We must be brave for Susie-Belle
This isn’t the post I’d wanted to write for Schnauzerfest Week, but life’s unkind at times so here we are, writing the saddest post I’ve ever had to put together. We found out yesterday that Susie-Belle has what looks very like a tumour in her nasal space eating into the bone.
Over the past couple of weeks she’s been drinking excessively and has one-sided nasal discharge. Initially the vet needed to rule out obvious urinary things, and diabetes, Cushings etc. All her bloods last week came back good, and a week of antibiotics for the nasal discharge didn’t make much difference. She went downhill a bit over the weekend and was extremely lethargic. Yesterday the vet investigated further, and with the symptoms she has it looks likely to be a lymphoma. Our usual vet is on maternity leave, and so we’re under a locum, who thankfully is brilliant. He completely seems to ‘get’ me, I’m one of those people who want to know what’s being done, or considered, and to be involved. More importantly he’s understanding of Susie-Belle’s background, and all the various other factors that are so important at a time like this with our pets in order for us to make the right decisions. We could not have asked for that bit of good luck at a time that feels terrible.
While we could investigate further and get a definitive diagnosis, unless we’re then prepared to do the treatment, which would most likely be a combination of radiotherapy, possibly surgery, and chemo, there seems little point in us spending the next few weeks in and out of vet hospitals and Susie-Belle being stressed and upset with each stage.
We decided a while ago that should any of our dogs be diagnosed with cancer, we will not put them through endless treatment. And in Susie-Belle’s case, it’s not been a hard decision, although the reality is hard to face and dreadfully upsetting. But, we’re committed to her being out and about enjoying each day if that’s what she wants to do. Her life was spent in confinement for years, she suffered horribly and we are never going to do anything that will involve her suffering, even in the slightest way. We will make sure her last days, weeks, and we hope months are still ones of freedom and love and doing as she wants. The vet guided us well, laid out all options clearly, honestly and agrees 100% with our decision for Susie-Belle.
She’s not going anywhere yet though as she will begin steroid treatment, which the vet thinks she’ll do well on. She’s a courageous fighter and isn’t in any pain and we’ll make sure she stays that way. We’ll take her through the next few months (we hope) just as we have the last 4 years – happily and making the most of each day.
I’m terribly sad right now, and feel that life can be damn unfair. Susie-Belle has shared four wonderful years with us and we hope will continue to do so for some little while yet. We cannot allow sadness to overwhelm us right now, Susie-Belle doesn’t know she’s ill, we will keep it like that for her. Twinkle relies heavily on her for comfort, and much of my sadness comes also from knowing what this will mean for her and Renae. Renae was 9 months old when her sister joined her world and they’ve been close friends from day one. But, they all need us to stay strong around them. Life will carry on for Susie-Belle as long as she’s enjoying it.
She’s been my wonderful companion for the past four years, the dog who has changed the direction of my life, inspired me to write three books and campaign for a better world for dogs and this I will continue. This, the week of Schnauzerfest is a poignant time for this diagnosis to hit us, as it is Susie-Belle who inspired me to put forward the idea last year for the first time. And it’s with her and Twinkle and all the other thousands of dogs like them in the forefront of my mind, that I spend my time playing my part in making Schnauzerfest a success.
Susie-Belle’s life and health was saved by the dedication of the DBARC team and they trusted me to bring her into our lives. It’s her special character that we’ve had the privilege to see blossom with the background support of DBARC along the way that leads me to devote myself to helping them continue their work, to offer other dogs and humans the chance to experience the love we do with Susie-Belle. Although sadness is the dominant emotion I feel right now, and my heart is physically hurting as I face the reality of her leaving us, I don’t want that to affect Schnauzerfest. When tears fall, I focus on celebrating what is already a successful cooperative effort by many, and know that this is down in no small part to Susie-Belle’s secret magic driving many to do better for the dogs in many and varied ways.
If you would like to support the work of DBARC, the Schnauzerfest fundraising link can be found here.