About a month ago I noticed that Maybelle, always a big drooler, had some blood mixed in with the drool. I assumed at first that she had cut herself on something she had picked up on one of our walks. (She's surprisingly sneaky. I once looked down and realized she had an ENTIRE dead squirrel in her mouth. I was pretty chill about it, I must admit: "Oh, good girl! Look what you found! Now please drop it..." <Shudder>)
After a week it hadn't stopped and she was refusing to eat her usual chewy treats, so we went to visit Dr Kathy. Maybelle is a big dog, and she has a disproportionately big head, so getting any kind of good view is a challenge, but there was no obvious problem, so she told me to buy a bag of Greenies and give her one a day for a month and let her know if that didn't clear it all up.
By the end of another three weeks she couldn't chew the Greenies, and the bleeding was noticeably worse after meals. I began making her softer food and scheduled another appointment. Meanwhile Hubby and I managed to pry her mouth open and I got a really good look.
It wasn't pretty. Something big and black and raised had taken over the back third of her tongue. This was not visible a month ago when she yawned.
By Monday, we got her to the vet to discover she'd lost nearly five pounds in less than a month. We managed to get her mouth open for Dr Kathy. In her opinion, it's a malignant melanoma, and she could see that it has spread up into her cheek as well.
"What do you want me to do?" she asked. "I love this dog," I whispered.
She scheduled us for surgery yesterday to get a biopsy to confirm, and to debulk the tumor to make it easier for Maybelle to swallow. The surgery was cancelled because the vet was ill, and I had a chance to speak with her today, under slightly less emotional circumstances. She is as sure as she can be that this thing is malignant. She is equally sure that debulking the tumor will buy us time, but not much time. The surgery will be painful to Maybelle, and probably not too helpful.
Hubby and I talked it over. Right now Maybelle is enjoying her special soft meals. Right now she is still up for walking two miles twice a day and being friendly with every dog she meets. Right now, she is feeling okay.
So. We basically have doggy hospice here. And when she isn't having any fun anymore, we'll make a final trip to the vet. Given how quickly she's gotten sick, I wouldn't be surprised if we are back there within the next two weeks.
We brought her home a year ago today.