Last night I received a phone call from my parents that our family dog, Moose has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Without chemotherapy the first dog our family has ever had, the one I purchased just after 9/11 when I couldn't find my first job out of college, after the first classmate I knew passed away, will die within 3 months. With a wag of his tail, a sloppy lick to the face or a leap on your chest, Moose can bring unbelievable joy to anyone on their darkest day.
The Moose and I had a short lived marriage here in Manhattan. I had wanted a dog so badly back then, moving into the big city with only a couple friends - he and I lived in a studio apartment on 87th street. At the time I was about 260 lbs., and going out almost every night. I'd walk Moose every night when I'd get home at 1 or 2 am, then wake up again at 6:30 to take him to play in the park for a couple hours before work. I'd then rush home by 5:30 or 6pm to take him back to the park for a few more hours of play after dinner - and start the whole routine over. While both of us were exhausted, him from being cooped up in a 300 sq foot apartment all day and me from well 4 hours of sleep a night each moment we shared together was awesome. After a couple months of this crazy schedule, my parents and I decided that it would be best if he had room to run at our house upstate.
Whenever I'm home my sister says to me, "man you're right, Moose just won't let you sit there." With other members of our family Moose is happy to sleep next to them, watch tv or simply go for a walk - but I really think Moose believes I'm part dog. When him and I are together all we do is play - or I pet him and get his hair all over my Mother's rugs to her delight. Whether it's pretending he's a defensive end as I pass block him from grabbing a bucket in the back yard (a bucket is his favorite toy), butt heads as we wrestle over a stuffed animal in the living room, or simply let him jump around and bark at me to his hearts delight we play for hours on end until we're both exhausted (normally he passes out before I do). Amazingly, he's just as moody as I am, and has bad days, when my parents call and let me know that Moose is depressed I know a trip home that weekend is all he needs to cheer up.
When I came home from the emergency room the day it was theorized that I had type 1 diabetes - the greeting I got from Moose made all my fears go away. This dog has had such an impact on my life, and has brought so much joy to my entire family that this is a really hard situation to deal with.
I've always known that Moose would pass away before me and that at some point in his life he would grow old. However, I never expected this to happen so soon. He's only 6 years old and the knowledge he might not make it to 7 terrifies me. I'll be speaking with various vets today to find out exactly what stage the lymphoma is and weigh the options of chemotherapy. Dogs are receptive to chemo and the side effects are less severe than they are in humans but it's still a really heavy decision to weight.
I had really hoped to bring Moose to Virginia with me, while Manhattan wasn't a great place for a dog whose a bundle of energy to live, the rolling hills of Charlottesville without question are. Also, last night the girl who I've been struggling to maintain a relationship with, my best friend who I've dated for over 3 years finally told me she couldn't deal with my move to Virginia. Our relationship has been on thin ice for the past year and 1/2. My health issues, her financial struggles, health problems in her family and some other circumstances all put a huge strain on our relationship. I finally came around to getting over alot of the past hurt but in the end she can't handle a long distance relationship with me, preventing her from giving me her heart. So as the old joke says in a bad country song you need 3 parts, a dog, a girl and a truck - hopefully my parents don't call me today to say that a tree fell on my Pathfinder.
Thanks for listening - I'm a pretty private person so this wasn't the easiest thing to write.
Updated: Moose met with Dr. Brodsky at the Veterinary Oncology & Hematology Center in Norwalk, Ct today. The center was founded by Dr. Gerald Post reconigzed as one of the best Vets in the tri-state area and founder of the American Canine Cancer Association. They confirmed that Moose has t-cell lymphoma and without treatment he would have died by the end of March. My sister, parents and I decided we wanted to give Moose the best chance of survival possible and started him on chemotherapy today. The prognosis for a year is a pretty good after treatment but after that it is considerably more merky but I'm praying for the best.