A 45-year-old fat man trying to find his inner skinny dude.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lost Dog

I wrote recently about my dog, Grendel, who had bladder cancer.  By the time he was diagnosed, it had gone into his prostate.  This is bad because the prostate blocked his elimination functions.  If you can't go, you're a goner.

I loved this dog.  I got him in March 2001 when he was six weeks old, five pounds.  My ex got him for me, and he was my dog right away.  He was with me when I moved to California to be a screenwriter, through the divorce, through a couple of years of being that angry guy you've probably met a time or two, through meeting my new wife (and her pets!) and through nine months when I went back to school in a different city and he and the other dog stayed with my now-wife.  Even when I was scared and lonely, that dog never doubted me.  (I know it's in the nature of dogs, but I appreciated it anyway.)

So he got cancer, and I realized later that what I'd thought were signs of aging and maybe (treatable) diabetes were signs of the prostate enlarging.  We put him on chemo pills, and he was supposed to live for four to six months.  He lasted just about three weeks.  He started to slide last Thursday, refusing to eat.  By Sunday morning he could barely stand up by himself.  It was time.  Even the vet cried.  She thought he was a great dog.

On Sunday, after having been up all night and then taking him to be put to sleep, I found myself unable to sleep at all.  I could, however, eat.  I ate.  I ate a lot, probably more than I have in nine or ten months.  I knew I was doing it, and I didn't care.  I had the sensation that I was punishing myself, as if my dog's death wasn't enough.  I suspect I was punishing myself for failing to understand what was happening to him.  If I had caught it sooner, he might have responded to treatment.  He might have lived longer.  At least, I think that's what was going on with me.  But it was a clear feeling--every time I went to eat something, part of me said, "bad idea," and another part of me said, " suck it up and eat it."

So I did.  It didn't feel good, and it didn't comfort me.  It just made a sucky day suck worse.  Who knows?  Maybe we need to feel like shit sometimes.

I've been doing better the last couple of days.  Right where I wanted to be yesterday, today, a little over.  But not out of control.  Not actively trying to hurt myself.

I have not drawn any conclusions here.  I'm just watching.  But here's some advice:  If your dog is deathly ill, avoid "Please Don't Go" by KC and the Sunshine Band.  Trust me.


  1. Skip, I'm so sorry. Just looking at Grendel's happy face, I understand how close you were.

    Please don't blame yourself! I know it's hard—our pets are so dependent on us for everything, we are responsible for what happens to them. But death is not something you can control, it comes to every person and every dog. He had a long life and a good life, and that's what counts. You gave him all the things that matter, and he knew that.

    Be kind to yourself.

  2. You are very kind, and I appreciate it. I really miss that dog. He was a talker, and the house is weirdly quiet now. Mostly, I'm ok, though. I'm getting used to not seeing him.