It came back to my attention when I was washing him... Him being a strictly outdoor dog he never really needed to be bathed that often. I was soaping him up and my hand ran accross the lump again. This time it seemed a little bigger. I finished washing him and after all the soap was rinsed off I took a closer look... and sure enough the little marble sized lump from a few weeks early was now the size of roma tomoato.
Suddenly everything from the last few weeks came rushing back to me. His serious lack of energy, his decreased appetite, His disinterest in playing the games we usually played. I looked up at him as he sat there in the hot vegas sun and he looked back at me. He looked me right in the eyes. ANd I knew something was wrong. Horribly wrong.
I talked to my vet that day he told me it was likely just a bunch of errant cells in the fatty tissues in his leg and that I shouldn't worry about it too much unless it ruptured. RUPTURED?! Everyday after that I made sure to check it. I paid more attention to how Caesar acted.
It seemed like he was just slowing down with his old age. After all he was 13 years old. That's extremely old for a dog his size.
A month later I came out to check on my boy and he was lying there in a pool of blood. His mass had ruptured. I completely freaked out, but I was the only one home. So I did what any rational 16 year old would do. I called my dad and made him come home from work so that he could take us to the vet. I called my vet and asked what I should do. He told me to get a bunch of towels and to put pressure directly on the wound. but to be careful becuase it will be painful for Caesar and he might bite.
I did I was told. The knees of my jeans soaking up blood, My hands trembling as slowly blood leaked through the first towel. When my dad finally got home, I my hands were stained, my jeans were ruined, and my shirt looked like a horror movie prop. But through it all Caesar never even growled at me. He would look at me and smile, though I could see the pain in his eyes and hear it when he whimpered.
When we got to the vet the put him into emergency surgery. 3 hours later the vet come out to talk to me. They had removed the mass which did not turn out to be cancer, it weighed 10 pounds. However, directly beneath it in the muscle was another mass, and he could tell just from looking at it that it was cancer.
It was inoperable becuase of where in the muscle it was located. He gave my boy 6 months to live.
Caesar came home two days later. His leg was shaved and there were close to 40 staples runing the entire length of his thigh. He looked gnarly. I was given some rules. He had to take his painkillers every day, and his antibiotics, and i needed to avoid any swelling what-so-ever.
I would not allow him to become an outside dog during his recovery. So he became for the first time in his life an indoor dog. He took to it rather well. He enjoyed lying in the kitchen watching the family. He ignored the cats. He always told us when he had to go potty.
A few days after his surgery I noticed that there was little swelling in his leg. I called the vet and he told me to put cold wet towels directly on the leg and to keep them cool and wet until the swelling went away. I was up for 12 hours constantly switching out the cold compresses. I didn't go to school the next day becuase I needed to stay home to make sure the swelling didn't come back.
His recovery was long, but eventually he went back to have his staples removed.
For the next 6 months I lived in a constant state of fear. Fear that I would wake up one morning our come home from school one evening and he would be gone.
But instead of growing more listless and weary, he actually gained a little weight, went back to playing ball, and insisting on 4 hours walks. He regained a lot of his youthfull verve.
For the next two and half years everything was as it should be. It seemed like my boy was going to live forever. A few months before I graduated high school I noticed that my boy wasn't eating as much. Slowly his appetite began to diminish, he began losing weight again, and the scariest thing of all... his lump was back.
I took him back to the vet and after a complete check up the vet told me waht was going on.
"Despite all the odds your dog has found the strenght to live when he should not have. He not only hid his weakness but he lived with it, he learned to compensate. But now he can't do that anymore. His cancer has been spreading. Its in his lungs, heart, stomach, liver... its everywhere except his brain, which is a miracle. To be quite honest he should be dead right now. You need to start seriously thinking about when to put him down. He is in a lot of pain even if he sin't showing it."
There I was. on the verge of graduation, geting ready to ship out for basic training, looking ahead to the life in front of me. And I had to make my first adult choice ever.
I asked for a painkiller for him and took him home. For the next 6 months I spent everymoment I wasn't at school with him. It was like being a little kid all over again. I would lie next to him and tell him all about everything. One evening I was sitting in the living room he came walking out of the kitchen and he sat right in front of me laid his head in my lap and looked into my eyes.
And I heard him. I heard him in my heart. He was ready to go.
The next day I took him in. My dad couldn't be there, but my mom and my sisters were with me. I held his head in my lap as he left this world.
Three days before I shipped off I got his remains back. I had him creamated. I still have his urn.
Caesar taught me so much about life and love. He taught me about unwavering loyalty and about the meaning of friendship. He showed me that when the odds are against you that love will pull you through. I still miss him. The pain of his loss has never really gone away.
I miss you so much big boy. I love you. You will remain in my heart forever. Till we meet again on the other side of the bridge.