“She’s limping a bit more.” My mother commented sadly. 

“That bulge thing isn’t doing well either.” My dad commented absently as he continued to type something on his desktop. 

“I think it’s a tumor.” I told them. 

We took the dog to the vet a few days later. She did very little about it. Never took an X-Ray. I sat in the lobby because my mother doesn’t like to have too many strong opinions in the office with her and the dog. I played with a string on my coat watching the secretaries busy themselves between phones and gossip about the animals and their owners. It’s a tumor I thought. It’s definitely a tumor. 

“Her hips are bad,” My mother said. “They’re slipping out of the joints. It’s why she is limping and that bulge is growing.” 

“No. It’s not. It’s a tumor. I felt it. I know what I felt.”  I said adimately. 

“Shut up Em. You aren’t a vet.” My mother spewed at me venomously. 

I did what she said. She couldn’t be told anything against what she already had assumed. I figured she had probably spent more time convincing the vet our Kandy had a hip problem rather than asking the Vet what she thought it was. I wasn’t satisfied with the result. It’s totally a tumor. I know it. 

A few months had gone by. My mother kept commenting about what she thought was a symptom of the dogs alleged hip problem. I kept telling her the dog wasn’t having symptoms. “She can’t have symptoms of a slipping hip. It’s a tumor.” I kept saying. Mom had tuned me out by now. “I should get an X-Ray done on her. Just to see how soon we should put her down.” She commented while I continued to empty the dish washer. Like she hadn’t even heard me. 

A few days later I was sitting back in the waiting room. The same girls gossiping about a new set of pets and their owners. This time I had no coat strings to play with. The man next to me was quiet, but told me when he sat down “You may pet him if you like.” I never even had to ask. I befriended the dog of the man who sat next to me. A breed I had seen in books  but couldn’t recall. A handsome creature with soft fur. 

My mother peeked out the office door and summons me as I was just beginning to cuddle with Clyde (the dog). So I reluctantly got up from the waiting room floor and walked in the room. It smelled like dog and alcohol when I stepped in. 

“Where’s Kandy?” 

“Vet is getting the X-Ray.” 

I paced a little. Anxious to know what was going on, and trying to distract myself by reading the informational posters on the walls. One was a diagram of the tick populations in the US. I tried to find it fascinating. It wasn’t. Thankfully the vet returned with Kandy, who was doing her happy dance she has done since she was a puppy. When she knew a treat was coming, and before we trained her to sit and stay when a treat was in our hands, she would wag her tail so hard her whole body would flail. Now it’s her anticipation dance. How you know she expects a treat to come. Her dance was rewarded as she sat and gently took the treat from the Vets hand. “Come on back, I’ll show you the pictures.” The Vet offered cheerfully as if she was still speaking to the dog. We obeyed, well trained as we were. 

There it was. Plain as day. Knees a little arthritic. Hips….completely intact. But just above the hip bone? A huge tumor. “If we had caught it sooner we might have been able to remove it.” The words stung a little when I had heard them. I found myself upset. 

“What are our options?” My mother inquired. 

“Keep her comfy until it seems like it’s getting too big or she starts to wither away.” 

We got back in the car. We were silent. The dog laid quietly in the back seat. My mother watched out the window for a good long while. I tried to refrain from saying “I told you so” or calling the dog “Cancer Butt.” 

Now we all call her Cancer Butt. Kandy is pretty cool about it. She likes our sweet voices as we say it. She does her happy dance wiggling every part of her body including the ever growing tumor feeding off her hip. Another has developed on her stomach…and we suspect another on the opposite hip area. She isn’t long for this world we know, but my mom is having a hard time making the call to put her down. So we wait a little more. Saying things like “This is her last bag of food,” or “This is her last bag of bones.” Measuring the dogs life in kibble n’ bits. That’s what we’ve reduced her to. That and calling her Cancer Butt.

I regret the name. I regret uttering it. In a moment of poor tasting humor I have reduced a creature God created that we brought into our family as nothing more than a bad joke. Not that Kandy cares. She has had a good life. Eating and sleeping. Playing in the yard with us. Chasing stray animals that came into the yard. She never had it so good. Now, her deadline is only days or weeks away, and the reality is too much. I pet her more and more now when I come home from work. Every time I let her outside I give her an extra treat for her return. I sneak pieces of grissel to her when no one else is looking. If it wasn’t so obvious, I would start letting her come into my room and sleep on my bed.

Who would be my sun bathing buddy? Who would come with me to my trips to the Bank for money and a treat…and eat the second hamburger when I decided to sneak through McDonalds on the way home? Who was going to go to the river with me and get so full of ticks it would take me hours to clean her off before mom found out? I dont know. I can’t think that way anymore. All I know is it is very difficult to emotionally disconnect from her. Even with calling her Cancer Butt. 


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