About 3 weeks before her birthday I found a lump on Annie’s left flank. I was immediately concerned and we went to the vet to have it evaluated. The pathology from the tissue sample was inconclusive but I noticed Maisie sniffing it so we made the decision to remove it along with another lump that was notated on her first visit. The waiting is the hardest part, and sure enough the lump on her hip was cancer but the other lump was not. Shit. Cancer. After everything else, now cancer! The diagnosis was so disheartening but the analysis showed that all of the cancer had been removed with no sign of spreading at this time, so we had caught it early. What a relief! We would need to continue to monitor her very carefully but the vet was optimistic about her prognosis. But then there was another concern. While she was in surgery she developed an irregular heartbeat. Occasionally this happens because of the anesthesia but considering Annie’s age, this was probably a sign that she was developing heart disease. We scheduled an EKG at the same time as her suture removal and hoped for the best. It seemed so unfair that this should come up after all that she had been through .
Her appointment happened to be on her birthday and I was planning on having a celebration for her that night. I went to the party store and got party hats and a big feather boa. I have never dressed up my dogs before, but it seemed perfectly appropriate for this occasion. I was going to buy a birthday cake from the doggie bakery in town but then decided that I would make her one. I had always made cakes for my kids on their birthdays and Annie deserved to have her own homemade cake as well.
When we got to the vet, Annie was completely relaxed. We walked in and she sat next to me while we waited. A young male tech came out to take her back and she got visibly upset. Up until now I had always requested female techs but I had forgotten to confirm that with this appointment. She did not want to go with him and climbed up next to me on the bench to get away from him. She was reminding me that although she was making great progress, she still had fears that needed to be soothed. I sat with her for a minute and calmed her and then I took the leash and walked her part of the way and then he took over and she was better. I heard her doctor greet her when she went around the corner so I knew she was in good hands. About 15 minutes later I went into the exam room and Annie was rubbing up next to her doctor. She immediately gave me the best news possible, Annie’s EKG was normal! She also did not hear any sign of a murmur so we decided to continue to monitor her very closely but I was very optimistic about her future. I know she’s at the twilight of her life, but I want her final months (or dare I hope, years) to be pain-free with minimal complications so that we can just enjoy our time together, however long that may be.
We had the party that night after dinner. I cut the cake into four pieces and placed it on a low table in front of her. She grabbed the first piece and loved it. Maisie took a piece for herself and they both took their time with their second pieces. These two have never had any food problems and once again, they shared with each other and watched each other enjoy their treats. I took lots of pictures and we had so much fun giving Annie her very first birthday party.
Recipe for Annie’s birthday cake: