Friday, October 09, 2009
The Days Grow Shorter For Henley
Our big friend Henley has been a faithful and constant companion for almost 8 years. When our first Great Dane, Chloe died, we thought we'd never recover. I poured my heart out on the Great Dane lists we read everyday. And a woman in Tampa let us know that her rescue organization had just received a Great Dane puppy. He was black, like Chloe, and he was available. After we were approved by the group, we drove down to Tampa. When we walked up to the home, I looked through the glass door and saw two danes playing. One was obviously an adult, but the other looked too big to be our puppy. But it was him. He rode back on Bunny's lap.
He's been our friend ever since. It's impossible to underestimate how having him has changed our lives. Our coaches are leather because of Henley. We bought our Honda Element in order to transport him. We've taken him with us on trips. We've planned our days around when he needed us. We've loved him fiercely.
We've enjoyed years of leans and slobbers, silly Dane antics, and his ability to take our bad days at the office and absorb them into his love. The best therapy I have ever received has been by simply having him sit next to me on the coach and hearing him bring forth his contented "ummmph." He's greeted us at the door almost every single time we have ever come home, and grieved on those rare occasions we had to leave him here overnight. Unconditional love? Yeah, he does it.
In May, we almost lost him to an infection. And now, it seems we will almost surely not have him much longer. Our friend and vet Ellen Fannon came over to look at a big hard lump on his lower leg Monday and told us it was almost certainly bone cancer. That will be confirmed soon by X-Rays. Treatment is amputation and chemotherapy, but even then you are only buying time. Only 10% live over a year even with treatment, and without it - 4 months - if the pain doesn't press the need to end the dog's life earlier.
Right now, he's still able to get up and limp around. It seems that immediately after getting up, he cannot put much weight on his leg at all, but as he moves around he can use it some. He's changed the positions that he lays in, probably because of the pain. The cancer most commonly found is very aggressive and from what I have read, by the time the bone swelling is seen, has most often already metastasized to the lungs or elsewhere.
For all of us here, the pregrieving has begun. He's been such a big part of our lives and is so loving...