My Polly is a big 'ol hairy bird. Her coat is dense, soft and gloriously wavy. Thankfully, despite all the fluff and fidgeting whenever I brush her, I noticed a lump deep down on her chest about four weeks ago. It didn't seem to bother her when I tentatively felt around it, so I left it for a couple of weeks hoping it might disappear on its own. But it didn't. It didn't grow, but it didn't go away either.
The day arrived a couple of weeks later, when I finally scraped together enough courage to make an appointment to see our vet. He too felt the lump, checked Polly over thoroughly while she waited politely and then pronounced that said lump, probably a benign fatty lump, must be removed and examined... just in case.
Back home after her op, sleeping off the anaesthetic, with Betty by her side.
So yesterday was lump removal day. Before we set off in the car, we did what my dogs like to do in the morning. We played. We rolled around together on the living room rug, playing tug, bitey face and scratchy bum and we had heaps of daft fun. Hopefully enough fun to last us until Polly's lump-less chest recovers from surgery and we can play 'dog' again...
Coronavirus connundrums make veterinary practices uncomfortable places to visit in pandemic times. On arrival yesterday morning, it was pouring hard with rain, so hidden behind my soggy face mask, we waited on the Vet's doorstep until he opened the door and invited us to step inside to a designated waiting area. It was clear to me Polly was anxious as she kept giving me her paw to hold while we dutifully waited ... I'm really not sure who was comforting who! To help with Polly's anxiety in the waiting room, I decided not to take the traditional option of sitting and waiting politely, instead I put Poll through her doggy paces ... sit, stand, down, sit, give paw, other paw, walk to heel etc etc... keeping her busy to take her mind off all things worrying, until the vet came back with the pre-med injection. Thankfully it seemed to work and she obliged me with a rather neat routine.
Once Polly had been given the pre-med to relax her and I had signed the inevitable disclaimer, I was then relieved of a hefty deposit and sent on my way with my girl's eyes boring a hole in the back of my head from a wire cage as I was ushered out through the front door. For me, this was the most agonising moment. After building Polly's trust for seven and a half years, it was the moment we both knew I had broken that trust. I sat outside in my car and promptly burst into tears as I drove away.
Never underestimate the emotional impact of these moments in your life as a dog owner... believe me, they hurt like hell.
Dad is home from work and despite her pain and confusion,
Polly is delighted to see him.
Back home I was greeted by a waggy tailed Betty who didn't seem to mind that Polly hadn't come home with me, she just wanted a walk. It was still pouring hard but a deal is a deal when it comes to dog ownership, so out into the rain we went. It was a good call, Betty's exhuberance cheered me up and the rain meant no one else had been silly enough to go out, so we had the park to ourselves and didn't have to explain to any other of our regular dog walking pals, where our poor Polly was.
The vet called at 1pm to tell me Polly was in recovery after her surgery and could be collected. Relief swept over me as I raced to grab my car keys. A glassy-eyed Polly gave a hesitant wag with the tip of her tail when she heard me enter the recovery room. Through my joy at finding her sitting up and looking for me, I didn't absorb much of what the vet said to me except that he thought the lump was probably 'just a fatty lump' but we would need to wait 12 days for the histology findings to confirm this. He thrust a bottle of pills and a printed A4 sheet containg post operative care instructions into my hand (and just as well, because when I read it at home I realised how little information I had actually absorbed in the surgery!) made an appointment for a check-up, handed me Polly's lead and let us wobble our way back to the car.
I was worried I might struggle to help Polly onto the backseat of my car, but even through the fog of anaesthetic, she knew what she needed to do and with my hand against her backside to prevent any slipping, she launched herself onto the seat.
The journey home only took five minutes, but it was enough to exhaust poor Polly. She was confused and scared when we went into the house and she clumsily rushed to the back door, so I let her out onto the lawn but she just sat staring into space. It was a shock to see her so disorientated and once again, I burst into tears. After a sob and a cuddle, I managed to encourage Polly back inside onto the bed I had left in the lounge for her and that is where she slept the rest of the afternoon away... well, most of it. I hadn't considered the doorbell! It rang and penetrated her deep sleep, so she suddenly lept to her feet, ran to the window and instinctively jumped up to see who was outside! I was horrified and flew across the room to gather her into my arms, praying she hadn't done herself any further damage. For anyone going through post op care with their dog, I would highly recommend keeping them close to you on a collar and lead indoors when they first come home. Lesson learned the hard way, I clipped Polly's lead on and led her back to bed where she settled back into a very deep sleep. Later that evening, she heard my husband come home, managed to sit up and absolutely beam at him, despite her perfectly horrible day!
24 hours later and Polly is on the mend.
That was yesterday. Today the anaesthetic fog seems to be lifting gradually and although Polly is far from her usual cheeky self, she is noticeably improved. She has eaten and had a drink and a wee but I think she is still quite confused, or maybe reluctant to respond to instructions, which is fair enough. If she wants to just sit and watch between naps, that's fine by me. I'm sure she'll let me know what she wants, when she is ready to tell me but I miss her bossy nose nudges and her tail wags. I do hope they come back soon.
As for the histology report and what comes next, well, I think I'll simply take a dog's eye view of this and live life in the moment, rather than doing what we human's usually do... worrying about what's to come.
Right now my beautiful girl Polly is here with me, her lump is gone, the rain has stopped and the sun is shining.