Sunday, November 28, 2010


It's not the best kept secret that I love my two big Labradors, and will go to great lengths to keep them safe, healthy and happy. While it has cost me a lot sometimes to do so (financially, of course, but also emotionally), they have given me back orders of magnitude more in companionship, laughter and steadfast love. They're older dogs (9 and almost 11), and they've had their share of medical challenges. They are both, however, bright, shiny, bouncy dogs who eat like Hoovers (well, they are Labs), fling tennis balls for themselves if I'm otherwise engaged, act like a walk around the neighborhood is a trip to Disney, and curl up on the bed with me at night. Grey around the muzzles, yes, but robust and healthy.

On a routine check up, their vet recently found a mass in Cara's left eye. A big one, that had not been there six months earlier, so growing relatively rapidly and causing secondary inflammation. He mentioned enucleation (to be blunt, removal of the eye itself), and I broke down in tears. Referred to a canine opthamalogist, I heard the same thing from her. There just aren't a lot of options when it comes to things growing in the eye, and all things considered, it's not a BIG surgery. No tissue is really cut, pain is minimal and well controlled, and dogs adapt quite readily to being one eyed. I understand all these things, and realize that yes, this is the correct thing to do for this dog I love.

The closer I get to her surgery date (later this coming week), the more my heart breaks over it. I am (justifiably) afraid of what the mass actually IS, which we won't know until the pathology report comes in, and what that could mean for her overall health and future. And I'm worried that she'll be disoriented and confused. But what brings me to tears every time I look at her is knowing that those big brown eyes I've looked into every day for almost 11 years will not both be there. Her beautiful, expressive face will be changed forever, and I cannot really articulate how devastating I find that.

Spare a kind thought for all of us this week, if you can. Cara is sure to be uncomfortable and agitated. And I am going to be afraid that I'm taking apart the dog I love.

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