Barley came out of remission in early September, just a couple of weeks after we returned from the BMW Rally. We had hoped his symptoms were from something he had eaten, since he eats just about anything he can get his teeth into. But dogs generally don’t beat cancer. So every off day, every abnormal bowel movement, every little symptom no matter how inconsequential in a healthy dog gets my mind to wondering if the end is approaching.
The symptoms didn’t fit the pattern, but the presentation of his lymphoma was atypical to begin with, so the vet ordered a blood panel. She called with the results the next day, and I could tell by the tone of her voice it was not good news. Dr Emily and her staff love Barley, and his excitement at every visit despite the drugs and the needles tells me the love is reciprocated. We discussed options, and in the end opted for a low dose of prednisone to make him comfortable. It is not curative, nothing is, but it would keep the wag going for a while.
Oddly enough, Barley does not appear to be fighting cancer. It’s something he simply refuses to acknowledge. His focus is on the joyful things in life. Hunting mice. Plucking apples right off the tree. Spending time with me, one paw draped possessively over my arm, his tail thumping loudly against the floor. Barley wags with his entire soul. When he sees me at the end of a workday he gives a little hop before running to greet me, his head and tail wagging in opposite directions as if to counterbalance each other, his white jowls bouncing a bit with every step. He leans into me and sings a song of joy and love.