Screw you, Cancer. We won.

When I first met Winter the Borzoi over two years ago, I knew immediately that he had osteosarcoma. I'd been working with Greyhounds for a decade and I'd seen a lot of osteo. The night I picked him up I drove Winter straight to the vet They were able to make him comfortable and we discussed options.

Our vet was brutally honest about Winter's chances when we spoke that night. She said we'd be lucky to get 6 months and I said, I'll take it. Lucky-Smucky. Winter was a fighter and if he was up for it, we were with him all the way. If we only had six months, they would be a fantastic six months. We scheduled his surgery.

Winter's recovery was surprisingly smooth. We put him on a strict raw diet to inhibit the cancer and he flourished. He gained back all of the weight he'd lost, got glossy and shiny, and turned out to be a happy, sweet boy. When Winter's foster family adopted him a whole lot of people shed tears of joy.

We had our six months. And then another six. And another year. It was a beautiful run.

winter2Last night Winter went for a check up and we heard the words we knew would come someday. And it totally sucked. Remember when I said we'd take six months? Well, screw that. Apparently I lied. Two years wasn't long enough. Ten years wouldn't have been long enough. Cancer SUCKS!

But you know what? We won. Winter is LOVED. He lives in a house and gets to be a real dog. He gets to do all of the things he didn't get to do before the cancer. All of the things that cancer tried to steal from him.

And although it really hurts now that we know our time with him is coming to an end, giving him those two years of love was totally worth it. Today our hearts are with Winter's mom and dad because they're paying the price for that decision I made two years ago. We all are. But it was worth it. If you're crying today, please know that. Winter is LOVED, and he knows it. He is HAPPY.

It was worth it.

We won.

4 Responses

  1. He was given two more years of life and a good quality of life, I call that priceless! Be strong, he needs his humans the most now. 💕😢

  2. To Every one at SHUG and Winter’s family. With tears in my eyes I share your sadness. What a beautiful spirit and creature Winter is. As humans we cry because we don’t want our time together to end. Even though we will be together again it’s those years or decades in between that settle heavily on our souls. Winter has been a very lucky guy – you made the decision to give him six moths of joy. His family chose to open their hearts and take whatever time they could have with Winter. Every human who has had the divine joy of sharing their time with Winter is a better person for having had him in their life. This joyful boy came into the lives of those around him to teach things we didn’t know we needed to be taught. I know that as the end nears it gets soul suckingly harder (I’ve lost four furry loves to cancer- the last was my dearly beloved whippet). As the humans who love them one of the kindest gifts we can give them is to hold them in our arms and help them cross over to the next life when the time comes. My thoughts and prayers are with every one at SHUG and Winter’s family and of course for Winter. Winter is such an amazing spirit.

  3. Where to start? Thank you for loving Winter first and then finding a family to love him too. Winter looks so much like my borzoi Gus. I’m so sorry, yet so happy that you chose this path with him. A friend with a greyhound (he’s my greyhound Molly’s best dog friend) has not chosen this path and I look forward sadly to the dog leaving from osteo far too early. Thank you for being brave, all of you. And thank you for sharing this dear boy and continuing to do so. He will never leave, just move sometime to a new place. We’ll all be there someday.

  4. Over a decade ago, I received a surprise cancer diagnosis and had to have a hysterctomy. I’d never had major surgery before but having worked for a vet, and being a life-long pet owner, I’d seen the post-spay and post-caesarian behavior of countless dogs and cats. Nary a one seemed to be suffering. As I also knew, from various injuries, that I have a high pain tolerance, I did not expect my own “spay” to be much more than an inconvenience. Was I ever wrong! Therefore, I now think that pet owners can easily underestimate the amount of suffering their animals are undergoing. In the wild, there are no caregivers to feed and tend to an injured animal. If it shows its vulnerability, it is likely to fall prey to an observant carnivore, or a fellow herd member looking to eliminate competition. The year after my own surgery, I adopted a cheerful greyhound with a 3-month old hock rupture the adoption group had ignored. I had him at my own vet within the hour; a veterinary orthopedic surgeon performed an arthrodesis a few days later. Though he displayed some discomfort afterward, he generally hid it. He was on pain medication and had a fentanyl patch. During the periodic follow-ups necessary in the ensuing 8 weeks, I could hear him screaming from the treatment room as his stabilizers were adjusted. But when he was returned to me in the waiting room, he was his usual happy self. Though many years have passed, I am still not certain that it would not have been kinder to put him down than to put him through the 2 months of additional suffering he experienced before he was healthy again. In human medicine, it is accepted that bone pain is ranked high in terms of severity. When, a couple of years later, my other greyhound was diagnosed with OS, I decided against amputation. He was elderly, and a wimp. After just a couple of weeks on pain meds, he began to fail, and was euthanized. How to proceed when a pet has cancer or another serious medical problem is a very tough call. With a young dog, it’s even harder. I am glad that at least in Winter’s case, the price he paid gave him more than just a few months’ respite.

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