Nothing Keeps a Good Dog Down, and (According to Clara) Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Green

I know, sort of gross, but not as bad as I’d anticipated.  Sheena had three incisions, one for the spay – that one is barely visible, one to remove one mammary gland and nipple (not terribly aesthetically pleasing, but since the mass was right below the nipple, it stood to reason that it should be removed) and another incision to remove part of another mammary gland.  For having what amounts to a hysterectomy and partial mastectomy all at once, Sheena is remarkably unfazed.  Wednesday night, the day of the surgery, she was a bit in pain but mostly still stoned from the anesthetic and all the pain meds.  Yesterday she was a bit slow and tired, but today she has pretty much been trying to act like her normal hyper self- in spite of still being on Tramadol.  When Clara was hit by a car last year and had to have surgery to repair her front leg she was pretty well zoned on the Tramadols but they don’t seem to phase Sheena nearly as much.  Then again Clara was seven years old when she got hit, and Sheena is about three, if that.  Age does make some difference.  What really surprised me is the Vets at the clinic said Sheena was in heat when she was spayed.  She showed absolutely no signs, but then some dogs don’t.  Spaying her now may likely have saved her life although there is a good chance the mammary tumors were benign.  Mammary tumors in dogs are fed by estrogen- so in theory removing the tumors and removing the source of estrogen should prevent their return.

I only have two more days of Tramadols for her.  She has several more days of Keflex (what a joy trying to cram those down a canine gullet- the capsules are huge, and heaven help you if the capsule breaks, because Keflex is one of the nastiest tasting antibiotics there is, and I should know because I’ve probably taken every antibiotic out there at one point in time or another) for which I hope I have sufficient peanut butter.  It sounds mean but the only way to get pills down most dogs is to bury them in a wad of peanut butter, then scrape the wad of peanut butter containing the pills on to the roof of the dog’s mouth.

Clara of course is jealous, so much so that I joke that her brown eyes are turning green.  Little Miss Green-Eyed Monster resents the attention Sheena is getting, although I am sure she doesn’t remember all the special attention she got when she had all those stitches and then that seroma that had to be drained every other day for a month.  I did not enjoy that at all but at least she recovered fully.  I think dogs bounce back a lot faster than we do.  Lilo has not been nearly as clingy but then she’s always preferred Jerry.

Clara at the pet blessing.  Her eyes are still brown, in spite of her occasional jealous tizzies.

Jerry is in there whining about trying to caulk bathroom tiles- he’s about 8 or 10 beers into it which means I’ll have a mess to clean up tomorrow. He’s already trying to wheedle me into farting around with it too but I refuse to enter in to his drunk and stupid inspired home improvement attempts.  If only he would do this stuff when he’s sober, and preferably when I’m not home to hear about it.

Nerves, Waiting is the Hardest Part, and Sympathy for Sheena

At one time in my life- before I discovered I have absolutely no aptitude for higher math- I considered a career in veterinary medicine.  I’d never made it through the algebra and chemistry, but I still have a passing curiosity for things medical and technical.  Blood and guts (as well as puke and crap) have never phased me, and I have a very limited sense of smell.  Had I just been able to somehow comprehend higher math I’d probably gone on to a veterinary or medical career.  Unfortunately my math abilities end at what I would call business math, and I still wonder how I made it through- with “B’s” no less- three quarters of accounting in college.  So I ended up in automotive. Still technical, but as long as you aren’t designing them, the necessary math skills seldom go beyond percentages and ratios.   Even I in my mathematical weakness can cope with those.

I dropped Sheena off this morning to be spayed- pretty sure that she was neither in heat nor pregnant- and figured she would do quite fine and the process would proceed uneventfully.  I didn’t think she would be old enough to have mammary tumors- a condition that claimed my very dear cat Daisy many years ago- so I was a bit shocked when the spay clinic called back and said she had two “small suspicious masses” on her mammary glands.  So not only does Sheena have to endure the spay surgery, she’s ending up getting a mastectomy as well.  I am still waiting to hear back from them.  I wonder if she is doing OK, if she can still come home tonight, and I wonder a lot of other things too.  I know that mammary tumors in dogs generally only have a 50/50 chance of being cancerous, and even if they are, if they are removed early, the cancer generally doesn’t spread (as it almost always does in cats) and the dog lives a normal life.   This really surprises me because Sheena is not at all body sensitive and I didn’t observe or feel any kind of lumps or bumps on her other than an innocuous, small lipoma on her right leg.   So if the tumors were so small that they could only observe them when the skin was pulled back during surgery, I would surmise that mastectomy should eliminate any risk of the tumors spreading.  My curiosity is if they are simply going to remove the just the affected gland(s), or if they are going to be a bit more radical and remove both mammary chains.  I’ll find out soon enough but I hate waiting and being in suspense. 

Of course had poor Sheena been spayed at four or five months of age she wouldn’t have mammary tumors.  In some ways I feel like we’re shutting the barn door after the horse has already escaped. I know the value of being sure to spay a non-breeding dog early, but we didn’t get to her early, and some people are just plain ignorant.

I will check Lilo when I get home, and Clara too, even though Clara is not as high risk for mammary tumors because she was spayed earlier and never had pups.  That is one disease that scares the hell out of me even though I’ve been assured it’s not as serious a thing for dogs as it is for cats. 

Poor Sheena.  She is going to be a basket case.

Anyone who is stumbling upon this, listen to me.  SPAY your dog.  Do it early.  Find a way.  Most dogs are not suitable for breeding anyway, and you don’t want to deal with heat or puppies – or the risk of mammary tumors and pyometra and all that other stuff.  We are trying to do right by Sheena now, because we didn’t have her when she was younger, but for other people with younger dogs and pups- DO IT NOW.  Or I will come and torture you.