IS THAT THING GOING TO GROW BACK?
We were making our way through Kentucky during the first winter of our walk when Ginger Morgan's dog, Buddy, was diagnosed with bone cancer in his jaw. We had only met Ginger a few months earlier when we walked through Memphis but I had knew the Bud Man and bonded with him instantaneously. Three and a half legged, Katrina survivor, squirrel hunter and coon ass lab mix there was nothing that anyone couldn't love about him.
Ginger sought treatment for his cancer at the University of Missouri and his care came under the capable hands of Dr. Selting. During their first visit there, she and Buddy checked into one of the cheap pet friendly motels most proximate to the vet school and the concierge there, upon seeing, I assume, a three legged dog for the first time, asked the question to end all questions. When was Bud Man's leg going to grow back.
Ginger and I reflect and laugh about it from time to time and while I did know dogs don't regrow limbs like reptiles, I was probably just as uniformed and confused as that concierge back when Malcolm was first diagnosed with bone cancer.
Down south where I grew up, if you have an animal that becomes lame you put them down. That's less true today than it was 10 years ago but it's still commonplace. But there was never a moment's hesitation in my decision for Malcolm to undergo limb amputation. It was like an answer that always existed before a question was ever asked.
The surgery was successful and I couldn't wait to get him home. The clinic wanted to keep him for an extra day to which my answer was, "Hell, no". Healing happens much faster at home. But I was concerned about the transport back so I rented a flatbed dolly upon which I put his dog bed and built a plywood ramp to get Malcolm from door to door with as little turbulence as possible.
When I said last time in my YBD's notes that I had intended to entitle chapter six, 'People Are Pussies', I meant it in that it's amazing to me how better equipped animals are to survive and adapt than we are. I'm not smart enough to know if that's a sociological flaw or an evolutionary one though I suspect it's the former not the latter.
But the resiliency with which Malcolm rebounded post-op was nothing less than awe inspiring. As the Fentanyl wore off within a week, he didn't want any assistance walking down the steps outside to attend to business. He was damn well ready to piss on his own. And the week following, it was almost as if Malcolm was born three legged. It was as if everything was back to normal. But it wasn't.
Or I wasn't anyway. Once a loved one is given the diagnosis, there is no normalcy. Not ever again.
YBD's Notes 1: I'm not sure if you're liking the non-linear telling of this story but it's the only way I've found to reconcile the story's past and keep it moving forward. But I appreciate any thoughts and ideas to make it better.
YBD's Notes 2: If you have or know a dog that has bone cancer or lost a limb, check out Tripawds. They're great motto is 'God gave dogs 3 legs and a spare' and they work tirelessly to help educate people limb amputation. Jim and Rene are just about the best damn people in the world and it's trail magic that this week that I'm talking about Malcolm's amputation is the publication of their first newsletter. We'll catch up with them further down the line as they play a bigger part in this our story.