11 December 2013 10.00 AM -1 F Clear and sunny
I was in the middle of writing a blog entry (no, honestly I was) last week continuing my moans about the weather and conditions. As it had been a few weeks since my previous entry, I can forgive the sceptical amongst you about my productivity.
Since that post, we did indeed get some snow, one big dump of about 14 inches, and a good few days of very cold and we had finally managed to get the team out using the sled several times. All seemed good and as we were ahead of our training schedule, I was feeling quite optimistic. And then of course, Mother Nature decided to intervene. After our week of -35 F nights, it got warm. In the course of just over 24 hours we went from -30 to 30 F, a swing of 60 degrees. And then, it started raining – which froze as soon as it touched anything. Everything was coated in a thick layer of ice and that made moving around very tricky. This warm spell went on for a few days, and was accompanied for a good spell of it by a low mist that just made the already dull winter day seem incredibly dreich.
The trails became a bit less than ideal – in which the definition of ideal is ” covered in snow and not water”. So, decided we’d take a mid-season break and hope that the conditions would improve soon.
And in the midst of all this came, “the reminder”. The reminder to enjoy every moment, to take nothing for granted and to ensure that those in your life always know how appreciated and valuable they are.
Last Friday, Takeo enjoyed his usual morning romp followed by breakfast. At that point, things started going sideways. He decided to have a lie down, after everyone was turned loose. At this point normally, I patrol the exercise yard with poop bucket and shovel, accompanied by a crew of supervisors. After a while, I noticed that Takeo was still lying in front of his house, and taking no interest in the proceedings. He seemed very lethargic so we decided he should come into the house and be monitored. His temperature was normal, colour was good and he seemed well hydrated. As the day went on, his condition deteriorated and we took him to our vets, who thankfully managed to see him.
After a great deal of poking and prodding and being hooked up to every machine at the practice, our big boy was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma on his heart. This was causing blood to leak into his pericardium, causing a pericardial effusion which can lead to cardiac tamponade. Additionally, based on his bloodworks and other symptoms, it seems the tumour has metastised to some of his other organs. Of course, the vet is explaining all this to me as I sit by Tak’s side, stroking his head and trying to take it all in and understand what she is saying, what it means and also, equally what she isn’t saying. As the hours passed, the rest of the staff left to go home, leaving me with our vet and the 3 vet techs who were working on Takeo. An empty and quiet vets’ surgery is a strange place. With his diagnosis in place, I was confronted with a stark choice – do nothing and he will likely die within a few hours, drain the blood from the pericardium and run all of the resultant risks associated with sticking a needle into a small space very close to his heart. The vet was very clear about all of the likely outcomes – most of which were pretty negative, but it did also give him his only chance of surviving the night. The overall prognosis is still not good, there is no long term, medium term is pushing a few weeks and most likely he has not got very much time left. However, the procedure went brilliantly, she drained a lot of blood from around his heart and immediately his heart rate started to slow down and he appeared much less distressed.
He came home with me on Friday night and is currently occupying a large dogbed in the corner. He has adapted to life as a house dog easily and we are so grateful that we get to spend these last few days and weeks with him. He tires easily but does instigate play with some of the house dogs, all of whom seem a little overawed at his size. For all of his ailments and problems, he doesn’t appear to be suffering or in distress.
Takeo is only 10, I always imagined we had years yet with him. This was my reminder. Cherish every moment.