Dog With One Kidney

I don’t know what my damage is with posting. I’ve had this site for years and have barely touched it, but this summer I thought I would be able to get into a groove, make a schedule, put my blah blah blah out there. Then I found a lump on Max, my ten year old Labrador.

Not one of those old-dog fatty dog lumps – he’s had those for years, but a hard thing right below his rib cage. At first I thought it was just a rib. Max was on a diet so I thought maybe it was working. But, just in case, I took him to my vet, Dr. Falcon (can you believe it?). He knows me well, so if I was being paranoid he would say so and send me on my way.

But no. Instead, he knelt down, felt the lump, and took Max in for X-rays. Falcon told me it was a tumor on his spleen, and that he could do surgery that morning.

“Ok,” I said. Max had surgeries before.

“I’ll give a few minutes to say your goodbyes, just in case.”

What?

“People usually don’t find these,” Falcon told me. “The tumors burst, and you could come home to find him dead. It could burst at any second.”

So I did. I said goodbye and cried freely, as people and staff walked past me, and I didn’t care. It was heart wrenching to watch Max trot off and flirt with a vet tech, not knowing what was about to happen. I texted work, letting them know I wouldn’t be coming in, and spent the rest of the day pacing, crying, being tortured by the unknown. It was a long six hours while I waited for Falcon’s call.

I got Max the year my daughter graduated high school. He had been with me during my first marriage, through the divorce and moving into a small apartment. We walked and jogged thousands of miles together and snuggled in bed every night. He moved with me to my second husbands home, then we road tripped across the country when husband #2 was transferred.

He was steadfast and loving, and it didn’t matter where we were – I was his home.

When Falcon did finally call, he reported it wasn’t a tumor on Max’s spleen, it was a tumor wrapped around a kidney. He took out the kidney too, and it was complicated. He had almost given up.

“He has to stay here tonight,” Falcon said. “And it’s between him and God.”

Max has always been stubborn, so I counted on that. Although I’m not very woo-woo hippie, I tried to send a message to Max as I cried and cried and paced the yard: Do not die in that kennel! Fight! You can die tomorrow, or even on the way home, but not in that kennel alone and scared! Fight, Max, fight!

He fought. He came home.

It’s three and a half months later and he’s still with us, but beginning to fade. The months haven’t been easy; he basically has kidney disease and cancer. I was going to document his struggle in real time, but I couldn’t. The stress and anxiety was too much, and it was all I could do to not just curl up in bed with him and cry for days on end. I probably should have blogged, though. It may have helped.

The contortions of care and research I’ve done have been exhausting, and only in the last few days have I let myself get un-wrung, largely due to Falcon.

“Why do you need more bloodwork?” Falcon asked on our last vet visit. “It’s going to be the same or worse, and I think it’s the cancer that’s wearing him down.”

“How long do you think Max has?” I pressed.

To his credit, Falcon didn’t roll his eyes. I already knew there was no way to tell.

“Why are you even looking for that?” He said. “You need to look at the extra time you already had. Given his medical history, I’m surprised he’s made it this long.”

“We got a bonus round?”

“Exactly.”

So, that’s why I haven’t been around this summer. You dog people know what’s up. And for the first time ever I joined a Facebook group. It is for canine kidney disease and the information and valuable resources I’ve gotten out if it has really surprised me. I thought it would be a lot of people giving half-baked advice, and it is a little bit that, but mostly not.

It felt good to interact about the issue, give virtual hugs, and ask a question once in a while. I was by myself in this but I wasn’t alone.

‘Till next time, blogspace. I swear it won’t be too long this time.

Driving with Triple C’s – Cross Country Cats

Well, almost. It was South Florida to South Dakota, and with it taking five damn hours just to get out of Florida, I think I am permitted to say “cross country”.

Ok – so as soon as we learned of the work transfer, we were like yay!, immediately followed by “oh shit, cats”. Four cats of various ages and temperaments.

Yes, four cats. We’re a blended family, kaaaaay?

I won’t bore you with our details, but here’s what worked for us:

  • Before the big move: Set the carriers out for the cats to get used to. I sprayed feliway on towels and tossed them in.
  • Do trial runs: We would put the cats in the carriers and put them in the garage or around the house for a few hours. From this we learned which cats to put in first. With multi-cats, yes, there is an order. They didn’t like it, but we learned to lure them in with kitty crack (aka canned tuna).
  • For the drive: Have towels or old tee-shirts that you are willing to just toss. They will poop. They will pee. No big deal. Toss the towel, put in a new one.
  • If you have overnight stays: We did. Bring wet food (for hydration) and kitty crack. Also pack disposable or cheap litter pans with flushable litter, and a dustpan + broom to sweep up all their litter mess. (We kept the litter pans in the hotel bathrooms.)

Really, the list above is all you can do. We were so stressed about the 4-day drive for them, but in reality, they did fine. They explored the hotel room, used the litter pans, and ate a little – which was fine since they were just in crates all day.

In fact, some of the little darlings didn’t want to come out of their crates in the hotel room, and would just hang out on them. Others hogged the bed.

Our two dogs were actually more work, when we thought it would be the inverse.

Oh, also, on the DL – most pet-friendly hotels only allow two cats, but there are always side doors. We told the hotels we had pets, and they would tell us how to bring them in without going through the lobby, so staff never counted our cats. I don’t think they really minded how many cats we were bringing in, honestly.

I hope you find this info useful and lowers your stress level. Even our super nervous cat (not pictured) did just fine. Best of luck!