Posts Tagged ‘dog cancer


Carpe Dogum

Mr. Blue gives his last speech June 12, 2014.

Mr. Blue gives his last speech June 12, 2014.

Last week was a week filled with unbelievable highs and lows. I had three very important speeches. One was just me, one with our Chief Excitement Officer (CEO) Ruby Red, and one with our Chief Motivational Hound, Mr. Blue. In the middle of the week Mr. Blue had an oncology appointment to get another chemo treatment. Unfortunately the doctor determined that his blood count was too low and postponed the treatment to the following Monday. Mr. Blue never made it to that appointment.

Determined to fill his prior speaking engagement, Mr. Blue mustered up the strength the very next day to go and share with a group of tremendous seniors at the Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries’ Cumberland Crossings Senior Living Community, sharing pawsome hound wisdom such as Stop Playing Dead and Old Dogs Must Learn New Tricks.

As the senior citizen in the group, in his 90s by human years, Mr. Blue was received with great respect and warmth by this group of seasoned humans. They understood exactly where he was coming from. They were excited about continuing to hear, learn, and think new things, just like Mr. Blue! They spent time petting and talking with my soul dog despite the fact that he was not feeling his best and couldn’t dispense his world-famous kisses.

Growing up, my father, the late, great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, told me upon crossing each milestone birthday that the current decade was far better than the previous one. And he didn’t just say it, he lived it. This is one of the main reasons that I embrace growing bolder, not older, and wiser with each passing day. After all, the more seasoning you have, the more you can flavor the earth.

Whenever someone would tell my father they had retired he would tell them “Don’t talk so stupid!” His reasoning was that if we are still on this earth, there’s a purpose we are meant to fulfill that goes way above and beyond a life lived solely for leisure.  I watched him on his hospice death bed, so frail from the ravages of cancer, yet scribbling notes for me to send to people and calling for friends to come and read to him. You see, we are all terminal, and if that doesn’t amp up your urgency to live life to the fullest, your spirit is already dead. We ought to go to our graves like prunes: spent, wrinkled, and shriveled.

So as I came down from the high of three amazing speeches, I ended the week with Mr. Blue taking a very pronounced and rapid turn for the worse. Friday night his legs gave out and by Saturday morning his breathing was labored and his awareness gone. And just like my father had done over five years ago, Mr. Blue finished the race strong, right up to the last minute. I held him in my arms for one last kiss, and he dispensed four of his powerful licks as if to say, “Thank you for finishing this with me!” before slipping away.

My father always told me he wanted to pass to Heaven while he was on the stage speaking. While the setting was different—a hospice bed and a cancer-ravaged shell of a body instead of a stage with a physical presence larger than life—what he was doing was not. He shared and enriched the lives of others right up to his last breath. And I am humbled and thankful, and not in the least bit surprised, that his granddog would triumphantly bound onto the other side just as victorious!

Carpe Diem; Carpe Dogum. Drink deeply from the water bowl of life right up until your last pant!


You Can’t Keep A Good Dog Down

Good DogThis past week I faced one of the greatest challenges I have ever had to deal with. My soul dog, Mr. Blue, has battled lymphoma for the past nine months and, for the third time, he is out of remission. The doctor said he wasn’t strong enough to begin his fourth drug protocol and sent him home for three days with steroids to get his strength up. It didn’t help. His platelets were too low and he was still in an anemic state. In a private room, the doctor told me that Mr. Blue was too weak and tired to continue treatment and was likely to go downhill fast. He advised me to spend the next few days with him and prepare to make every dog owner’s worst decision. Sobbing, I looked at my sweet boy and agreed. Mr. Blue was tired the disease was obviously taking its toll.

Somehow I made the 90-mile drive back home. I called work and asked them to notify Peaceful Pet Passage for an at-home euthanasia on Wednesday at 3 pm knowing full well that I couldn’t make the arrangements myself without losing it. I cleared my schedule for the next two days. That night was filled with the most painful emotions I’ve ever felt. One moment I would relish the life Blue and I had lived together and the next I would fall into overwhelming despair trying to fathom how I would go on without him. Mr. Blue has been my constant companion for thirteen years, ever since the day I picked him up as an abandoned five-week-old pup. I tried not to cry as I was sure that Mr. Blue could sense my grief.

That night I posted the news on Facebook to the thousands of people and animals touched by Mr. Blue over the years. Many have followed his journey from the start and were pulling for him, just as distraught as I was. The following day began a long and beautifully touching succession of visits, texts, calls, and messages as people offered their support and prayers.

That same day Mr. Blue also began a miraculous turnaround. He ate breakfast. He ate a second breakfast. He ran around the house as people came to see him. He ate lunch. He played with his toys. He was alert and he probably gave me close to a thousand strong kisses. Earlier I had asked God to just keep him comfortable and happy on that final day so I could always cherish the memory. I really thought this was his final rally before we said goodbye.

That night, Mr. Blue came even more alive. At dinner time he ate another plate of food, and then another. He even had treats before he went to bed. I was perplexed. I have never lost a dog before but I have always been told that I will know when it’s time to say goodbye. I couldn’t shake the growing feeling that this was not his time.

Mr. Blue was out of remission and the clock was ticking, but was this his time? I went to bed and prayed for discernment, for some kind of sign. I also made one last decision. I wrote his obituary earlier that day, trying to keep myself sane and occupied as the hours ticked by. I reopened the document and deleted the date: May 21st, 2014.

When I awakened the next morning morning Mr. Blue was already downstairs in the kitchen with the other dogs waiting for his breakfast. This wasn’t just a last-minute rally; Mr. Blue was back! I couldn’t go through with the euthanasia when he was in such high spirits.

I called the oncologist to see if there was any way they could immediately reevaluate Mr. Blue’s condition. I felt certain that if Blue had been this way 48 hours earlier, he would have been able to get his chemo. I just had to know what Blue was telling me. The clinic squeezed him in although they said his condition was grave and they were not optimistic.

Peaceful Pet Passage was fine with the cancelation (they said this happens all the time and were very supportive) and we made the long trek back to the clinic. Mr. Blue was a different dog when he walked through that door. He had his spunk back. His blood work and white blood cell count were good, but his platelets were still low. There were two options: go with the chemo which, in his current state, could kill him; or decline the chemo and make him as comfortable as possible until the end. I went with option one. We were not going to lose the battle to cancer unless we had exhausted every opportunity.

Mr. Blue received his chemo and we began the journey home. I immediately let his legion of adoring fans know the good news and they rejoiced! I felt a tremendous peace knowing that, with this chemo, we had truly done everything we could and the rest is in God’s hands. And while we are definitely not out of the woods, today was another great day for him at work as people came by to see the miracle mutt. He even had a big dinner with an Angus burger for desert. Next Wednesday we’ll know if Mr. Blue is back in remission. Until then, we keep our paws crossed and we stay prayed up.

This roller coaster of a week reinforced three critical life lessons for me:

1)      Trust your heart and trust your gut. If the timing of something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Wait. Take time for quiet reflection and pray for discernment.

2)      It ain’t over til it’s over. As Helen Keller said, “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” You’ll know when it’s time to say goodbye or to let something or someone go. Until then, keep overcoming. Keep fighting.

3)      The power of prayer and pawsitivity. My life is a testament to the power of prayer and of God’s continuous unfolding of His tremendous plan for me. To see that He included my best four-legged companion in these plans takes our relationship to a whole new level! And why not? He knows even when the sparrow falls.

So remember, if you’re going through some ruff stuff, keep the faith! In the end it’ll be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but this divine canine has taught me to live in the moment and I am furever grateful for each and every moment that we share.

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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April 2020

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