We we left for CDA 4 months ago I was totally prepared that Baxter might not be coming home with us. We had a few hickups in the first week, but after that we all get settled in, I was able to come and go without stressing and everything was going great. Baxter's energy remained that of a normal 14yo Vizsla, making me laugh every night. Our determination to spoil him rotten has made his determination to get everything he wants even stronger... #parentfail
Dinner at the table with Baxter crying for whatever is on the plate (ugh, I know). Staring at the fridge and barking for more hot dogs. And when it's 8pm and I just want to sit on the couch and veg out for a few, he's throwing his destuffed baby around trying to get me to go to bed. Barking at every deer and wild turkey and showing off til no end for any visitor that comes to the door.
Oh, this boy....
Friday morning I got a text from Aunt Jen asking how he was (seriously, I have the best friends asking me for updates all the time. They KNOW he is my kid, not my pet) and I said, he's doing GREAT! I think we are bringing him home AND to Mexico!!
After work I left to go swim.... since I didn't have anything planned but prep my bike for the long workout in the morning I headed to get my atrocious looking toenails done for the first time since all my nails fail off post IMCDA, then grabbed some food to get my through the big training weekend.
When I got home, for some reason I didn't go straight into my room where Baxter stays. Juliette was barking so I got her out of the crate, then headed into the room. Baxter wasn't on the bed. Instant panic set in and I ran over to the side of the bed to see him laying there in the corner. I flew down to the floor to comfort him and immediately checked his gums. They were WHITE. I've been told this is one of the first signs I need to look for when something is wrong. It means that dogs are in pain and or bleeding. The prognosis of his cancer is that it's a cancer of the blood and it will spread to another organ, most likely his liver or lungs and at some point a tumor would grow and probably bleed out. There is no fixing it, it's just time...
I helped him get up and while he seemed a bit weak, he went outside, went to the bathroom and was alert. He was a bit wobbly, but still walking. I called a friend to see if I could get some help to get him to the emergency clinic, but no one was answering, so I got Juliette in her crate and got Baxter loaded into the truck. He was barely keeping his head up while he sat in the back seat, but the most concerning thing was he was calm and quiet. Baxter HATES being in the car. He pants and freaks out... He was just sitting there.
I got into the hospital and I don't even know what I said except he has cancer and his gums are white and I think it's time.
Bless the doctor's hear She was the same one that took care of us when we first got into town and Baxter's paws swelled up. She came down to the ground to him, so gentle. I sat there with Baxter holding his head, comforting him while they took a small amount of blood from his leg to check for anemia. She mentioned that sometimes if they are bleeding it might now show they are anemic right away and we may need to do an ultrasound. I expressed my concern in that we had decided no more tests, no extreme measures. He had been through enough.
When she came back in and said his blood was normal but that his heart sounded muffled, she really wanted to take a quick look with the ultrasound. She would bring the machine in and he wouldn't have to move. In my head I was picturing the big fancy thing that we had a specialist come in with where we had to pick him up, shave his belly, etc.... The doctor again was so gentle as she checked out his lungs and his heart (perfect). She explained to me what fluid would look like (black) and then she found something that could be fluid by his liver, but not free fluid all over.
Her recommendation was that yes, this could be a tumor that is bleeding, but it also could be something completely unrelated.... His was stable, and thought it would be best if I took him home where he would be comfortable. She assured me I could call with any questions, she would be there for 24hours.
As much as I wanted to be hopeful, I also know how attached I am to this boy and I didn't want to do something that would cause him any pain. I was ready to let him go. I had the doctor explain the situation to my amazing vet and friend at home so that I could have help. They both told me the same thing, he's not ready to leave me. God, it just makes me cry thinking about him. Holding on, fighting because he loves us so much!
While all of this was going on my phone was blowing up with returned calls from my panic calls. Shane, who had just gotten back to California prepping for probably the most important week (to date) of his career was pacing outside of his car deciding if he start driving 15 hours to say good bye, only to have to drive right back. I was scared for him, but we didn't have the resources to buy a $800 flight to get him home. I made a call to my friend who had offered the last time to get him on a flight with points, and within 20mins she had him driving to a near bye airport, a hotel booked and the first flight out in the morning.
My high school friend was already on her way with bags packed to be with me, and my local friend was ready with whatever I needed. We spent the night snuggling and trying to keep Baxter happy. But, to be honest, he was doing the same thing. He perked up when she got here with more hot dogs.
Steak for dinner???? YES PLEASE!
Sunday went pretty much the same only I had to get myself together and get some of my training in. My weekend was planned to be huge with 9hours of riding and 90' run.... After sleeping in then trying to hydrate and get some food in my system we took the dogs for a walk. Baxter struggled a little, but yet he was still all in!
We went to bed trying to get rest, but unfortunately I just couldn't sleep. I managed to get out for a run before we had to get Shane to the airport. Gosh that was hard. Coming home watching my best friend say good bye to my other best friend. These two have been in my life the exact same amount of time and they both have my heart. I was crushed, but unfortunately Shane had to go, Baxter had to let go and all I could do was watch.
We had a pretty good day yesterday. I had another wonderful friend come sit with Baxter so I could go swim. He ate like normal, barked at everything like normal and watched all the wonderful things happening out his favorite window.
We're now Tuesday morning, Bubba day #132. The amount of love, support and outpouring care and concern for me and my family right now is unreal. Unfortunately, I know we are on borrowed time just as I started to write this post Baxter got up wanting dinner. I fed him and for the first time he only ate the hot dogs.... worried, I offered him some turkey meat after and he took a bite, then shunned the rest of the way. He started doing circles around the house then laid down against the couch with some strained breathing. I grabbed my phone making my (once again) panic phone calls trying to figure out what to do. About 30' later he was resting in my arms, but comfortably and I had a friend coming over to help me take him in.
And, just like that in typical Baxter fashion as soon as the pretty blonde walked in the door he perked up, gave kisses, wagging his tail and more than ready for a treat. So here I am, sitting on the couch with him. He's resting comfortably, but I'm just trying to be the big kid here and take care of my boy. Everyone tells me he will let me know when HE is ready, and I'm just waiting for that. He's always trying to protect me, so unfortunately, I may need to be the one making the hard call this time. For now, I'm treasuring every second he's next to me.