Our Dog Has Cancer-Starting to Say Goodbye to a Family Pet

I begged and pleaded for a family dog for the better part of three years. I'd pick up lost dogs and what I thought were strays but turned out to be coyotes too many times to count {well, I only tried to "save" a coyote once, I'm not a lunatic!}. But my husband told me that if the Obama's could wait to move into their new home to get a dog, we could too. A few days after moving in, I got a response from an inquiry I placed about a 12 week old golden retriever puppy that was for sale and two days later we brought Sophie home. And now she's dying. Sophie has cancer.

golden retriever puppy

golden retriever

My dog has cancer

golden retriever

I'm not quite sure any of us were prepared to get the results of the biopsy. We noticed a large lump on her chest that went from squishy to hard within a few days. Sophie didn't seem uncomfortable, just more tired. Which honestly, seems close to impossible with her since she happily sleeps most of the day away normally. 

sleeping golden retriever

When you welcome a dog into the family, you know the inevitable day will come. We just thought we had more time. Sophie isn't even eight and the average life span of golden retrievers is closer to 10 or 12.  Now we are faced with the question of when to intervene.

sleeping golden retriever

When do you intervene when your dog has cancer?

I guess the hope was that she would die quickly and peacefully in her sleep at home after living a long full life chasing waves and chewing bones. Cancer doesn't give us that option. It's going to be a slow decline and at some point, we are going to have to make a proactive decision to end her life.

golden retriever kisses

There is a heavy emotional weight that is just pressing in our home right now. I feel it when we decide to only buy one more bag of her food instead of buying in bulk or when we sent our son off to college knowing that Sophie may not be with us when he comes home at Thanksgiving and seeing what could have been their last goodbye. 

The time is coming to say goodbye to our dog

I can't stop looking at pictures of Sophie. When we are away from home I feel a longing to be with her because we just don't know how much time we have left with her. I've thought about the endearing habits she has, the favorite spots we've discovered together, but above all, I've considered the unquestioning devotion Sophie has given us. She's filled our home and our hearts with joy and we just aren't ready yet to face the loss.

golden retriever and her boy

Sometimes we think about what life will be like when we don't have Sophie. Will we miss the endless hair tufts floating across the floor? How long will we find her toys lodged in cracks? What will it be like to not start our day picking off dog fur from our clothes? I honestly don't even want to think about these things because it's too hard to imagine not having her presence in our lives. 

golden retriever in senior pictures

She's not just a dog

We've loved her hard and we will keep loving her until her very last breath. We will be present with her with no other intention than to continue to be a witness to her life. We've seen her from her first weeks and we will see her into her dying days with compassion and love. Sophie isn't just a dog, she's been a part of our family and we will miss her dearly. Our dog has cancer and we will be there for her, just like she's been a constant companion for us. 

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Catherineaussie said...

We never have our furbabies long enough. We are going through a similar thing with our cavalier. All we can do is love them till the end. When their favourite things no longer bring them joy then it will be time. I send big hugs to you and my warmest thoughts x

Rhino Midget said...

Oh Rachel I am so sorry! Our family has had too many goodbyes recently too. I can tell you, it doesn't matter what the fur baby is; three weeks ago we said goodbye to one of our guinea pigs, Moo Moo. A week later, my parents lost their 14 year old puppy, Sugar. Sugar was a year into Cushing's Disease and in spite of doing everything medically possible to help her, she'd lost 10 pounds in two weeks and my parents realized it was time - my sons went with my dad to the vet; while my mom stayed home with their other baby - a Jack Russell named Pokey. There is no right or wrong and only you can determine when "it is time". We love our pets like family because they ARE family; my heart goes out to you during this difficult time. XO XO XO Hugs & prayers!

Beth B said...

Im so sorry! It is so obvious you love her very much. Such a hard time.

Unknown said...

I’m so sorry to hear this, Rachel and family! We have a 14 year old lab and she is nearing her end, also. It’s been so hard to decide for her when to end her life. She doesn’t get around like she used to, she sleeps constantly, she can’t get in and out of the car, etc. But making that decision seems so hard. I’m sorry you are going through this and pray you will know when to help her.

Jane Charpie said...

So sorry. They quickly become part of our family, don’t they? Sounds like Sophie has had a loving family and a wonderful life. We lost both of our cats (brothers) 6 weeks apart last fall. We now have 2 new kittens to share the love. Thoughts and prayers go out to your family, including Sophie. 💗

Unknown said...

Oh Rachel...I'm sooooo sad to read this. Love you guys!

Calypso In The Country said...

I am SO sorry to read this. My heart just breaks for you. It is so unfair that we get to have our pets for only a short time when they give us so much love and happiness. I also have a golden and she is the love of our lives. She is almost 7 now and I often think about losing her because I know goldens can be prone to cancer. I know your darling Sophie knows she is loved and I hope you still have a long time to be with her.

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very good. Thank you for sharing.
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