A Story of Three Battles

So some of you have noticed, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. It’s been a very rough couple of months for me, and I’m still reeling from it.

Sometime midsummer I caught one of those summer colds that everyone dreads. Only it wasn’t a cold. It evolved into bronchitis and the doc ended up giving me an antibiotic and two different inhalers to help with that.

But even with all that, it hung on through September, and the doc told me if it didn’t die soon, to see an allergist.

Eventually it did die, albeit at a glacial pace… but then I found myself in the throes of a battle with a local newspaper who back in May had asked me to return as a contributing writer due to popular demand in a recent survey they had taken amongst their subscribers.

I accepted the offer, but at the end of July when I still hadn’t been paid, I asked about payment, and was given a contract to sign. The editors hadn’t mentioned the contract at the initial offer, and the contract stated that the new owners of the paper would now also own my image and all my work, “in the universe and in perpetuity.”

It was like they’d hired Pee Wee Herman to write it up for them. I ran the contract past a friend of mine who happens to be an attorney, and he noticed it said nothing about being paid once it was signed. Besides, I knew there were other contributing writers that had never signed the contract and were getting paid without a problem. My friend recommended small claims court.

After giving the new owners a deadline to pay me and a promise of a trip to small claims if they chose to ignore it, I was paid in two days… but it was the end of my gig as a contributing writer with them.

Once the payment crisis had passed, I relaxed and figured I would start writing on the blog again. I had been planning to write an update about my dog Ms. K, who’s popular with my readers. In fact, I received a few requests for an update on her, and I was eager to get that overdue update out there.

Well now it was September, and she had been licking a hot spot on her back thigh. Ms. K’s always had a habit of licking, it’s one way she comforts herself when she’s anxious.

Only she’s never had hot spots. Not one, in the seven years we’ve been acquainted. She’s fourteen now.

The vet took one look and said, “That’s not a hot spot.” She took a sample and sent it in. The results were inconclusive, due to damaged cells that were in too poor a condition to get a definitive diagnosis.

A few days later, a friend who was visiting noticed a big round lump in Ms. K’s thick orange coat, on the right side of her neck. It looked as if a golf ball was pushing through from the inside.

I figured that was what the hot spot thing was before Ms. K started chewing on it, so the vet took a new sample and sent it in to be analyzed. I knew the news wouldn’t be good. Anything that grows that fast couldn’t possibly be good.

I was right.

Ms. K was quickly scheduled for surgery to remove the two masses. I was a mess at work that day, because 14-year-old dogs don’t always survive surgery.

But Ms. K did.

The masses were sent in for analysis, and after a week, I got a call from the vet. It was cancer, and they didn’t get it all. They couldn’t. There was nothing more they could do, and the doctor told me that the masses would eventually start growing on her internal organs, making her breathing difficult, and eventually impossible.

The doctor apologized that it wasn’t better news, and I thanked him for everything.

I was worried that I would be filled with sadness when this point of Ms. K’s life came, but the truth is it has been just the opposite.

I am aware of every single moment of our time together, striving to make it full of as much love and quality as I possibly can. After all, if I were the one with just a short time left, I surely wouldn’t want everyone around me to be constantly in tears.

So we go to the dog park more often now, every chance we get. And Ms. K can eat whatever she wants, and she gets a whole lot more ear scratches and belly rubs. We hug a lot, and I tell her how much I love her.

I take a lot of pictures now, of her just doing regular dog stuff, like when she’s peacefully sleeping beneath me as I’m paying bills, reading in bed or writing, like she is right now. Pictures while we’re on a walk and she’s backtracking to sniff a smell she missed, or at the dog park when she’s romping through the tall grass as she loves to do. Yes, she still romps at fourteen. And you should see her Happy Dance when I’m home from work!

Sure, there’s tears. After all, Ms. K has been there for me for the last seven years, and she’s meant so much to me. She’s so much more than just a dog, or a pet. She’s probably the best friend I have ever had, canine or not. And it’s pretty tough to lose a best friend.

So here we are, gentle reader. I’m sorry the update doesn’t have better news. But you know what? Ms. K and I are gonna make the very best of these last days together. You know… like you should every day, but you don’t?

Yep, we’re gonna kick the shit out of it. Just like you should, too. Because none of us knows how much time we have left.

So make those days count.

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