Every Day a Gift

I’ve had a really hard time getting to the point that I can write this post. I’ll start by saying that, as of right now, Ryder feels fine. He’s 13, of course, and is slower than he was a year or two ago, sleeps more, and has lost a bit of his hind end strength. All of those things are pretty normal for a 13-year-old Saluki. Though I know there are Salukis who have lived well beyond that age, I think many people who know the breed well would agree that 13 is, well … 13. In 40 years of living with this breed, I’ve yet to have one live to 14. But right now, Ryder’s happily lying here begging for my lunch (which I’m eating as I type, because it takes my mind off the painful words a little bit).

To the point, I guess….

Ryder has a heart arrhythmia for which his cardiologist couldn’t really find a cause. He has mild mitral valve disease, but that doesn’t explain the irregular heartbeat. So, on the 8th of July, Ryder went in for an abdominal ultrasound.

The cause of the arrhythmia turned out to be a mass on his spleen that is stretching the capsule.  He also has a smaller mass on the liver. The liver mass is solid and according to the report does not have a lot of malignant characteristics, though it does have a blood vessel running through it. There are chances that it’s benign. The splenic mass, however, looks like hemangiosarcoma.

I have spent many hours doing research into many aspects of the disease, and the decision making process. I’ve consulted with professionals and with friends who have much Saluki experience, as well as experience with this horror of a disease. After many tears, much heartbreak, and a great deal of list-making, option-weighing, and discussion, our decision is to not put a 13 year old Saluki through major abdominal surgery. Am I certain it’s the right choice? I wish I could say I was. As I said to my vet, the batteries in my crystal ball died years ago.  But it’s the best choice I, and my family, could make for Ryder under the circumstances.

Thanks to dear friends who have helped with information and medical research on Chinese Medicine treatments (turkey tail mushroom and Yunnan Baiyao), I will be adding these to the protocol I used for Kai. That came from The Dog Cancer Survival Guide by Dr Demian Dressler and Dr Sue Ettinger. With Kai, of course, I was trying to maintain a dog who was very, very ill before we ever knew he had cancer. With Ryder, we have a boy who feels good, and honestly has no idea that he’s sick. I am cautiously hopeful. My own vet approves of the plan.

I am going to do my best to give our Mister Handsome the very best life possible for whatever time he has left. I hope that is a long, long time, but will take whatever he is able to give. And, when he is too tired, or too sick, and ready to stop fighting, I will, with broken heart and many tears, send him home to Lin.

I will close this post with my undying love and gratitude to the friends who have been so supportive and loving over the past week. The list it so very long, and I know you all know who you are. I hope you also know how much I love and appreciate you. Thank you for the shoulders to cry on, the gentle advice, the extremely helpful information, the gifts you have sent, and for loving our Ryder so very much. 

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