(Names have been changed for privacy issues, but the facts remain.)
It was a cold winter day twelve years ago when we first met Summer and her human mom, Sarah. Summer was a cute 8 week old puppy and she quickly warmed our hearts. All of us here at Lanoka Oaks watched Summer grow into an equally adorable mature dog over the years. Our visits would see Summer come in somewhat tentatively but she would tolerate what we needed to do on her visits since she knew that the faster she let us do “our thing”, the faster she would be home. Over the following years, we dealt with the typical dog diseases, skin infections, urinary infections, “doggie colds”, and each time Summer pulled through like the trooper that she was.
As she got older, the issues became more serious. Summer was diagnosed with a heart murmur at the age of 8 years. As the murmur intensified, we pulled in Dr. DeRose, a cardiologist, to help evaluate Summer’s murmur. When the echocardiogram revealed mild heart disease, Summer was placed on new medications, this time to help her heart. Again Summer proved all of us wrong as she dealt with this new problem. Over the following years, Summer’s heart disease stabilized and she went on living her life.
A year later, Summer had a brush with cancer. Just after her 9th year birthday, Summer came in for a lump on her skin. A needle aspirate revealed a Mast cell tumor. Without hesitation, Sarah scheduled surgery for Summer where the lump was removed and biopsied. Mast Cell cancer was confirmed, but a low grade, allowing Summer to avoid chemotherapy/radiation.
As her age progressed, Summer started developing the typical senior dog issues, this time being arthritis, and we started pain medication to keep her comfortable.
Unfortunately, all good things do come to an end. Summer came in two months ago for a new limp which medication had not helped. On radiographs of her front leg, we were suspicious of a new cancer, osteosarcoma, but could not be convinced. We recommended a second opinion by an orthopedic surgeon. They confirmed our worst fears, Summer had developed bone cancer of the front leg, right at the shoulder joint.
Due to her age, and the location of the cancer, we all agreed (Summer, Sarah, and us) that the best course of action was to let Summer enjoy whatever remained of her life, and Sarah took her home to spoil her.
Last evening, surrounded by her mom and family, outside on the grass which Summer loved the best, Summer departed from this world. As has been written before, last night was the best of times and the worst of times.
Rest in peace
October 28th, 2001 to July 21st, 2013