Posted by: jility | July 25, 2013

The Nothing-is-funny-year-from-hell or Why Do Your Dogs Always Get Fake Cancers and Mine Got the Real Thing?

OK, so the year isn’t over but I am certainly hoping the Universe sees fit to stop torturing us mentally, physically and financially.

AUGUST 2012:

It all started last August of 2012. Well, actually, it started more than three years ago in the spring or 2010. Crushie came in the Global Warmer on three legs. We assumed she hurt herself running outside. She runs like a maniac (or at least she used to). We took her to see a couple of vets. One said shoulder and the other toe. We rested her for six weeks and she seemed OK. She would go on and off lame for the next 2 1/2 years with no definitive diagnosis. There were a lot of different opinions from a lot of different vets.

Then we were having a veterinarian do some body work on her and he found a tumor. First biopsy said cancer. Second report on the tumor said cancer. Then our wonderful friend and vet, Dr. Kathy Wendt, asked me if she could send it in to Dr. Powers in Colorado. Kathy said she was the BEST. We said sure. The report came back that is was NOT cancer. It was something her body made to encapsulate a ruptured tendon sheath. Bingo on why she was originally lame!

You will find the whole story in the links below.

So the good news is that Crushie is still running agility. She is nowhere near as fast as she once was, but she is missing a large portion of her triceps muscle that they took with the tumor to make sure they had margins. So she gets her little ass whooped now, who cares, at least she is alive! I overheard somebody saying today that she was slow in the weaves. At first it really hurt and I wanted to punch her in the face. Then I thought about it. Crushie gives it her all, she is sound, she is alive and gets to do what she really loves to do. When her run was over, I turned to the woman and said, “She is slow in the weaves because she had a tumor removed and is missing much of her triceps muscle. She can’t extend her leg like she used to. Oh, and guess what? She ran that STANDARD course in 5.1 yps second and won. So she is not as fast as she once was, but under the circumstances, she does just fine. She is now just normal fast rather than freaky fast.

On the same weekend last year that we thought would be Crushie’s last agility run, our four month old puppy, Xoom, began falling. Each time she fell (the three falls were about two weeks apart), the results got worse. On the third fall, she was completely paralyzed. The diagnosis was not that she was hurt because she fell, but that she fell because she was hurt. It turned out she had what they called a “spontaneous mutation” in her C 1 vertebra and a boney protrusion that had grown down onto her spinal cord, compressing it by 50%. They thought it might be cancer so they removed a large section of the vertebra to relieve the pressure on her spinal cord and to make sure they got margins just in case. Well, it was NOT cancer, even though several folks suggested it was.

I have already written detailed blogs about both dogs and the links are below so I won’t go into more here. So it was surgery, rehab and six months in a crate for Xoom, Sadly, it was all during the most important time in her life for physical and mental development. She really suffered for it, but she has a good life now and lives to chase her idol Crushie.

Here are some links to the original blogs I wrote about both girls:

So that pretty much took up our August and September.


October – December 2012:

Sir Cussalot got to a point where the pain was unbearable so he had back surgery. I had to manage two recovering dogs, seven other obnoxious dogs plus a convalescing man. It was not a fun time as I hurt ALL the time myself! It was beginning to feel like Queen for a Day around the Global Warmer, only without the Queen part (if you understand that, you are as old or older than I am!).

Here is the REST of Sir Cussalot’s surgery story:

Shortly after Sir C’s surgery, our feral dog Millie started throwing up bile. They thought acid reflux, then IBD and some other things. I knew it wasn’t though. She had never shown signs of anything like that and now to start at thirteen years old, well, I had my doubts. She got progressively worse until she could no longer keep anything down and finally she lost her appetite completely. The final diagnosis was stomach cancer. Unfortunately, her cancer was very real and we lost her in December. It was a tough two months and heart wrenching to say good-bye to our wonderful girl.

Here is the entire story:

January 2013:

All the while this was going on, our friend of 40 years, Ernie Treiber, was battling lymphoma. Ernie was Sir C’s best friend and nobody got me or laughed at my stupid jokes the way Ernie did. Not only did he laugh at them, he encouraged me. Losing Ernie was devastating. Ernie and his wife Jane were our traveling buddies. We have traveled the world with them and will miss those travels more than I can say.

We just attended Ernie’s Celebration of Life last weekend. I still can’t believe he is gone.

Here are the blogs I wrote about Jane & Ernie:

February – May 2013:

This time the Universe spread our bad fortune out over a few months. I am grateful for that! In late April, I got very ill. I won’t go into a lot of details, but a couple of times I thought I was going to die (literally) or wanted to anyway. It takes something horrific to send me to the doctor but I dragged myself there. Turned out I burned up the lining of my digestive tract taking Celebrex so I could “run” Pankies on the weekends. I have never been so sick in my entire life and I have had Dengue fever! It was horrible! Here it is the end of July and I am still scared I am going to get sick again. I hurled my guts out about every week or so for hours and hours (nice visual eh?). The pain was excruciating and I would break out in sweats that wouldn’t stop. I was in a supermarket once when a sweat struck. I thought I would pass out I was so hot. There I stood; sweat literally pouring from my face and neck when a little boy walked by with his mom. We were in front of the refrigerator cases at the time. The little boy looks up at his mom and says, “Mom, I’m cold! It is freezing in here!” I was horrified. That was when I knew I was in even worse shape than I thought. Even at 63 and totally spayed in 1997, I have never had a hot flash. Now I have great empathy for those who do!

I am so much better but still messed up. I have to be very careful what I stuff in my fat face. If I don’t overeat or eat fat, I am good to go. However, if I have any dietary indiscretions, I am toast! Not a fun way to go on a diet but hey! Losing weight is losing weight and I will take it ;). If I do agility in a hot place, the sweats return. I tell people what my brother’s friend Snap Snap (long story) used to say, “Fat people sweat” and shrug.

So while I was in my acute stage of holes burned in digestive tract, Isabella decided to get sick again and ended up in the emergency vet while we were at a trial. As if things were bad enough, she bloated for the tenth or eleventh time (I have honestly lost count). HAHAHAHA Universe! Very funny! Way to pig pile on us! Isabella recovered but our bank account was bleeding out.

So time marched on until mid-July. We held our breath as most everything, other than my iffy stomach, was going pretty smoothly. Then the Universe remembered that it was time to torture us and our dogs yet again. The following is what Sir C wrote about what happened on July 17th:

“The dogs all went to the groomer yesterday. While they were there, we took the granddollars to Seattle. We rode the new big ferris wheel on the waterfront, ate at Bamboo Garden and went to a movie. Anyway, we picked up the dogs on our way back from Seattle. The groomer said Josephine wasn’t acting right. When we got home, she could hardly walk and just wanted to lie down and wouldn’t eat. If she won’t eat, something is wrong; she’s a pig. So we watched her for a while and then noticed that her feet and tail were cold. So we thought she was in shock either from trying to bloat or from stress of being at the groomer’s all day. Jose stresses easily in here old age (she is 14). She wasn’t getting better, so about 11 PM I took her to the emergency vet in Olympia. I didn’t want to drive the extra hour to Sumner for fear she wouldn’t make it.

The vet examined her and did an ultrasound. Turns out she had a tumor the size of a grapefruit on her spleen that had ruptured. Her abdomen was full of blood. That’s why she was in shock: from the blood loss. Before he performed surgery to remove the spleen, the vet x-rayed to make sure there were no masses in other places that he could see. He said there was a 70% chance that she wouldn’t make because of blood loss, shock and the surgery, but she did. He doesn’t know old Jose very well. He felt the tumor was an Hermangiosarcoma:

It had to be sent in to a lab to determine if it’s malignant. If it is, the cancer has probably already spread and she may only live another few months. If it’s not, she could go on another few years. She’s 14 now so not much time left anyway.

I had the option of spending another $5000 for the surgery or just putting her to sleep. At 14, it would have been smarter to put her to sleep but I just couldn’t do it so there goes another $5000 to vets.

Somehow, she made it through the surgery and went to recovery for blood transfusions.

Poor old Jose. She gave me everything she had to give on the agility course for years. I figured she deserves the best that I can do for her.”

We waited with guarded optimism for the results from the lab. We hoped for the best but were prepared for the worst.

This morning the vet who removed Jose’s spleen called. I had avoided calling in to get the report because I figured what I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me. That is the normal approach I take to life in general.

Anyway, I told him she was not eating much at all. It has been a week since they removed her spleen and the ruptured mass. I asked him how large it was and he said about the size of a grapefruit. So we talked a while about her eating and drinking and he said it was not unusual for a dog of her advanced years (14) to take so long to recover from an “heroic surgery” like the one she had.

Finally, not being able to avoid the subject any longer, I said, “Well, I have been avoiding calling you and I have been changing the subject here enough so you can’t tell me, but I guess I need to know about the report. Is it back?”

The vet said, “Well, that is why I am calling you.” His voice sounded very down and I was prepared for the worst. I said, “I don’t think I want to hear it.” Vet said, “Oh, I think you do. It was BENIGN!!!”


How is that even possible? Mel & I shed tears of joy. We have shed many tears of sadness this past week (heck, this past year!) it was good to have some joyful tears for a change.

When I called my friend Uncle Jef this morning to tell him, he said, “Why do your dogs always get the fake cancers? Why couldn’t our dog have had fake cancer too?” (He lost his beloved Lab, Milo, to cancer the same day and time we lost Millie) He failed to remember that we may have had three dogs with “fake cancers” this year alone, but we lost our beloved Millie to real cancer (stomach) in December as well as our wonderful friend, Ernie, in January. Jef said Isabella could get real cancer but she would still live to be 20 (those of you who know Isabella and what she has been through in her 13 ½ years on earth will get a kick out of that one).

The vet thinks it could have been caused just by normal aging, or she could have had an injury long ago. Who knows? All I know is that she has used up another life but she is alive and, hopefully, will live to torment all the other dogs for a few more years. Josephine lives to torment all the dogs.

I do hope the Universe is done messing with us for a while anyway (a LONG WHILE!!!). Several people have suggested we buy a lottery ticket because of our luck with the fake cancers this year. We have had our share of the real thing as well so neither off us feels lucky enough to blow a few bucks on the lottery. Even if we won Powerball, it probably wouldn’t pay for all the vet and medical bills this past year!

Another friend said she was sick of my gloomy blogs and wondered when I was going to get back to writing funny ones again. Well, she can thank the Universe for that! We have had the Nothing-is-funny-year-from-hell so it is up to the Universe as to when this shit storm of bad luck ends. Hopefully NOW!
…and then I was diagnosed with colon cancer The real kind too, not the fake kind.


  1. […] Two and a half weeks ago, Josephine had a mass rupture on her spleen. We had her spleen removed and the tumor was benign. I wrote about it in my last blog.… […]

  2. I think you have had it very tough! So glad the news was good for Josephine 🙂

  3. Boy, do I understand that! I’ve had one of those years too, what with breaking my neck, getting psuedo lymphoma (fake cancer!), a breast lump, having lumps removed from my dog, and possibly some other nonsense I can’t remember right now because it pales in comparison to the rest of it all.

  4. 2013 has been a tough year for me too. i lost two loved ones in a few days and then a third a few weeks later. My youngest dog had obstruction surgery earlier in the year. I could go on but suffice to say, this year has been tough. I have to say, as tough as it has been, the blessings have been many. I’m happy for all your good news Helen, I hope the good continues to happen.

  5. May the universe smile upon all of you from now on …

  6. So happy to hear the news Helen! You and Mel certainly have had your share of bad stuff, very happy for the outcome!

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