She started limping two months back. Three visits to our regular vet yielded no definitive diagnosis. We were now faced with the decision of whether to spend a bunch of money to take Nell to a specialist and have another series of xrays and perhaps an MRI. We decided that the need to know outweighed all of the old paradigms of not spending that kind of money on a pet.
Certainly I was brought up in a household (a farm family) where dogs got minimal vet visits, and never an expensive one. It was more expedient and economical to put the dog down, rather than to spend money that might help one of my siblings or myself go to college or to put food on the table. And, because I have lived a life of a large degree of frugality, it was hard to cross that line into the extravagance of lavishing large sums on a dog. But this was not just any dog.
Nell came to us a bit over six years ago as a 10 week old yellow lab puppy. We’d decided that we were at the end of a long series of dogs in our lives after the previous Husky/Shepard mix, Sheba, lived a long life, but left us miserable when she died. But six months without a dog found us looking at the ads for a lab puppy, a breed we’d never had in our household, and one we wanted to experience. If anyone had warned us of the dozens of gloves, shoes and various other loose objects that would become joyful fodder for those puppy teeth, we may have decided differently. Thank Creator that no one gave us that warning.
Yesterday I took Nell to Veterinary Specialists of Rochester for further xrays of her spine, and if necessary (it was), an MRI of her back end. The news was not pretty. Nell has a cancerous mass in her pelvis, untreatable. After Mary and I dried each others tears, we picked Nell up last night and began the process of enjoying what days we have left with her, of making her comfortable, of continuing to connect with a spirit that Creator has blessed and honored us with having as such an important part of our lives. Truly, this dog is gorgeous physically. Folks who are fortunate to know Nell also know that her spirit and personality are even more attractive.
I just came in from an hour and a half out sitting in my tree stand, looking to see if there were any deer out there. It really hit home for me that I didn’t know if I could shoot a deer if one presented itself to me with all that has occurred in the last 24 hours. As I climbed into my tree stand, I lifted up an old blanket that was on the floor, one that I keep there for really chilly days to wrap up in. I was greeted by three field mice looking rather dismayed as they scurried off in different directions, one up my arm, one up onto the inside corner of the roof. I settled myself into the seat of the tree stand after a few moments, and that lone mouse clinging to the ceiling kept staring at me with those big mouse eyes, a slight shake to his body. I kept thinking of Nell, and several times I held my hand out to Mr. Mouse. I figured he had to be getting tired clinging there sideways on this wall. Finally he accepted my offer of a hand, and promptly jumped from my hand to the floor and disappeared. I enjoyed my quiet time remaining in the stand, not bothered by any passing deer, only the crows and geese flying over, the seasons first snow slowly melting into the earth, and left to feel my feelings in a place of connection with All of Creation.
The news isn’t all bad. We made the right decision in getting Nell diagnosed. We have some time left on this journey with her, we just don’t know how much time. And we have been given a special gift that only comes along once or twice in a lifetime, the gift of connecting with a Spirit so special as to affect me to the center of my being. Nyaweh for the gifts, Creator!