When my home phone rang, I was in the midst of a tumultuous conversation via text, completely absorbed in my own upset, with Beauford at my feet.
As soon as I heard the vet’s voice on my machine I instantly dove to pick up the phone. She’s been our family veterinarian since I was in my mother’s womb, [ironically kinder to me than my own mother] and I knew, as soon as she said “Hi”, that Beauford was sick, and that this was a battle we couldn’t possibly win.
Tears flowed freely, and my feet began to pace in efforts to catch up with the rapid thoughts within my mind. The precise details of the conversation escape me, since I felt an instantaneous rush of white noise, and like a part of my soul was rotting, quite literally dying inside me.
Beauford has a mass.
I remember, saying two things: “It’s bad” and “He’s going to die isn’t he”. These were statements of fact, not questions.
And with that I let out a loud sob, and fell to the floor. My legs just gave out.
In that moment the grieving began. Some say you only experience those 7 stages of grief when something or someone you love dies, but I can tell you as a matter of fact you experience a roller coaster of emotions; and you definitely travel in between those 7 stages as soon as hear a diagnosis like this.
I attempted to process what we knew so far. The mass was on his kidney and they weren’t sure whether it was malignant or benign, but even if it wasn’t cancer it was still a vicious beast threatening my 6 year old Golden Retriever’s life. At the moment the mass was “small”, but it’s proximity to the main vessel was dangerous. Too much pressure could mean it could cause the vessel to burst and he’d bleed out. He wasn’t in imminent danger, from what they could decipher, but the “beast” (as I now call it) isn’t something that stays sleeping. It’s going to grow, and it’s going to spread, and things will inevitably get nasty.
My head was filled with facts, my heart was filled with rage and hurt, and I had no idea what to do. I called my Dad first. I can only imagine how difficult it was for him to hear the pain, sorrow, and fear in my voice. The words came out of my mouth like water from a faucet “Beauford is going to die”He was devastated, and at a loss for words. Though I remember him telling me to hang in there, be strong for Beauford, and he reminded me that Beauford is a fighter. I have no doubt in my mind that after I hung up that phone he dissolved into tears himself.
My next call resulted in what I am quite certain was a gut wrenching voicemail for my then-boyfriend.
I then spoke to an amazing friend, someone who has been an unbelievable source of support in my recent travels in this journey called life. She was an ear, a great one, and someone that I am tremendously grateful for.
Then came the deafening silence as I struggled to find the strength to get off the floor.
All I could think was…How could I possibly wake up and have him not be here?
This dog is my world. We’ve been through everything together. I have sacrificed every ounce of savings, and a vast amount of credit, keeping his golden smile on his face. He eats a home cooked diet, and has to be hand-fed while sitting upright in front of me. He requires medication before meals, and gentle walks after to assist in motility and digestion. And without question, it’s all been worth it.
You see Beauford has esophageal dyspepsia (only one of his muscles works right in his esophagus – he can swallow food, but needs a second piece of food to push the first one through) , severe dog-food intolerance, and what’s thought to be a rare neurological condition that results in gastric seizures (for lack of a better term). This certainly is not his first veterinary health rodeo, but it will likely be his last.
Beauford came and laid at my side, resting his head in my lap. His eyes were filled with warmth. You see he has been there for me through it all, providing the ultimate comfort and his unconditional love. He has seen me through unfortunate relationships, vanishing friendships, medical crisis, vocational and financial stress. His first reflex was to comfort me. And I couldn’t love him more for it.
I realize I had to do something, anything, to get up and keep going. This dog saved my life, and now I had to do whatever I could to make every single second of our time together special.
The below is what I posted on social media sharing the details of the rest of our day. I am not sure I could write it better if I tried. It is raw, genuine, and written from the bottom of my heart.
“Yesterday after I got the news about Beauford I didn’t know what to do next. My golden child, my best friend, who absolutely saved my life, is sick.
I have idea how much time he has or even if there is anything we can do to save him. The prognosis though is not good.
I was quite literally in a heap on the floor crying. At the moment I have a plate full of challenges I need to overcome, and I told him he wasn’t allowed to be sick…i couldn’t possibly manage that too now…and he is.
Gutted is an understatement. Heartbroken doesn’t do it justice. I don’t have children, haven’t been lucky enough to do that, but I have Beauford. A dog that has taught me more valuable lessons in his short time on this earth than I learned in any school.
As I sat there yesterday, he looked at me…Beauford may know he sick, he may not. That is the shittiest thing about all this, he can’t tell me verbally how he feels. He isn’t acting sick, he is eating and drinking, and smiling and playing with his plethora of toys and loving his treats.
But the tumor is there. It is silent and I fucking hate that thing. Pardon my language, but that fucking thing is a viscous beast attacking and threatening the sweetest of souls.
So, I am sitting in a heap of sadness on the floor and he is looking at me with those eyes that melt your soul, wondering what’s up, and how he can comfort me. I knew in that moment I have to be strong, get up and keep going. But where to?
The answer was simple… Take him to Pet Valu to see our PV family. Let’s get this guy a treat. We got to store where I shared the news. There were hugs, tears and of course Beauford marched right to the beef bones at first chance.
I sat down in the store on the floor, not normal I know, and again attempted to process what I had just heard.
A young man with his dog was watching me and I said sorry, I know this is weird but I just found out he is sick and I don’t know what to do next.
He came over with his dog, and pet Beauford. I told him Beau had just started as a therapy dog, and how amazing he is.
As this young man shopped he kept looking at us, me still on the floor and Beauford still stealing licks on the bones.
When he was about to leave the handed Beauford his very own bone. He looked at me and said, I was where you are three years ago, I know how hard this is. And he said to Beauford, you are a good dog, and so loved.
I started to cry. He gave me a hug. And I said thank you.
I have no idea who this man is, but he is the epitome if of an animal lover. A kind and generous heart. He gave me the strength I needed to get up, and get through the afternoon. I am so thankful.
This is Beauford enjoying his treat.
And remember when someone is down, it doesn’t always take much to give them a hand up. Live each day with kindness in mind.
Our pv family is setting up a go fund me page to help me with costs and I can’t even begin to describe how thankful I am for that… So incredibly loving and kind.
Today, as I got up wondering how many more morning snuggles I have with Beauford I told him we are going to pay this forward. And I am going to make every day a little special for him.
We aren’t giving up…we are fighting with all our might and treasuring each and every moment.”