Last Sunday Alayne discovered a growth on blind Goldie's side, near her right shoulder. It was very small, buried in a lot of other tissue, and it had that "uh oh" feel to it. Not a fatty tumor, and it felt attached. This was more alarming than it would normally be, because Goldie had already had surgery for another cancerous growth in January. That was a soft tissue sarcoma on her back. Our internal medicine specialist in Missoula, Dr. Dave Bostwick at Missoula Veterinary Specialty Clinic, had successfully removed it.
On Monday I took Goldie in to see Dave, and a fine needle aspirate confirmed our fears. The growth was a mast cell tumor. We scheduled surgery for today.
Goldie is one of our 'personal' dogs who moved to Montana with us from Seattle in 2000. She is the chief minion who never lets Alayne get more than 5 feet away from her. Goldie is a dog who is as much as part of us as any animal we've had. We've had her longer than anyone else.
And as many of you know, this has been a truly terrible year for losses for us. We've lost three of our other personal dogs this year ... Dillon, Dolly and Shiloh. Little Oscar died, too. Then there was the death two weeks ago of our beloved Birdie, who was as much "one of ours" as Goldie. Add in all the other losses, and it's been an emotionally brutal year.
So having Goldie develop a second cancer in six months was the last thing we wanted to hear, and this week we have been on edge worrying about her. I took the photo of Alayne with Goldie this morning, just before they left for the vet hospital in Missoula.
The good news is that Dave called an hour ago to say Goldie came through surgery just fine and was already up and walking around. He is sending the tissue in for a biopsy, which will tell us what grade of mast cell tumor it is. They range from 1 to 3, with 3 being the most aggressive and requiring follow-up chemotherapy. Most come back as grade 2 tumors. We should have the results by early next week.
Alayne had stayed in Missoula to be able to bring our little golden girl home this evening, and she just called to say that a very happy Goldie was in the truck with her and headed back to the ranch.
Now, of course, we have to get past the post-operative danger zone where things like blood clots can kill them instantly, despite a successful surgery. Birdie's death painfully reminded us that just because they came through surgery in great shape doesn't mean they are out of danger, so our fingers are staying crossed for a while yet!