Between the time I scheduled Josie’s rhinoscopy and her appointment, I had a wake up call. I mentioned before I thought I was handling everything pretty well. Unfortunately, my stress levels had risen and I hadn’t even noticed. I didn’t realize it until the day a friend asked me if perhaps, just maybe, everything going on with Josie was harder on me than I realized. Perhaps, I was stressed and anxious about what was going on with her. After all, she’s my family. And I was going to have to decide her fate. That’s a lot of pressure.
That’s when I admitted it. My dog was going to die. And yes – I was a wreck.
My friend had some helpful suggestions, and recommended I stop reading sad cancer dog stories. I’m kinda grateful I ignored that piece of advice because my internet searches lead me to the best piece of advice I could have read. I found it on DogCancerBlog.com and it comes from The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. The author suggests what a pet owner’s number one priority should be once they discover their pet has cancer:
Right out of veterinary school, I would have said ‘Figure out which treatment is going to help the most.’ But today, after years of experience and research, and with still no magical cure for cancer, I have a different answer.
Your first priority is to clear your mind and heart of emotional upset, to manage the negative emotions as much as possible. Your second priority is to ramp up your positive emotions and reconnect with your deepest love for your dog. Nothing else – and I mean nothing else – is more important. It’s your absolute first priority. All of your treatment decisions, all of your actions, will benefit from this first step. And it’s the most important way to help your dog all along the way.
It didn’t happen overnight, and I still struggle with it, but I started making a conscious effort for things to return to normal in my house. Well, maybe not normal – Josie has had a lot of trips to the vet and some pretty rough sick days. But I don’t look at her like she is dying anymore. Instead, I look at her like she’s my dog – just like she always has been. I yell at her when she’s bad or won’t stop barking. And I cuddle with her when she jumps up on the bed or the couch. And I watch her sleep – cause she’s so adorable and I think – wow – I’m lucky. So friggin’ lucky to have her in my life right now.