If we get up at six a.m., make coffee to go, feed the cat and hurry on to the interstate, we can make it to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis, for a ten a.m. appointment.
Miga will have blood drawn and give a urine sample. These will be checked for red and white blood counts and liver values. She will be examined and weighed and her tumor will be measured. All the procedures will take two to three hours.
We leave the clinic for a while to have something to eat and sit outside in the fairly nice winter day.
Back at the clinic, we peruse the magazines in the waiting room and talk to others who bring their companions to the oncology department. Other animals are there as well, birds, rabbits, cats. A snake was there once and yesterday a man brought his rat. The people bring their pets in because they care about them. Veterinary services are expensive, even in a teaching hospital.
The room felt especially tried and sad yesterday, like hope was on a vacation. A boy came in the waiting room with his mother and a beautiful Golden Retriever service dog.
We learned from the mom that the boy, Steven, was an autistic nineteen year old, and that before the dog, Max, was in his life, Steven had given up on living. At six years old he was in an institution, not eating or doing anything, except maybe banging his head on the wall. Max came to be his friend and changed Steven. He started wanting to live. He had a companion who connected with him, who understood him.
About three weeks ago, it was found that Max had a six pound tumor on his spleen. The tumor has been removed, but cancer being the terrifying monster it is, still threatens to raise it’s ugly head on Max.
Steven’s mom said, “This dog has to live. He is the reason Steven is alive.” She had to drive an hour longer than we did to get to Davis as she lives in Fernley, NV.
It was heart breaking to see how much they depend on Max. Max is a fully trained Search and Rescue dog. He kept Steven from being lost. Even with door alarms, Steven could escape his house and wander the streets. Max’s collar was fitted with a GPS device so Steven’s mom could always find him.
Cancer is a terrible, heart wrenching, hope draining illness. How much sadder, how much worse, when the life of a young person depends on the life of his dog.