Thoughts of a Dog Therapist – Jess Part 2

Back in episode 16 I spoke about the battle I had been facing getting Jess to eat. She had randomly gone off of any food and we had been doing everything we could to find out why.

Her blood tests had come back clear so we were told that it was likely to be a behaviour thing and to keep trying to get her to eat. I had communicated with her about it, other communicators had spoken to her about it and she was giving us symptoms but wasn’t telling us what was wrong.

We continued to battle, I was getting really stressed and angry with her for not eating and my relationship with her was suffering. She had dropped 3kg in 8 weeks and weighed nearly half of her original body weight. We did a urine test that showed that there was protein and blood in her urine so we sent her in to have scans and x-rays done and found that she has lymphoma. Her spleen, liver and right kidney all showed as being inflamed and we didn’t have a lot of options.

I had already prepared myself for this news  and I have always said that I wouldn’t put a dog through cancer treatment. I know all too well the length of treatment they would need to have and how long they would actually be expected to live for afterwards and I personally wouldn’t do it. Our vet agreed with me on the phone and told me that if it was his dog he wouldn’t do it either and I was convinced I was going to have to make the decision to put her to sleep that afternoon. He then told me that there was another option…. we could try her on steroids and see how she went. She would need to be on two steroids a day, and as long as she started to eat it could buy us a few extra weeks with her or it could buy us a year, there was no way to tell.

I questioned the reason he was offering me this option. I’m a big believer that we shouldn’t extend an animals life for our own benefit so if he was only offering this to give me an opportunity to get used to the idea of saying goodbye then there was no way I was going to go down that route. He assured me that he was offering this because it is what he would do if it was his own dog, once he said that I knew I had to give her that chance.

It took a couple of days for her to start eating, she still wasn’t eating loads but it was something. She also still wanted to do everything that she normally did and was her normal self but she didn’t seem to want to be around me. She was fine with Kev but as soon as I went near her she would move. I started to get really upset by this, I’m ashamed to say I made it all about me. How was I going to cope knowing that my girlie didn’t want to know me in what could be the last weeks or months of her life? I thought she hated me and couldn’t work out why, so I asked her and her reply was shocking!

She told me that I know she doesn’t like to be fussed over, I’ve told enough people exactly that over the years she’s been with us, but now here I was fussing all the time. She said she preferred to be with Kev because he treated her normally and let her be herself, there was no pressure with him. When she was with me I was constantly asking if she was ok and looking at her with pity, I was crying and making a big deal out of it and wouldn’t stop offering me her food! She said she just wanted to be treated normally rather than being treated like she was dying. I basically got a telling off from my dog and it was a massive wake up call.

I took everything she said on board and took a step back from her. I gave her the steroids every day and then let her go to work with Kev and left them to it. He started to send me videos of her eating while they were out and I stopped forcing food on her and just allowed her to eat what she wanted, when she wanted.

That diagnosis occurred nearly 4 weeks ago and she is still doing well. Some days she eats more than others and her weight still isn’t great but in general she’s doing okay. Our relationship is back to how it used to be as well. She wags her tail at me and follows me around the house, she allows me to cuddle her and even gives me kisses occasionally so for now all is good in the life of Jess.