Growth.

In my last post, when I was shamelessly campaigning for votes in the Small Cool contest (THANK YOU everyone! We made the finals, SO GO VOTE YOUR HEART OUT STARTING NOW!!!), I mentioned that our “circumstances” had changed slightly. When somebody asked me in the comments what I meant by that ominous statement, I told them that it was about my doggy, Mekko. I didn’t mean to cause anybody to panic, it was just a very scary time when I had very little information, but the information I did have was less than pretty. I don’t want to keep anyone in suspense, so I’ll lead by saying that she’s a-okay now, which is the most important part. For those who like the longer version (+ scavenging!), here is my saga:

Where health is concerned, I am the type of person who generally thinks that something is probably nothing. Max is the sort who is convinced that nothing is definitely something. Something that could kill you, usually. To Max, anything stray, wild, or feral has rabies, and at any given moment, one of the three of us is probably dying of something horrific.

So when Max took Mekko to the vet a couple of weeks ago because she seemed itchy (poor baby has so many allergies), he mentioned that he was going to have the vet look at a little bump we’d noticed the day before on her shoulder. I told him it was a good idea, but also that it was probably just a mosquito bite or something that would disappear in a couple of days.

The vet took a test of the bump and sent Max home with some allergy medication for the itching, and said she’d call in a few days with the test results.

The call came first thing in the morning last Saturday. Max and I had left for California on Thursday night and wouldn’t be back until Monday morning, and my friend Kate was staying with Mekko at our apartment. The pathology report had come back on the bump, and—though those tests aren’t 100% accurate—it had tested positive for spindle-cell sarcoma. Malignant. Cancer.

Cancer. There are a lot of terrible words in the english language—bile, moist, mood board, for instance—but Cancer is one of the worst. It’s the kind of word that sticks in your mind and festers there, bringing with it confusion, anger, and all manner of terrible thoughts for the future. Our 2 year old dog. Who we’ve had for less than three months. Cancer.

The surgery was scheduled for Tuesday morning last week. When I called, I asked to speak to the doctor and was told that she couldn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. Mekko was also going to have her teeth cleaned, and the vet also planned to extract one of her canines because it’s broken. All of her canines are chipped and damaged, probably from chewing the bars of her cage in the shelter (if that doesn’t break your heart, you don’t have one), but one is apparently especially bad and it needed to go. And, of course, the lump and surrounding tissue would be removed, hopefully eliminating the cancer.

We flew home as planned, landing at 7 am Monday morning. Max went off to class uptown, and I rushed home to spend the day with my dog. I skipped class. I called out of work. We cuddled and went for a few long walks, and when Max got home we went to the dog park and let her stay until it got dark and freezing, hoping she’d get her ya-ya’s out before she’d be out of commission for at least a few weeks.

And then I got a call—the vet wanted to reschedule the surgery, pushing it to Wednesday. I agreed and hung up.

I barely slept Monday night due to both nerves and schoolwork, so I didn’t totally trust myself when, on Tuesday, I started to get immeasurably anxious about the whole situation. Everything about the whole experience just felt wrong. Why hadn’t I spoken to a doctor (not for lack of effort)? Why didn’t I have more information? Weren’t there options? What was the best case scenario? What was the worst? I barely even knew what she’d been diagnosed with, or what exactly they were planning to do about it in surgery. I did know that I’d heard some not-so-flattering things about this vet at the dog park. At this point, I’d read some not-so-flattering reviews, too. But mostly, it just didn’t feel right. But nothing felt right—cancel the surgery and waste precious time, or stick to the plan and hope for the best?

On Wednesday morning, I called the vet as soon as they opened and cancelled. Then I made an appointment with another vet, who came highly recommended by a close friend.

So we got in the car and drove to the new vet, and as soon as I met her, I felt better. She was patient and kind and answered my questions and took the time to think critically about each concern, no matter what the previous doctor had said. About the tooth, she warned that the extraction procedure was both invasive and possibly unnecessary, and she performed a pressure sensitivity test on the tooth in question and found that Mekko didn’t seem to give a shit one way or the other. About the lump, she raised the option of removing it that day, in the office, with a local anesthetic, after which the entire mass could be sent to the lab to be analyzed, giving us a clearer picture of the severity of the cancer. Low-grade and she might not even need another procedure, at least not right away, higher-grade and she would need surgery, the amount of tissue removed dependent on the severity of the cancer.

A while later (and a cool $800 or so less than the quote for the surgery we had planned for that morning), Mekko and I left the vet, a little patch on her shoulder shaved and three sutures holding together a small incision wound. Walking out the door, I spotted some paintings piled in the trash from the building next door. Because nothing can stop my scavenging ways, I checked them out for a second. Out of the pile (mostly amateur portraits, and not in a good way), a weird old abstract-expressionist canvas caught my eye and I quickly threw it in the trunk of my car without a second thought.

On Friday, I got another call. The test results were in, and the news was, surprisingly, good. Benign. Not only was the tumor not high-grade, but it wasn’t even low-grade. It wasn’t malignant or even really scary, just a weird collection of weird cells having some weird party on my dog’s shoulder, not bothering anyone. Benign.

While Mekko seemed unfazed by the entire thing, I was a mess all of last week. On Saturday, I did nothing except spend time around friends, Max, and Mekko (and clean, but that counts as recreation in my world), and it was amazing. Then on Sunday I dug that painting out of my trunk and into the apartment and finally got a good look at the thing.

It’s kind of ugly? It’s kind of amazing? I think I kind of love it? Yes I do. Max loves it. I guess we love it.

On the back, it still has the original provenance just barely holding on with two pieces of crusty masking tape. It’s super cool to know the name of the artist and where and when it came from, but what struck me was the title—”Growth (A).”

Growth. A growth was something I found on my dog that sounded scary but turned out not to be. Perhaps it was something like that, excised and viewed under a microscope, that resembled my new painting. But growth was something else, too—us as dog owners, for instance. It wasn’t easy to make that decision based, essentially, only on a bad feeling, but I’m growing to trust myself more in that department. It wasn’t easy for Max to support me and my bad feeling, but we talked it out and I think we grew a little, too. I grew to trust and respect a new person—our new, fabulous vet—and sadly I grew to be a bit more wary of authority than I naturally am as a full-time asshole. I grew more serious about saving up for if/when something truly bad happens. I hope it’s a long time before we ever have to consider our lives without our dog, not only because this little episode scared the shit out of us, but also because I think it made both Max and I realize how lucky we are to have her.

Thank you to Nobuko Otsuki and the avid spring cleaner/dead tenant who left that painting on the street, to remind me of all that crap every time I look over to the corner of my living room.

We love you, Mekko, and we’re so glad you’re here with us and that you’re OK.


108 Comments

  1. I am so glad your pup is okay! Isn’t it funny how a major lesson of being an adult is questioning and trusting your gut when ‘something’ is off, even if that something is so intangible? It’s even more difficult when it’s doctors and vets and people were were taught as kids were IN CHARGE and PEOPLE YOU LISTENED TO. F that noise. Glad you went and found a vet that you liked.

    PS: Cleaning is recreation, and therapy, all rolled into one. The other morning, I woke up in the worst mood and, as coffee didn’t even make a dent, I decided to clean my way into a good mood. Win-win-win: happy Sarah, clean shower, clean fridge. BAM.

  2. Aw so glad to hear Mekko is ok! And also that this is a mood-board free zone.

    (PS I voted for you. I REGISTERED for you. And I don’t register for anyone. But if anyone is considering it, it was really quick, and I have not been inundated with e-mails as yet).

  3. Soooo glad that it turned out it wasn’t cancer…I was fearing the worst when I started reading. It left me behind all teary-eyed nevertheless…

    I hate the feeling when a visit at the doctor or vet leaves you behind like something is feeling wrong…I don’t know how to put it in words…sure, being ripped off always sucks but when it comes to health issues it just drives me MAD. I’d rather be ripped of by my car mechanic or at a store than by a docotor. I will never understand that there are people out there who don’t have any scruples to play with peoples’ feelings and the health of your beloved ones (whether it’s family or your pets…)!

  4. So glad to hear that Mekko is okay. And how good that you followed your gut feeling. And that painting, wow… that you found it on the street. How amazing is that!

  5. How could one vet say “cancer” and the other “benign”? That’s a terrible abuse of power.
    As a sufferer of bad feelings I’ve learnt a lesson from this.
    Glad to hear all is well.

    • Well, the original vet did tell us the results might not be accurate, and then it turned out that the wording on the initial pathology report was “INDICATIVE of Spindle-Cell Sarcoma.” I don’t think that vet fabricated results or lied at any point, but the first test (I think it’s called an aspirator test?) can be wrong because they don’t get many cells to analyze, whereas with the second they can analyze the entire mass. It was just the lack of discussion of options that still freaks me out. I still don’t know how much tissue they were planning to remove from Mekko’s arm, which turned out to be completely unnecessary, obviously, and I just feel like they were skipping the most important step by going straight to major surgery instead of taking the biopsy first.

      • UGH!!

        “It was just the lack of discussion of options that still freaks me out. ”

        Yeah, exactly. WTF!!

        I am so glad your dog is okay! If it makes you feel any better, my cat sometimes acts very ill, I take him in, $500 later he is fine. Every time. It’s got to the point that I joke about getting him to the kitty spa. Oh well. We love our pets, right? They’re family!

  6. I’m so glad she’s ok.

    That feeling of worry for your pet is the worst. It’s good you learned to trust your gut, it’s usually right.

  7. I’m so glad your dog is alright !!! What a scary time…

    And that painting is awesome. Around here trash really just is trash :-(

  8. So glad your beautiful baby is okay, trusting your gut is a wonderful thing. I’ll definitely be voting again when the next round opens.

  9. Ah that picture of her just elicits an “Oh poor baby!” from me!
    So glad to hear she’s ok, and really sorry you had to go through this stress.

    Your writing is beautiful by the way. I can’t claim to know you or your precious pooch, but I am moved to tears by this piece!

  10. I immediately started thinking of some kind of magical vet where everyone who’s been there gets an abstract Nobuko Otsuki painting of their specific ailment…

    I’m glad (Mari)Mekko is all better! Healthcare, surrendering yourself to someone else’s expertise, is iffy to say the least. You never know whether your story will have a happy or sad ending…

  11. Oh boy. There is so little scarier than a sick pet. I’m so glad she’s fine.

  12. I’m so glad to hear that she’s ok! And it’s great to hear that you listened to your gut feeling, and were right. And that Max supported you.

    When you commented about her having health issues and that it made money tight I immediately thought about a post on oldtownhome.com . They’re a young couple with a renovation blog I think you’d enjoy, and a while back they wrote about pet insurance and why they chose to have it. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/IzLM3v

    Maybe getting insurance for Mekko would give you more peace of mind. Oh, and at the end they even have a referral code for their insurance that gives you 10% off forever.

    Also, I’m in camp love-the-painting.

    • Judith, thanks so much for linking to our site for this. Mekko is absolutely precious and I’m so happy to see that she will be just fine. We know the scariness of not knowing what the problem is, and also unfortunately know the difficulty associated with getting the worst case news.

      As for the painting, I think it’s a pretty amazing find and looks pretty great on the wall.

      • Yes, thank you for that link, I’ll definitely look into it. I had been researching pet insurance already for a while, but it seemed like given her allergy issues and cancer, almost anything would just be classified as a preexisting condition, anyway, so we were thinking we’d just put money away every month as a rainy day fund. However, now that the cancer turned out not to be cancer, I’m definitely going to give it another look. The insurance plan that Alex found sounds really great. Thank you!

      • I had to recently spay my beloved pet, and poor thing got an infection post-surgery.
        It was on edge for before, during, and for 4 weeks after the surgery until the vet gave her a clean bill of health.

        Before this all happened, a nurse recommended that I apply for Care Credit. It’s not really an insurance plan, but a credit card plan for costs related to health. You can get it for yourself, but they have a special plan for pets. I could pay her all of her vet bills, and not worry about paying interest if I paid within a certain period. The length of this interest free period depended on the total cost. (Mine was 18 months interest free).

        This really saved me when she eventually got sick. I still put away money each month, but it gives me peace of mind that I have Care Credit as a safety net.
        I don’t work for them and do not profit at all from this comment. I am just a grateful iguana mama!

      • P.S. Oops-forgot to mention: Make sure your vet accepts Credit Care!

      • Thanks for letting me know about that! I’ll definitely look into it. I’m not sure insurance would make sense for us at this point given the number of preexisting conditions the in company could argue that she has/had, but Care Credit sounds promising!

  13. I’m so glad she’s okay! Finding a great vet is hard and so worthwhile. Here’s to having dogs who stick it out for the long haul and don’t let the little things (even if they’re potentially big things) phase them even while their humans are a bit of a mess. Happy Monday!

  14. Oh, I’m so glad she’s okay! And I love the painting. It looks like a lady in a half moon yoga pose.

  15. Mekko is so fortunate to have both of you! I’m so thankful that you went with your gut and cancelled the surgery.

  16. WAY TO GO trusting your gut. That reminds me of a dentist my sister went to 1 (ONE) time who insisted on abusing his power by mandating all these cleanings, ex-rays, and a follow up appointment for something that “looked suspicious,” when the oral surgeon she’d seen for YEARS said everything was perfectly OK.

    I’m glad you found a vet who sees a FAMILY MEMBER that you LOVE, and not a dollar sign with four legs and a tail. So glad everything is alright with Mekko. I remember freaking out an calling my vet at home when my pup had an allergy reaction to his annual shots. He swelled up like an Italian-greyhound shaped balloon. So so so scary when your pet gets sick, they can’t tell you what’s wrong like people can :(

  17. Phew!! When I read “spindle cell carcinoma” my heart dropped since that’s how we lost our last dog. SO glad you went with your instincts..you were handsomely rewarded…

  18. I mean sarcoma…blocked it out already!

  19. I’m so glad that it wasn’t cancer. I just lost my wonderful puppy to caner and it is such a painful experience, I wish that no one else would have to go through it. Give her a big hug from everyone on the internet.

  20. Thanks for sharing your story! It does go to show you that you have to advocate for your pet in the same way we have to advocate for ourselves. I still feel some guilt over not pressing further and tenaciously when my dog kept coming up lame off and on. Vet said shoulder pull – it will heel, etc. But it turned out my baby was walking around on a fracture. And not only that, it was in such a place that it destabalized his ligament and one day as he tore after a ball (he had been doing better) the ligament went. Thousands of dollars later and multiple surgeries he’s doing great now – running on a “fused” wrist required to stabalize the area. I still kick myself frequently for not insisting on x-rays sooner.

  21. So glad you found a vet you connect with and that Mekko is okay! As a future vet (applying this summer!) and care-taker of 4 fur children I completely get just how important “bedside manner” can be. We had to euthanize one of our cats last October and our regular vet wasn’t working that day so we got stuck with someone else. It was awful. He couldn’t tell us what was really going on, couldn’t explain (in layman’s terms) what had happened, just that our previously healthy 7-year old cat was now sick and dying and not going to get better. It made the whole process A LOT harder but it did really drive home for me just how important that human connection can be.

  22. So sorry your family had to go through this, but happy to hear Mekko is ok.
    You learned a lot about yourself and each other in a week.

    Congratulations on the big lead over on AT.

  23. How terrifying! I’m so glad everything is alright! Our miniature schnauzer suffers from tiny growths all across her body, but biopsys have shown that they’re completely benign. I believe the correct term is “lipoma”.

  24. Ugh, Mekko is so beautiful, and so lucky to have you and Max! I’m relieved to hear that all is well, and it all came full circle with the art.

    We also found out 2 weeks after adopting out pit, Jack, that he had a heart murmur. It was a horrible few weeks, as we shuttled him around from vet to vet, and ultimately to a specialist somewhere else in the state. His murmur is so severe, we were told he may only live to be 2 yrs old, but here we are, approaching year 4 – and we see no slowing down in sight!

    Those pups are tough cookies.

  25. All I have to say is this: XOXOXOXO

  26. Awwwwwwwww, Mekko. Beautiful post, beautiful dog, beautiful painting. Finding a painting named “growth” seems like a sign of encouragement from the Universe, don’t you think?

  27. Poor boobah! Such a good daddy you are – always go with your gut in these things. Well, in most things really.

    Love the painting!

  28. What a great story. It is a very empowering experience to take more control of your family’s health care and ask “why?” or “I want a second opinion.” Doctors and vets are not omniscient. We had a vet tell us when our puppy wasn’t even a year old that he had injured his knee and would probably require $2,000 surgery. Two years later and he is totally fine! We gave him rest and glucosamine chondrotin to keep his joints smooth. Dogs are surprisingly resilient, we’ve discovered. I’ve always taken a more holistic view of my own health and I try to do the same for my dog. Your painting and your dog are awesome, and I am looking forward to voting for you guys in the Small Cool challenge.

  29. Totally should have read this at home since getting teary eyed at work is weird.

    I’m so glad that she is okay and I’m happy that you and Max also feel much better.

    Yay Mekko!

  30. If you can find a participating institution with a login, you could check out your artist here:

    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/25142453?uid=3739560&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=47698950470577

    And I am pretty sure you have hung it vertically while it was painted horizontally (a abstract of still life items on a piece of fabric). But that’s the nice thing about abstract art, it is free to rotate.

    • Thanks! I think it’s hung correctly…there’s a signature in the bottom corner. The companion piece in the JSTOR article is also vertical, too. I actually think it had been hung upside-down by whoever owned it last based on where the picture wire was, but I think this is how it was intended to be hung!

  31. So glad Mekko is ok, what a scary situation to be in. Just as well you found that amazing vet. That painting is pretty incredible too and the name is very apt under the circumstances. Keep snuggling that dog! x

  32. I’m thrilled that Mekko is okay. Hurray for good vets!

    And isn’t it neat how the universe brings something with meaning to you at just the right time?

  33. Yay! So glad Mekko’s ok and you have a good vet now, and you saved $800, and you found a great painting with such significane to the occasion. Such good news.

  34. Heavens, what a roller coaster week filled with emotions you have just had, and what a wonderful outcome both for Mekko; Max and you, oh and of course your wall! I love the strange abstract painting – it looks great, and how beautiful that a trash find can become such a meaningful memento!

  35. Really glad Mekko is doing well! Also, love the connection with the painting. A great reminder that most “growth” is a good thing.

  36. Hugs to you guys and your puppy!! I’m so happy Mekko is okay :) Hearing the vet say “cancer” is the absolute worst…

  37. You are such a good daddy. I’m so glad Mekko is okay.

  38. Take back what I said about the painting. Now I love it too. Looks great hung there and a provenance sticker? How cool is that? You didn’t even tell me that. I presume you’ve looked up the painter. MORE hugs for MEKKO and YOU and MAX, I hope I was the right amount of supportive, through this all. I tried. XOXO

    • Your mom is the sweetest!!

    • Love you, Mommy!

      (I’ve looked up the painter, but can’t seem to find anything except in relation to the Cleveland Museum of Art show.)

  39. Dear Daniel, first I love your blog. Second, I am so glad that Mekko is doing well, or maybe that’s first. Third, I adore your writing! You always make me laugh. And, yes, I love your apartment and I voted for you in the AT contest.

    I was crying as I read your story. I am petless, but I am in love with my brother and sister-in-law’s cat. They recently had a horrible nightmare similar to yours. One vet saying the cat would die and it would be $2300. The other saying it was a simple procedure that would cost $600. Now the cat, thank God, is fine after the simple procedure. I now know that you should always get a second opinion for a pet the same way you would for a human.

    Also, I was absolutely stunned by the synchronicity of the painting. It certainly is meaningful. What do you think it is? I kind of think it looks like a pregnant woman. Which is interesting, representing new life, as you described your new lease on life. I was also stunned that it was part of the May show. I am very familiar with the Cleveland Museum’s May show having been turned down there many times. But it’s a great show and I love Cleveland the museum, so I felt a special bond to the painting.

    Thank you for the wonderful blog and for sharing your life. P.S. I can’t get that cute little animal from Israel out of my mind.

  40. It’s on, bitches! Voting has commenced at

    http://community.apartmenttherapy.com/contests/smallcool/2012

    Get your vote on, Daniel fans!

  41. Yea I don’t know what this talk of Tuesday is all about, but its monday as far as I know and I already got my vote on!

    and yippie for mekko!

  42. You´ve learnt to trust your gut, and take difficult decisions.
    You did well. Now take a deep breath, hug your family and go play. Everything is ok.
    Go Daniel!
    Kisses,

  43. So glad your dog is okay!!

    Just voted for you in Small Cool – looks like voting started a day early – go over to AT and vote, Daniel fans!!

  44. This highlights why a doctor’s or vet’s bedside manner is so important. So many doctors or vets don’t take the time to explain and comfort a patient or the family. Much of our whole health care system — human or animal — doesn’t care about the patient’s feelings or the family’s feelings.

    I’m so glad you listened to your gut and found a new vet. And even better news that Mekko is ok.

  45. aww, glad to hear she is doing better, I can’t imagine life without Bailey. Virtual hugs from the zerbey’s

  46. I voted for you in the final round at AT! If you win maybe some of the cash could go towards an emergency fund for Mekko? We have them for both of our dogs and I’m so glad we do.

    • That’s a great idea! My husband and I definitely need to do this – vet bills add up very quickly!

    • Yes, ABSOLUTELY. We’ve already started putting a bit of money away every month, but the prize money would certainly give that a boost! (we’re also looking into insurance, but I’m not sure how practical that would be because of all of her “preexisting conditions.”)

      • I tend to have an annual vet bill freak out and research pet insurance and the result is always the same. It’s usually better to just save the money you would spend on the insurance premium in an emergency fund for your pets. That’s what we do.

        My boxer also has a weird bump on her thigh and the vet always tells us to just watch it for growth and changes in shape. It never changes. She had a benign one that just fell off when she was a puppy. The vet told us that it literally is just a weird cluster of cells that some dogs get and it’s usually totally harmless.

        So glad Mekko is ok! A huge part of becoming an adult for me has been following my gut and asking the right questions. Good for you for following your gut! And my heart totally broke when I read the part about her teeth.

      • i just read consumer reports on pet insurance. they don’t recommend it.

  47. You can read about the 43rd May show in The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art in Vol. 48, No. 5, May, 1961

    If you have access to JSTOR through school you can find it easily!

    Very cool find. Glad the pup is okay!

  48. Glad Mekko is okay!

    I just googled the artist and it came up with this link to the Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s article about that show in 1961: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25142453?seq=1

    Apparently Growth (A) has a sister piece called Growth (B), and there’s a photo in the article!

  49. Just letting you know, the A*T voting has started and it’s a pretty close race but you’re currently in the lead. :)

  50. Hey Daniel,

    You don’t know me but you, your blog, your dog, your enthusiasm make me smile in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    Just thrown another vote into your bucket in the Small Cool finals. Still feel like I owe you after all the times you’ve made me laugh, but hey, it’s a start.

    Keep on grooving!

  51. So glad your puppy is ok. Its just SO important to trust your instincts! And hey, Free painting! Its like the universe is rewarding you for going with your gut.
    My first thought when I looked at the painting was that it reminded me of one person carrying another. just my first impression.

  52. Beautiful story + great painting + happy ending! PS, Chezerbey already posted that the voting has begun. Voted for you, don’t tell!

  53. I just voted for you, and right now you have the lead! Come on people, get the vote out!

  54. in case it’s not where you’ve ended up and you need to know in the future, in brooklyn, animal kind veterinarian in park slope is AMAZING. i no longer live in BK, but they have cared for two of my dogs, through thick and thin and the doctors and technicians are all top notch and hi highly recommend them.

    so glad your pooch is on the mend!

  55. I always love reading your posts bc (a) they are well written and I love your sense of humor (b) you are so creative and have exquisite taste….. but this post was different!!!….I was so moved today, and I am so happy that Mekko is ok and didn’t go through any invasive procedures!
    You have always trusted your instincts when it came to your home and design…. it was about time you trusted your instincts as a parent as well!!!… and I’m happy that you learnt your lesson so soon!
    PS: voted for you again…. hope you win ;)

  56. I’m tired of all the damn contests Apartment Therapy always seem to be running but I put my snit aside and voted for your entry! :-D Good luck!!

    Glad Mekko is going to be okay and that you stuck to your guns. We had a similar situation with one of our cats–we went from complete renal failure with vet #1 to one slightly underpar kidney with vet #2. Vet #1 was very “my way or the highway” and if I didn’t want to do as he said he implied that I was a terrible pet owner. When the cat “unexpectedly” got better (after a $200+ vet visit) I decided we had had enough cr*p and switched. Cat is 17 and still holding his own.

  57. Hi,
    I’m so glad your pup’s ok and that you went with your gut about that vet! You may want to research doing a raw meat diet with her to help with the allergies. I switch my dog after she almost died of an autoimmune disorder about six years ago, and now she’s very spry 13 year old with absolutely no health problems. A good book to check out is “Give Your Dog A Bone”. Anyway, I wish Mekko a long happy life!

  58. Oh my god! Poor Mekko! I’m glad everything turned out alright. And I really love the painting. Ugly is good. It sort of reminds me of a de Kooning. I voted for you in Small Cool! Good luck! I know the $5,000 could also help towards those vet bills!

  59. I’m glad your princess is in good health! Let’s have a pooch play date sometime soon!

  60. So glad Mekko’s okay ^_^ Hope you do win Small Cool :D

  61. Dude you are kicking ass on AT. Sweet sweetness … um … Because You Fucking Deserve It. So, when you get over the winner’s high that you most certainly will have, possibly for weeks on end, check out the food you’re giving Mekko on dogfoodanalysis.com. Actually, do it now, because you may never come down from that particular high. If her food is anything less than 6 stars, change it. You do not want to know what they put in some pet foods. I’m serious. (And yes I voted for you.)

    • I don’t think her food is on that site—it’s a hypoallergenic food with one protein and one carb (no grains, corn, or weird fillers). She WAS eating Science Diet when we got her, which is bad stuff. I think the new food has been really good for her and has stopped the excess itching, so we’re going to stick with it for a while. At some point we might get her allergy tested, which might expand her culinary options, which are extremely limited right now.

      • At the risk of sounding like one of those people who comes parading onto blog comments spouting opinions …

        Well, I voted for you, so there is that :)

        You may want to re-think having her teeth cleaned. I agree that extractions (especially of the large canines) can be invasive and unecessary. But the importance of a dog having their teeth cleaned is hard to overstate. Especially if Mekko can’t have rawhides, bully sticks, or raw meaty bones because of allergies, she probably has plaque building up on her teeth and under the gumline … this can harbor bacteria which can work its way into the bloodstream over time. Again, not trying to butt in, you’re SUCH good parents to Mekko from what I see here … it’s just that a simple dental cleaning can do a dog so much good, especially if you can clean them up before decay starts.

        So glad to see how well you’re doing on AT! You rock :) Can’t wait to see what you repay for our votes with. Kitchen updates make me excited …

      • Oh, yeah, absolutely! We’re definitely planning to have her teeth cleaned, but every vet has told us that ideally we should wait until the summer or even fall to put her under full anesthesia again, just to give her enough time. Her environment and body have been changing pretty rapidly recently (being adopted, putting on weight, switching foods, etc.) and it’s hard to tell when she was spayed. So—YES—girl needs her teeth done, but the plan has always been to wait a couple of months…the only reason they were going to do it then was because of the emergency lump situation.

        We’re also having allergy tests done (on saturday!), so hopefully we can expand her diet to include more things that can maintain healthy teeth.

  62. As always, beautifully written –and with some great life lessons. We’ve owned multiple dogs and cats for many, many years and know just about all of the vets in our area. Compassion (for the pet and owner) ranks up there with competence. A lot of young veterinary school graduates cycle through animal hospital practices here and it seems that they’ve been taught “bedside manner” — usually much more so than human docs. I sympathize with you guys, having once spent about $4K on emergency surgery to save our dog. Though it took a long time to pay off the debt, spending the money was a no-brainer.

  63. So glad to hear about Mekko!!
    Dd has a pittie with itchy allergies and has finally found a diet that works
    after a full year of research, trial diets and home-cooked meals that involved
    tripe (shudder). The strangest things set poor Rocco’s skin a-twitchin’.
    (Email if you’d like the name of the brand that works for them)
    Painting is even more incredible knowing the circumstances.
    Off to vote!

  64. Growth. It can be terrifying when it’s on or in someone you love. And it can be exhilarating when you take the reins and face your fears and are transformed.

    So glad to hear Mekko is on the mend. And I love that painting. What a find! It’s perfect for that space, just perfect.

  65. So glad to hear Mekko is doing better. LOVE that painting, super find!!!! what a strange coincidence about the name….

  66. In my life, a strong gut feeling never steered me wrong. If I ignored it, I later regretted it. Not just in health…but in relationships…in work…in friends…everything. Good for you in trusting yourself. You just saved your baby Mekko a lot of unnecessary procedures.

  67. Phew. Sweet Mekko! When we adopted our rescue dog, we had to fill out questionnaires detailing how much we were willing to spend on health issues. We thought seriously about it and wrote down the “maximum” number we were comfortable with. But that’s all academic. Now that we have and love our dog so much, I think we’d go considerably into debt to help him. He’s dealing with food allergies too (we worried it was something worse), but he’s going to be fine.

    Like you and other commenters have said, dogs are very resilient, and remain unfazed and in the moment. It makes me feel better when I make mistakes or act out my brand of crazy. We can get past it. (Hopefully I can learn enough not to screw up a child.)

  68. You are such a good parent. Already! And wow about the (beautiful) art. I have goosebumps from the whole dang story.

    jbhat

  69. SO Happy it all worked out and hey – free art! Can I leave you with 2 bits of unsolicited advice? 1. Never waste money on Pet Insurance. I have yet to find one that isn’t a bullshit scam and doesn’t cover shit 2. Feed her the very best, most healthy food you can afford. Most dog foods in the grocery store AND Petco are crap that’s bad for them. Blue Buffalo? http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/newpetfoodrecalls/brand_list.cfm?Trade_Name=BLUE%20BUFFALO&pet=Dog A good organic dry kibble with fresh fruits and veggies is great. A little meat treat is o.k. too sometimes. Organic-hormone free meat of course. I swear it keeps them free of sickness!!

  70. Thank God you listened to your gut! So glad your baby girl is ok!

  71. Glad things worked out ok on the canine front, that’s not fun stuff to deal with.

    As a former Clevelander, I wanted to comment more on the painting – lovely find. The Cleveland Museum of Art’s May Show is a showcase for local and regional artists, so Otsuki was probably from the area and might not have exhibited many other places. How the painting ended up on a New York sidewalk is fascinating to imagine, perhaps he moved it, perhaps one of his kids, perhaps a collector? In any case, glad to see it’s found a great home and a new story to boot.

    On the May Show: http://library.clevelandart.org/museum_archives/finding_aids/may_show/fa_mayshow_02_background.php

  72. So glad that Mekko is fine! I can totally understand the waves of fear, anger and the feelings at are connected with that particular situation you went through! All the best to you and your loved ones!

  73. This is such a wonderful story. A great outcome for Mekko, finding the painting, the title of the painting. Wow!

    We have a an 11 year old rescue dog with health issues. We are so fortunate the her/our vet is patient, kind, answers all of our questions, calls us, never rushes us out of the office. We joke that we should start seeing her for our own appointments! Go with your gut…whether with your vet or your own doctor; if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

  74. I’m really happy things turned out well for Mekko. Very recently my own 7 year old pit bull, Piggy, was diagnosed with late stage cancer. My sister and I stopped everything in the two weeks we had left with her. We made a special effort to spoil Piggy and take her on car rides and outings, making each day as perfect for her as we could. We spent a shit ton on procedures, 2nd opinions and finally in home euthanasia because eventhough we really couldn’t afford it, it was really the least we could do for her after all the love and happiness she’d given us. It’s wonderful that the growth scare turned out to benign, so now you will have the chance to love and spoil Mekko for a long long time.

    By the way, I just wandered over here from AT. Voted for you and all that. You’re site is awesome.

    • I’m so sorry about your puppy, what a terrible situation to find yourself in as a doggy parent. It sounds like you gave her all she could have wanted. We don’t forget for a second how incredibly lucky we are that things turned out so well—I know they could have easily gone the other way (and have been on that side of things before, too), and all of this definitely reminded us to enjoy every minute with her! It’s never enough time, no matter how much we get with them, sadly :-(

  75. i hope you’ll get the princess
    1.)
    a big beef knuckle and her own mongrammed bath sheet from eldridge street textiles
    http://www.eldridgetextile.com/Espalma-Signature-Zero-Twist-Towels-p/502.htm
    2.)
    homemade tweeeeeeeeeeeets
    http://www.marthastewart.com/317602/blueberry-dog-biscuits
    3.)
    a honey badger mug for the milk to go with the cookies
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/69269565/sleepy-mug-honey-badger-series

    love from us all, and big hugs.

  76. OMG, I didn’t even realize that your change in circumstances was regarding Mekko! (Um, I typed realise instead of realize at first and thought, hey it’s British, so it’s a fine typo, but then I realiZed I’m just lazy). SO frightening. I have 2 of my own (which you might already know if you connected my green gravatar -is that a terrible word? -with my endless blathering about them.) I cannot imagine our lives without them or their lives without each other. Thinking about one of them “going”-they’re littermates, ergo “twins” (actually triplets that we cruelly separated) -makes me ugly cry so hard I literally choke. I nearly had to be institutionalized when I put my cat down (brain tumor). How scary -I am so glad you went for a 2nd opinion!! I love the way you temper such a sad, scary time (I remember that bittersweet time with my cat the day she died) with humor that makes me LOL. Mood board -a terrible word? Totes! (See what I did there? I just used another terrible word.) And the recreational cleaning?? and spring cleaner/dead tenant?? (My brother actually cleans out the apartments of elderly Japanese -ironically enough, as part of his job! Spend that 5 Gs well, son -set up a little emergency fund for you, Max & Mekko, but first get yourself something nice -you deserve it, really you do.

  77. A second opinion is always in order, dog or human and this is a perfect example of why! The Biscuits are so incredibly happy to hear that Mekko is home, safe and healthy . . . she’s an incredible creature! Mamma Biscuit has gone through several vets all because I trusted my gut and I’ve never regretted leaving any of them You’ve had Mekko for 3 months, Tommy and I have had Mamma Biscuit for 3 years, the growing process continues as this journey of being a pet owner unfolds and sometimes it may get intense, but it’s all worth it….and somehow, I think you two already know that!
    xoxo
    Mamma Biscuit and family!

  78. so so so glad to hear the word benign!!

  79. What a scary moment – so glad it turned out okay for your dog. My heart always melt when it comes to dog stories, especially when it’s a dog that’s been rescued. Also, love the painting. It reminded me of a Henri Mattise painting and his fauvism style.

  80. Glad to hear Mekko is cancer-free! The way you write about her is incredibly sweet and sincere. She reminds me of my own adopted pitt/boxer mix.

    You mentioned Mekko having allergy issues… it could possibly be what you’re feeding her. Many dogs have corn/grain allergies, which is unfortunately the first ingredient of most popular dog foods. Science Diet, Iams, Pedigree… all household names, but all HORRIBLE and loaded with fillers. I switched my dog to a grain-free kibble (Taste of the Wild, but there are many other brands that are similarly awesome). Within a week, her itchies/scratchies were gone and her coat was gorgeous. Even more, her poops were FIRM! She clearly felt better too.

    Check out http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com – it’s a great resource for understanding how much their food directly impacts their health. The grain free kibbles are not well-marketed, and they do tend to cost a few more bucks per bag… BUT serving sizes are less (since there are no fillers), so the bag lasts longer. Not to mention the benefit of good health and fewer trips to the vet for allergies meds/shots. What’s not to love?

    Also, I apologize if you’re already aware of this… just trying to help based on my own experience. I was guilty of feeding the crappy brands for several years thinking my dogs were getting the good shit, and was shocked to learn how crappy it was.

    Anywayyy.. Yay, Mekko!

    • Yes, it’s scary the stuff they put in dog foods! We switched Mekko to a grain-free single-meat-single-carb food when we got her (she had been eating chicken-based Science Diet…blech), which did wonders for her skin and coat. She also seems to have seasonal allergies, but they were only bad for about a week before her skin settled back down.

  81. As I started reading the story about the bump on Mekko an old feeling returned, that lump in my throat, the tightening in my chest, when my pup was diagnosed with cancer. I know those sleepless nights and long days at work where it was all I could do to get to the bathroom where my knees would literally buckle under the weight of sadness and I could cry without my co workers knowing. I feel blessed I was ultimately laid off and was able to spend my severance and the last months of my best friend’s life lying with her in the summer sun before she passed away. Ultimately she taught me all that is certain is that we have today.

  82. Just catching up on my blog reading and got to this. Yikes! I would have been so freaked out as well! I am so glad she is OK and that it turned out to be nothing. Whew!

  83. I actually live in your area and would love to get the names of the vet’s offices you visited, at least the vet who helped you through such a tough situation. Glad to hear everything worked out and that Mekko is okay!

  84. You told this story so well, and I am so glad it turned out well for you.
    This is my favorite blog!

  85. Your painting got me curious, and when I get curious, I Google – I found this, and thought you might be interested: http://books.google.com/books?id=ThCyCe4QANgC&pg=PR10&lpg=PR10&dq=nobuko+thornton&source=bl&ots=j-D7xBnQEu&sig=wQMLofPy3-qNuykYaZ4sSIJdFDc&hl=en#v=onepage&q=nobuko%20thornton&f=false

    There’s also one or two other mentions of other paintings, like Growth (B), but very little information.

Comments are now closed for this article.

Back to Top