I’ve never been much of a gambler, other than the occasional scratch or powerball ticket. No interest in casinos.. all the lights and smoke and noise .. bah. I used to joke that I used up all my luck in high school anyway. I don’t put a lot of faith in karma, fate, etc etc. Life is just what is. Sometimes it’s great and sometimes it sucks but it’s the same for all of us.
I’ve been thinking a lot about odds lately though. For instance.. what were the odds that my sister would die while I was undergoing cancer treatment? Probably not that high, but she did. Afterwards I kept after my husband that we needed to update our wills, put our affairs in order “because you never know”. But really, what were the odds it would happen twice in one family? Apparently pretty high since he died less than a year after she did.
What were the odds that a lump that was not there in the morning and actually clearly visible in the evening could be anything but a cyst? It was cancer. What were the odds it could happen again? Greater than I thought. Yes, cancer has struck my house again. This time it’s my dog.
Comet came to us 11 years ago as the result of a bet with a 13 year old soccer player and her extremely warped coaches. My daughter played on a travel team in a defensive role. Not really in a position to score. She had been asking for a dog. Clearly we were not dog people. We were cat people. Dogs were expensive and smelly and just a lot of work in general. On our way to a tournament one weekend I said if she scored she could have a dog. She didn’t believe me. Her father backed me up. What were the odds she’d score? They got significantly higher when she told her teammates and coaches about our bet. Early on in the game we noticed a disturbing trend. The whole team was feeding her the ball. She not only scored, she got a hat trick. We were the only parents not cheering. Actually there may have been some unsportsmanlike language from the vicinity of our canvas seats on the side line.
Well a bet is a bet and a promise is a promise, so I went to the local humane society with my list of conditions. From my daughter the dog had to be black and white (like a soccer ball). My husband wanted a male and it had to be at least a year old, no puppy. I said it had to have blue eyes. The odds of finding a dog that fit all that criteria were pretty low, right? First trip to the shelter, 3rd cage to the right in the big dogs room there he was, bouncing up and down like a demented Tigger on crack. Shit. Wait, but what’s this? Oh.. he’s been adopted. Too bad. Feeling certain it would never happen I told the staff to let me know if his adoption fell through and no, thank you. I don’t want to look at the other dogs. He’s the only one that I was interested in. Two days later I got a call. His new owner had returned him. Sigh
So I went and got him and I’d like to say it was a perfect match and he was a great dog. He was a dick. From day one. The first thing he did was take a dump on my bedroom floor. Then he decided the recliner would work very nicely as his command central. He would run away constantly. You’d see him hauling ass up the road, down by the river, running victory laps around the house. I started lying when neighbors would call to report a sighting. I’d tell them it couldn’t be my dog. My dog was right here. There were times he was so bad I would cry because I didn’t think we could keep him but I knew he wasn’t likely to be given too many more chances. I understood we were the third attempt. On the advice of the staff at the humane society I bought a crate. I felt bad putting a full grown dog in a crate but after a while he got used to it and would put himself in time out. He hung out with me in my office. He was starting to grow on me.
After a time we couldn’t imagine not having him in our family. For the cost of some kibble, chew bones and a comfortable bed he has been a constant source of amusement. He is terrified of cats, thunder, fireworks and the sounds of gunfire. He has a fondness for UPS brown. He barks like he wants to rip your throat out when you drive into my dooryard, but if you come in the house, invited or not, you are his best friend and he will offer to show you where the best snacks are kept. He loves to ride in the car, even though 99% of his car rides end at the vet’s or kennel. He has never put the two together. If you put an item of clothing on him, he freezes and will not move until you take it off. He doesn’t run away anymore, but if he finds himself loose he will do one quick lap around the house and then throw himself at the door to be let back in. When my husband died, he gave up his comfy bed and started sleeping across my bedroom doorway. He seemed to sense I needed him there. My new bedtime routine is to move his bed from it’s usual spot in my office to outside my bedroom. We sleep in a row with my little dog, Clover, in her spot near the bed.
Comet’s tumor was found much like mine. Not there one day and hard to ignore the next. My long time veterinary clinic would not see him though I begged. I was leaving for Texas in a few days and he was to be boarded. While I understand a lump is not an emergency, I am a cancer survivor. We don’t ignore lumps. When I returned from Texas I made an appointment with a new clinic and they have been wonderful. Sure this was just a fatty tumor, they biopsied it and got concerning results. Surgery revealed a much larger mass than suspected and they could not get it all without causing muscle and nerve damage. Pathology report came in yesterday and it is, indeed, cancer. Good news, it is not the kind that metastasizes normally. Bad news, they did not get it all so it will likely grow back. I’m taking a wait and see approach and for the moment he is doing great. He had his stitches out today and carried on like they were killing him. Such a drama king.
While history tells me the odds are not usually in my favor, they have been in his and I’m betting on him to be around for a few years to come.