend to frequently stack up all at once. Furthermore, it's difficult to grieve companion animals, given that there is no formal outlet, no funeral or time-honored tradition, and I personally feel the need to mark the occasion. I want to stake my little flag for her here, where it can wave and bear testament to her too short existence.

My little Chihuahua was the sort of friendly, soft, pliable noodle that makes Chihuahua lovers out of small-dog skeptics. She was not perfect. She was obnoxiously whiny, intensely needy, and prone to dramatics. These things also made her an adorably quirky small friend. She knew when I had a bad day, and sought to comfort me, but was also tremendously self-indulgent. When petting her, she would close her eyes and go limp as a rag, fully immersed in her enjoyment. She loved to be held and carried, even on her back, and would beg to be picked up. She would approach anyone for affection, and had a habit of coming to me at the table and whapping me with one paw, asking me to put her on my lap. She also had an obsession with rolling on the bed in the spot where I slept, in the same way that most dogs will roll gleefully in stinky things out in the yard. I'm not sure exactly what that says about me, but she snorted a lot and got really excited doing it, flipping around wildly and throwing her legs in the air.

When she looked at you, she really looked, and had the gentlest expression. She loved to be danced around, and the only thing she wanted out of life was to be with her person all the time. Her tail wagged like waving a tiny surrender flag, loose and carried high in the air. She was a peacemaker in the house, a sort of mother figure, frequently soothing the irritability of her male Chihuahua companion- sometimes telling him in gentle but firm terms to calm himself. When he was miffed, for example, she would place her front paws on his back, stiffly, and stand there with her weight on him until he calmed down, then would lick his face once he began to relax. I sometimes called her the cleaner, because she would lick the insides of all the other dogs' ears, and clean their faces during naptime, too. She was playful right to the end, gregarious and relaxed throughout her life. Hers was a calming presence, above all else.

I never intended to be a small-dog person, and I still prefer larger dogs, but she made a believer of me, and I'll have a soft spot for Chihuahuas forever more. May she rest in peace.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
756 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, Scott.

I thought it would have, too, since my vet suggests annual blood tests for dogs over 12 years. Some of the diagnostics require more specific tests, which are apparently not part of routine blood work. So, if I'm understanding what was explained to me correctly, I would have had to ask to check for it specifically. Early symptoms include vomiting, but that can be attributed to several other causes, and the diagnostic symptoms- elevated liver values, high ammonia levels, low blood glucose levels, among other things- do not appear until the late stages. By the time you see those things in the blood work, the disease has metastasized and spread to the liver. The ER vet told me that the tumor in the pancreas may only be the size of the head of a pin, and would require a CT scan with contrast to be seen. It did not show in her x-rays for this reason.

She would go through bouts of vomiting, and I did bring it up with my vet. We had no reason to suspect this diagnosis in particular. I'm not upset with my vet in the least; there is no cure for this form of cancer, and knowing earlier would not have changed the outcome, but would only have added dread to my remaining time with my dog.

When talking with my vet about it, she told me that her aunt had died of pancreatic cancer. She said that the time from diagnosis to her death was only three weeks. It's a particularly aggressive form of cancer.
 
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
Top