What was the very first thing we noticed when Gabe arrived home from the hospital Thursday evening? He started sniffing the ground the minute he came through the gate into the yard. We had never seen him smelling anything before ... because he couldn't. Alayne and I watched this blind boy walk around the back yard that evening, smelling everything underfoot -- with as many dogs as we have here, there are a lot of different scents to take in! -- and honestly, we almost teared up.
That's when it struck us just how much of his world the nasal tumor had taken from him. He had already lost his vision and most of his hearing, and then to lose his sense of smell -- so critical to a dog's ability to "know" his environment -- well, that had to be, in it's own way, a devastating disability too.
Wonderful friends of the ranch, Shirley L. and James C. from Portland, Oregon, kindly offered to pick up Gabe at Washington State University's vet hospital in Pullman and bring him out to us on Thursday. That saved us a 10-hour round trip -- thank you, Shirley and James!
In addition to seeing Gabe walk around on his first evening home, sniffing his new world, we could also tell from the look on his face that he was just a much happier dog. And no wonder! Not only can he breathe through his nose again, but all the fluid that was packed into his head and dammed up by the tumor is now gone. I can't imagine how much better he must feel.
Given the invasive nature of the surgery, we thought his head would look much worse post-operatively than it actually does. Here's a close-up of the surgery site:
Not too bad, is it? I took both these photos this afternoon. The hardest thing was trying to keep him far enough back to get photos; all he wants to do is nuzzle into us.
Because his sense of smell has returned, so has his appetite. Just like the other dogs now, Gabe starts getting excited at meal-time. But it's not the sound of the dishes being prepared that gets him going -- he's too deaf to hear it -- it's the smell of the food in the air that's getting him worked up!
We will be taking him back to WSU in a couple of weeks to begin his three-week course of radiation therapy. It's the radiation that will do the "clean-up" and get the rest of the microscopic cancer cells that the surgeons couldn't completely remove.
Meanwhile, we are just so happy to see Gabe wandering the yard, sniffing at the grass and trees and anything else his nose picks up!