This is the story of a dog named Teddy. Teddy (aka Theodore) came to ACS in January of one of the coldest years in my memory. He had spent 7 years on a chain. He had never been a house dog, never really a part of someone’s family. When he came in, he was thin and frail, appearing far older than his 7 years. Our vet staff examined him and began treating him for a massive parasite load and malnutrition. We thought he would be an easy one to fix up and find a home for. About ten days after he came in, Teddy crashed hard. He was so sick he could barely stand. We started him on various meds and he seemed to bounce back. As sick and painful as he was, he had a certain spark. We said he had sunshine in his eyes. His sunshine gave us hope.
Our vet referred Teddy to the local university vet clinic where diagnostic testing revealed our worst fear. Our sweet Teddy bear had cancer. It was an aggressive form of lymphoma that could not be cured. Our staff decided that Teddy would spend his days living in as much luxury as we could give him. We gave him medication to control pain. Everyone took turns cooking meals for him, since dog food didn’t interest him. A couple that had fallen in love with him took him home for Valentine’s Day. That night he was given the biggest steak dinner they could buy. When they brought him back, he lived in the clinic behind the receptionist’s desk, on a big fluffy blanket with a big heart shaped pillow.
One Monday morning, when I came in to walk Teddy, he looked at me a little differently. While the love in his eyes was profound, it was clear that the sunshine had faded. He was ready to say goodbye. His ACS friends came and said goodbye. Teddy went to sleep surrounded by more love than he had ever known in his 7 years on a chain. We will never forget Teddy. He was with us for such a short time, only 5 short weeks. He has been gone now for almost 3 years, and yet I think of him daily.
Lymphoma is a very diverse disease. Approximately 20% of cancer found in dogs is a form of lymphoma. The prognosis often depends on the kind of lymphoma. Teddy’s lymphoma was advanced and sadly, we could do nothing but provide him with loving hospice care until it was time to say goodbye.
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