Thursday, September 22, 2022

Olga's Autumn


There's good news and bad news.

The good news is, Olga made it through her tooth removal OK, and is back home with us now. She's lying in bed next to me as I type, snoring away.

The bad news is, her medical situation is more complicated than we thought.

Normally, removing a canine incisor as a major job, because the teeth are deeply rooted in the jawbone. In this case, the vet said, her infected tooth came out rather easily, and the vet found that beneath and around it was "abnormal" tissue where the bone should be. In other words, Olga has some sort of tumor in her upper jaw.

I can't say I am at all surprised by this. From the time that lump on her snout showed up last December, I suspected cancer.

The vet is doing a biopsy so we can figure out what kind of growth it is, which will help us decide what to do, if anything. Dave and I are not believers in taking extreme steps. Olga is right at the average life expectancy for a dog of her breed, which is 12 to 14 years. (She's 12 or 13.) So we're not going to be doing radiotherapy or disfiguring surgery. I think it's going to be a matter of keeping her comfortable for as long as she's enjoying life and eating and drinking normally.

In fact, as you may recall, the original plan for yesterday's surgery was to remove both incisors, because the other one has long appeared to be injured or dying. (That's the one the vet told me years ago might need a root canal.) Well, when the vet found the tumor she called me to ask if we still wanted to remove that second tooth as well, and I said no. It's not bothering Olga or causing immediate problems, and the vet concurred.

I may be in denial, but I wonder if this growth isn't benign. Olga has lots of lumps and bumps, which are typical in old bulldogs, and we first noticed this one almost a year ago. It hasn't significantly grown in size in all that time -- in fact it has appeared to shrink or subside at times -- and it hasn't slowed her down. I would think a malignancy would be much larger and more damaging by now. But as I said, the biopsy will tell us what we're dealing with.

The vet couldn't give us a very specific prognosis, but she did say that if it's a malignancy (and she believes it is) Olga probably has months, or maybe a year. Again, not surprising, considering her age. The vet said these types of malignancies typically don't metastasize to other organs, so that's a good thing.


This was Olga's mood when we brought her home last night. She was woozy from the anesthesia, looking at us with droopy-lidded eyes, poor thing. She ate a treat right away and then had a can of food, so that's a good sign that she's bouncing back, at least in the short term.

Of course this adds another level of uncertainty to our plans for the holidays. I've gone ahead and finalized the plans for the million-dollar dog sitter over Christmas. I don't think Olga will decline so rapidly that she'll be gone by then, and we intend to travel to the states as planned, but it's hard to know what to expect.

Weirdly, Dave and I seem to be taking this news pretty well. Like I said, I've long suspected she had more than just a simple infection, and obviously we're both aware of Olga's age. And again, I don't think we're looking at an immediate death. As long as she appears happy, engaged and not in pain, we'll keep plugging away.

(Top: A leaf I found on a recent dog walk.)

37 comments:

River said...

Well damn! Now my eyes are all leaky. Give her a cuddle from me okay?

Moving with Mitchell said...

So sorry to read this. We would do the same as you if Olga were ours. Hope her recovery from the surgery isn’t too unpleasant.

Unknown said...

Kind of as I expected. You'll know when the time comes. You have to pay for a dog sitter who will living in your home, and a substantial amount by the sound of it? I may not be right with my knowledge but one person I know here who used to do similar did not charge and just enjoyed the free accommodation.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Thank you for the update Steve. Love to Olga.

Boud said...

Good thinking about Olga's future. I agree totally on just keeping her happy and functioning as long as possible. You'll know.

Tasker Dunham said...

That's sad, but no living thing can go on for ever. It always surprises me the lengths that some owners go to for their pets - I'm thinking of certain TV programmes here. If our cat had a similar condition I think, like you, we would let nature take its course.

Jennifer said...

Oh no. I'm sorry the news isn't better, but glad that (so far) it's not worse. I think you and Dave are being very sensible, and I know that you'll keep Olga comfortable and happy no matter what. She is lucky to have you.

I'd concentrate on enjoying and making the most of every day with her. I'm sure you will.

Love to all three of you.

Ms. Moon said...

Yes. Could be better, could be worse. Now, I suppose it is wait and see. I am not surprised that you and Dave are taking the news with a degree of calm. You are pragmatic men. And until there is truly something to freak out about, no need to do that. I absolutely commend you on your belief in comfort measures, not extreme measures. Jennifer is right- enjoying and making the most of every day that you can is the right thing to do.

Bob said...

So sorry to hear this., I hope the results are good news, for you and Dave and Olga.
You know we have just gone through something like this and it's not fun or easy or pleasant, but all that matters is doing what's best for the pet and keeping them comfy and loved as long as you can.

Sabine said...

Truly sorry to read this Steve!

Linda Sue said...

This is difficult. You are both correct about NOT taking extreme measures to extend her life. Olga is too great of a dog to put up with that. You are the best dog parents ! As for traveling during the holidays, if you must, but that has the potential of challenging your common sense. I reckon this year will be insane for travel at Christmas. Let Olga be you guide...

The Bug said...

I'm sorry to hear this. I know Olga's in good hands with you two - and she has DEFINITELY had a fabulous life up to this point.

NewRobin13 said...

You and Dave are doing all the right things for Olga. She is in good hands and hearts and will live out her life surrounded by love for all the time she has left on this earth. I hope there are many days ahead of good walks and lots of things for her to sniff and explore.

Marcia LaRue said...

Sorry to read this about Olga ... she will let you know when she's ready to cross the Bridge! It's never easy on us!
Pamper her for as long as you can!

Pixie said...

I'm sorry Steve. I agree with the no treatment plan but it's still hard and nobody wants to see someone they love suffer.

Vivian Swift said...

Sweet Olga. She won't know a thing except that she is and has always been loved by her people.

The Padre said...

Dang It - A Friend's Dog Displayed Similar Symptoms And I Was Rather Worried A Few Post Back - But Like You Stated, You Can Only Do What You Can - She Is Comfortable And Well Looked After - Treats And Happy Walks - Be Well Human - Be Well

Cheers
P.S. Shadow Boy Passed Away Four Years Ago Today - SUCKS

The bike shed said...

Oh, that is sad - I dread the day anything would happen to my Oscar, which f course, one time it will.

Ed said...

I'm sorry to hear the news but I think you are making the right choice and I would probably have done the same for my dog. My mom made a similar choice with her cancer after fighting it for almost two years. The last six months after stopping treatment were the best months of those two and a half years and I feel lucky that we had them. I hope you and Olga have some really happy months ahead!

Ellen D. said...

We will all be waiting to see what the biopsy says...

Debby said...

Oh my. I am sorry to read this. I am glad you are being so sensible about things though. My sister's dog had cancer in front leg. The leg actually twisted and deformed. The dog limped horribly, but seemed happy enough. She got a car ride every night and special treats that she loved. This went on for months. My sister felt that as long as she seemed happy, they would leave her. To my eyes, it was hard to watch. I think those closest to the animal will know when it is time, but it is such a hard decision.

Sharon said...

I'm so sorry to hear this but happy she seems okay now and is recovering well. Pets give us so much but sadly, they are with us only for a short period of time. Making her comfortable and giving her lots of love (as I know you do) is the best medicine. Give her a little pat on the head from me.

Kelly said...

I feel for all three of you. It breaks my heart, but unfortunately it's part of life. We've dealt with cancer in several of our dogs, including a Rottweiler who was only 5 at the time. It sounds like you're handling things well. Remember... quality of life is far more important than quantity.

Red said...

I hope the prognosis for Olga's health is very good.

gz said...

Damn...that is sad...one always hopes that they just reach the end of their span and that it.
Hugs to all three xxx

Allison said...

Dental visits for dogs are so often fraught with peril. I hope Olga's remaining time with you is happy and comfortable.

Jim Davis said...

Thank you for the update on Olga. I know you & Dave will keep her comfortable in her remaining years.

Mary said...

Hugs for Olga. And for you and Dave.

RedPat said...

So sorry to hear the news about your sweet Olga. Maybe it will come back as non-malignant. Old dogs do get a lot of growths.

John Going Gently said...

Olga of course will be oblivious , thank the lord..you two will carry the burden
I’ve been here
Just enjoy her until she’s in pain or not eating
You will know when

jenny_o said...

Ah ... that's not what we all hoped to hear, but as you said, it could be a benign growth, which would give her quite a bit more time with you. Thank you for the sweet photo of her under her pink blanket :) I do agree heartily with no drastic measures, given all the circumstances. We have to think of our pet, not ourselves.

Jeanie said...

You are a wise soul and a good pet parent. Extreme measures would be so hard on her -- and on you, by sympathetic extension. She doesn't deserve that, so long as she isn't in pain and can enjoy her peaceable life, all the days, weeks and months that remain. I will hope that it's benign and send all good wishes, good juju, everything to our four legged girl.

ellen abbott said...

And at her age, if surgery is an option, she may not recover from the surgery or it would shorten what life she has left. I'm not in favor of extreme measures especially in old dogs either. Seems to me it would make whatever life they have left be miserable. She's a good dog, a good companion. You and Dave will know the right thing to do.

James and Brigitta said...

I was baffled when our cat, after having the rest of her old and bad teeth pulled, managed to eat half a can of food within hours of coming out of surgery. Can't see myself doing that!
Yes, I agree with everybody else, she had a wonderful life (and still has) and I see no 'gain' having to have her go through all kind of extensive and often painful and/or miserable treatment. There comes a time you will have to let her go, and you'll know it ..

Lindsey said...

Oh Olga. It is hard to see our dogs get older but I agree with you that at this age just keeping her comfortable is the most important thing. I would make the same decisions for Nell. Love to all three of you!

Margaret said...

Hoping for positive news and if not that, as much time as possible with Olga healthy and happy. I can't imagine your life (or mine) without Olga in it!

37paddington said...

This is sobering news. I can't imagine the world without Dame Olga. I know you'll keep her happy and playful for as long as she has, which I hope is longer than any of us imagines.