A Harlow Update


And now it’s time for a post about… HARLOW! I guess I was a little vague about his surgery last week and didn’t give many details, other than saying things like “bad bumps” and “stuff that has to go.”

So here’s the deal. We took Har to the vet back in September and left feeling quite happy when the doctor assured us that every bump we checked out was just “fatty tissue.” From what I understand, these bumps are very normal and don’t have to be removed unless they keep growing, and even then it’s usually just “cosmetic.”

About three weeks later, during the middle of October, we noticed another bump. A new bump, one about the size of a marble, and it lingered somewhere in between hard and soft. Chris instantly suggested we get it checked out. I have to admit that I was hesitant, but only because we were just there and everything seemed fine (and also because taking Har to the vet is no easy task because he freaks out.) But after about a day or two, my worry got the best of me and I made another appointment.

More tests. More shots. And more waiting for the vet to call and say everything came back fine.

Except for five days later this call wasn’t like the others. On this call, the doctor told me the last bump they tested was actually a “mast cell tumor.” It was during this call when he told me, “not to panic” but also “not to google it.” “We caught it early,” he said, “some dogs have these for years before an owner notices.”

So I waited approximately three minutes before googling it. And that’s when my heart dropped and things went to shit.

Mast cell tumors are the most common cause of cancer in dogs (according to google.) I found all of the scary info I wanted and then after I calmed down a bit, I found all of the reassuring info I wanted, as well. Google is kinda like our perception on life, it seems to give us results that are in line with whatever we’re currently focusing on.

I think I was hesitant to actually say “mast cell tumor” on here before Har’s surgery in fear that the doctor would open him up and find that it had already spread and then … then I don’t know what I’d come here and say.

Luckily, that didn’t happen. They “got good margins,” which as far as I know means that they believe they got it all. However, I won’t take a full breath until I get the call this week with the pathology results telling me we’re officially in the clear.

“Getting good margins,” also meant that Har walked out of surgery with a much bigger incision than I expected.

I was not prepared for this at all. I ignorantly thought he’d come home a little groggy, with a few minor cuts, and sleepily snooze the afternoon away with Chris on the couch. I was wrong.

Instead what happened is that Harlow came home groggy, restless, and worst of all, really really sad. I could just feel it. I did everything I could to make him comfortable; set up 100 different cozy spots, laid myself in all the spots begging him to sit with me, but he wouldn’t relax. He’d just follow me around, whimpering and drooling, and refusing to sit. But his little body couldn’t handle it and eventually he’d start trembling and just fall over. It was incredibly hard to watch.

Oddly enough, the one place he found comfort was the car. And so like a mom trying to get her infant to sleep, we drove around the city of Chicago going absolutely nowhere, as I tried to get my eight year dog to relax.

And it worked.

About an hour later when we came home, Harlow gave into his exhaustion and passed out on the couch, nestled between Chris and I. I spoon fed him dinner, gave him constant snuggles, trips to the toy store when he was ready, and was just basically being very over-the-top about making sure he felt better.

By day three he was milking it and was even borderline being a little brat. He was doing naughty things he never does- like stealing food right from my hand, chewing ten bones and immediately demanding ten more, and most diva-like of all, he wouldn’t eat his food unless I SPOON FED HIM. I’m not kidding. That’s when I said, okay you’re fine. Enough’s enough, you little princess.

He’s basically back to himself today and it’s driving him nuts that I won’t allow the zoomies at the park. We have to take it easy for at least a week.

I haven’t left his side for more than a few hours since his surgery last week and I know that I owe YOU a thank you for that. Because it’s thanks to people like you who read this blog and buy my t-shirts which allows me to work from home and be with Har all day.

This sounds silly and sappy but several times through out this past week when I knew he was in pain and uncomfortable, I remembered how sweet he was during our scooter wreck. How he loyally waited on the bathroom rug when I decided to shower at 2:00 a.m. because the road rash kept me from sleeping. How he refused to leave our block with the dog walker because he didn’t want to get too far from us. And in the mornings when we were slow to get up because our bandages needed changing, Har always waited patiently for us, never moving until we did.

He was there for us, so now it’s our time to be there for him.

Moral of the story, check your pup for bumps. When you find a new one, don’t wait to get it looked at by a vet.



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