The Trumpeter in the Woods, Chapter Ten – Saying Goodbye (part one)

My Caper was getting old yet her arthritis stiffness had improved from the massage and acupuncture treatments which inspired me to move forward with my part time business. As I worked with the shelter dogs each week, I felt compelled to learn more about dogs and do more for them. But what? Certainly not as a veterinarian. Flashbacks of flunking college chemistry in freshman year clearly ruled out medical school in my future. I figured the only other option was to learn how to be a dog trainer. But how? The only dog trainer I knew worked at the SPCA where I volunteered, and she taught obedience classes there. She graciously allowed me to shadow her in one of her 8-week sessions. It was a class in basic obedience – sit, come, stay, down, walk nicely on a leash – and it was enough to convince me to explore a career as a trainer. I loved seeing people and their dogs learn how to communicate with one another.

That was 2001, the same year that Caper developed a lump on her front paw. Her regular vet didn’t bother to test it and said it was a fatty tumor. I trusted the vet (yes, the same vet who ignored Caper’s arthritis) and didn’t think any more about the lump. Until Caper started to lick it. It must have caused her pain. I showed it to her acupuncture vet who immediately took a biopsy. The results were devastating – hemangiosarcoma, a common and aggressive cancer in Goldens.

I cancelled my imminent week-long vacation in Ocean City, Maryland because everything I read about hemangiosarcoma said that Caper had about a month to live. And because it was August, I felt certain that Caper wouldn’t be around for Christmas. So I bought her some gifts and set up a small Christmas tree. And I did that every month until she actually made it to Christmas. Yes, I felt a little foolish, but the thought of not having my girl with me for one more holiday season was too painful to imagine.

Caper embarked on cancer treatments with the holistic vet. She did not have chemotherapy or any other traditional cancer therapy. I opted for acupuncture, Chinese herbs, a low-carb diet and energy healing work. I gave her Reiki treatments, believing that the love I had for her would flow as healing energy to her. She was poked and handled constantly and exceeded the prognosis by over a year. She lived and my bank account died! I had spent over $10,000 on her treatments. But it didn’t matter because my Caper was still with me. My fear of losing my money never entered my mind. I wanted to keep Caper with me at any cost.

Content and title copyright Christine Palm Shaughness. No reproduction allowed.