Update from this post, written almost a year ago. Thanks to the stranger who liked the previous post, I wouldn’t have thought to update it without the notification.
Before we moved from our previous city, Fred was
diagnosed with insulinoma, a particularly aggressive and always fatal pancreatic cancer rarely if ever, seen in small dogs. In our new city, our new vet concurred based on blood work and symptoms, and prescribed a daily dose of prednisone as a bit of a hail Mary to control the growth of the tumor. She recommended we do another round of x-rays six months after beginning the medication.
Pancreatic cancer spreads like mold, and that is what makes it so very dangerous and fast. Not only is it in the endocrine system which travels through our whole bodies, but it grows via thin filaments of cells that infect everything around the site and beyond, and we felt it was only a matter of time before it manifested elsewhere. We kept a close ear on his lungs and eating habits, and watched for other signs that it might have metastasized. In the meantime, we moved house in the spring of this year and set out to find a vet closer to our new place. Enter: The Best Vet on Earth. But let me back up and add the other crucial element to this puzzle.
This is Ramona, born to a mama she looks just like along with three sisters, in August of 2017. We had no intentions for a puppy, we planned to adopt via a Shih Tzu rescue that does a lot of work in Ohio. We wanted to find an older lady friend to keep Fred company in his twilight years and hopefully give him someone to snuggle with. The more we talked about an older rescue, and Fred who doesn’t love to share space (or me) all that much, began to talk about a puppy instead. We knew that aside from plants, we’d likely not raise a living thing from infancy and that’s a valuable experience in marriage and life. Plus, in what remaining time Fred had with us, he could mentor and shape a puppy to be mellow and sleepy like him, and help it realize how to be a great dog before he left his fuzzy mortal coil.
We introduced the prednisone to Fred’s routine around August, found Ramona shortly after, and by October, she was home with us. We spread Fred’s feedings out to four small ones a day and medicated him in hopes of keeping his blood sugar problems under control. We bought a glucose monitor on our previous vet’s recommendation, who showed us where on his paw to take the sample when he had his next low blood sugar fit, and we sat back and waited for it while we got Ramona used to her new home.
But that fit never came. The prednisone dosage was slowly lowered over those six months and shortly before we moved to a bigger place in a neighboring town, we had the second round of films done. Nothing. They showed nothing. No visible cancer, no spread, and a healthy heart, lungs, and liver. Fred was cranky because of the prednisone and new puppy, but they had no visual on an actual illness. They believed he was still sick however, in spite of whatever it was that looked like a tumor the year prior simply appearing gone. We were stunned. And confused. Hopeful, but not confident, we needed a second opinion.
We found a new vet in our new neighborhood and took Fred in for a checkup, to see if we could take him off the prednisone altogether and if they viewed the films differently. They agreed, but took it a step further. Not only does he not have insulinoma, but he’s in remarkably good health for his age and knowing absolutely nothing about his history prior to when he came to us almost three years ago. They felt his glucose was on the low end of healthy, but could be managed with regular feedings and a slower lifestyle (he can’t get much slower, really). He came off the prednisone and his personality has slowly returned. He hadn’t given his tiny kiss-licks in months but there they were, carefully doled out and never too much or often, Fred was his selectively affectionate self again! Ramona piles into his space and knocks him out of the way regularly in acts we refer to as “puppy rude”, he growls and corrects her and sometimes she even backs off. She insists on snuggling with him, whether he likes it or not, and he’s slowly allowing it.
So here’s Fred, 10 years strong and three years part of our family, healthy and as happy as he can be, in it for (hopefully) the long haul.