Profiles in Pain & Love: Part II

Clancy in the truck for an adventure with Dad.

This is my Clancy. He turned 12 on October 4, 2021.
My parents had his parents, Logan and Libby, so he’s been part of our lives since his first moments.

Logan was a laid back and groovy guy who loved sitting in water and was known to catch cicadas and carry them buzzing around in his ample jowls. Libby was high energy, go go go, butterfly chasing girl who, when inside, had to be told again and again to go lay down as she just needed to move all the time. Still, a very sweet girl.

Our Clancy, thankfully, is a mellow fellow. We know some of his siblings were on the go-go side. He had a distended naval when he was born, so other people didn’t want to take him knowing he’d have to have this very minor surgery right off the bat. Praise the Lord. He is my dog. He is perfect.

He is a snuggler and wants to be in on the action when we’re playing with Larkin. I think this is 80% not wanting to miss out on any loving and 20% protecting the baby. I thought it was more like 97%-3% until he tried to bite my Dad’s ankle when he was playing a Jaws Theme Song-themed game with our Baby Girl. (Clancy is NOT a biter.) Oops.

Clance has a lot of “lumpy bumpys” (as I call them). Almost all of them are lipomas, or fatty tumors. I had to look up the name again just now because I never remember it. These are really common in dogs. I have one, too, as life would have it. It’s been on my abdomen since I was in high school. I worried it might be a problem when I was pregnant, but it wasn’t, and it’s still there. Clancer’s are all over. The biggest one is on his belly and is noticeable even when he’s shaggy in the winter like he is now. I try to generally keep track of them so I can tell the vet about anything new when we go to visit her.

He had a bump on the back of his neck that was hard instead of mushy feeling, so we probed that one, oh, a year and a half or two years ago now. The conclusion was “we don’t know what it is, but we know what the ‘bad stuff’ is, so I think we can just watch it.” It has actually shrunk some. Clancy had a bump on one of his “elephant skin” elbows last year that I worried about because it seemed to bother him, but that, too, went away after awhile.

The vet has been monitoring his liver levels–this I don’t even know how to look up. Some enzyme (or something) levels have been increasing over the past few years, that most likely indicate he’s getting older and isn’t a major issue. We had him taking some supplements for several months, but they didn’t make a big difference.

Two–two and half years ago he had an ultrasound done on his spleen because the vet told me it seemed a bit enlarged. He really did not enjoy this process, but I am extra grateful now that it happened when it did instead of during curb-side-vet-dropoff. I was able to be in the clinic with him and comfort him while he was forced to be on his back so his belly could be shaved and scanned. Again, nothing seemed to be wrong.

Clancy Pants has never been a rush-to-the-bowl scarf-down-food-before-someone-else-gets-it dog. He will eat his food immediately if he’s staying at my folks’ or his cousin Jamie will eat his too. So we’ve never worried too much about his eating patterns. Frequently it’s been clear he was really hungry but really just needed his people to be home before he could eat–checking to be sure we’re all here and okay, then running to his bowl to eat his breakfast twelve hours later.

Artwork by Bob Hall, commissioned by my husband as a gift. I titled it Sidekicks.

Last week though, his not eating seemed off. His Sunday morning breakfast was still there on Monday night when he ate a little bit of it. The rest of Sunday morning breakfast was still there on Tuesday night and he wasn’t interested in going outside or having a treat. So I called the vet. It turns out they are open late on Tuesdays and actually answered to my surprise, and we set an appointment for 10:30 the next morning.

Wednesday I was up crazy early with my girl and when she went back to sleep at 4:30, I didn’t. I was lying in bed, simply awake. And I thought, “Hey, God…I’m super awake here and all I can think about is work. Am I supposed to be awake right now?” And I just thought, Get up and work then! So I cleared a good space at the table and steeped my tea and sat down to work about 5:00am. Around 6:00, I heard a weird sound and went to check on Larkin. Wasn’t her. Sitting back at the table I heard it again. It turned out I was hearing my Clancy’s guts working from the living room, gurgling and murmuring loud enough to be heard from the next room. So, I laid on the floor snuggling My Bug for a while. In that time, I found a new lumpy bumpy on his neck.

So Fancy Clancy and I went to visit Dr. Olsen on Wednesday morning. My SnuggleBug was ready for the car ride, though he has to ride in the way back of the Subaru these days because of the car seat situation. Not so excited to see we’d arrived at the vet, but he is an ideal patient and always really calm and still for them.

I talked through what has been happening with the vet tech, and she talked to Clance and took his vitals.

While we waited for her to come back with the vet, I was scrolling Facebook on my phone and learned devastating news of my friends’ young child “preparing for her next adventure” as her mother beautifully put it. So, Dr. Olsen arrived to ask “how we are doing today” as I was sobbing, and I had to explain we’re okay, I am just heartbroken for my friends…

We went through all of Clancy’s behaviors and lumpy bumpys again with Dr. Olsen. She was pretty concerned about the new one on his neck, so we agreed pulling some cells to look at them under the scope was a good idea. And, oh my heart, she came back to tell me that Clancy “very likely has lymphoma” but we should send the slides out to another lab to confirm. She gave My Boy a saline shot with some medication in it to help with nausea and dehydration. That helped him come back to more of himself, so I returned to pick up a week’s worth of the oral version to be sure he keeps eating and drinking. I have to be very careful about that lymph node as he cries out if I accidentally bump it.

On Friday, Dr. Olsen called me back to tell me it’s not lymphoma. It has metastasized from somewhere else. Metastatic cancer. So now there are decisions to be made–do we do a bunch of testing to find where it’s metastasized from? We could probably assume one of the many lumpy bumpys wasn’t as innocent as the others. Do we take Clancy to see an oncologist at Kansas State University and pursue cancer treatment? Do we just go back to Dr. Olsen and talk about what we can do so Clancy just feels as good as possible without treatment?
I do know this: He would love going on the trip to Kansas. He would hate the treatment, whatever it is.

Clancy. Fancy Clancy. Clance. Clancer. Baby Boy.
My Boy. Mr. Bo Jangles. Jangles.
Clancy the Wonder Dog. Snuggle Bug.
Love Bug. Bugaboo. My Bug. Bug.

So much pain.
So much love.
So much heartbreak.
Because So. Much. Love.

My Boy, My Clancy is composed of 75% love, 10% fur, 5% ears, and 5% fear of thunder and fireworks. He’s the most perfect sidekick and an absolute gift from God. He’s been by my side for 12 1/2 years. He’s been next to me as I navigated a few layers of hell in the past decade. He’s been there when everything has been wonderful. He’s always there. I cannot imagine life without him there.

I don’t know what to do.

2 thoughts on “Profiles in Pain & Love: Part II

  1. This is so sad, but I know you will do what you believe to be best for Your Boy, because that’s what Love does.
    I’m so sorry you are facing these tough decisions concerning Clancy. I pray for peace to guide you through this.


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