I’m writing this post retrospectively and therefore, have months of goodness between that day in late June 2012 and now (December 2012).

In the third week of June, I came home from work to find a sizable pool of blood on the kitchen floor. Mixed into the blood were small pieces of white and pink fleshy parts. I located the cat and inspected her. My first thought was that Sky had finally taken her pound of flesh from the cat. If this were to ever happen, I’d be beyond horrified, but would probably consider it justifiable homicide, given fat cat Pea’s sometimes harsh treatment of baby girl. However, Sweetpea was fine, sitting in the backyard but meowing oddly. Likewise, Sky was in the backyard, in one piece, but visibly anxious (licking my hand).

Siddhartha, however, was nowhere to be found. I became frantic. If I have a true Achilles’ heel, it’s Siddhartha. He is my boy and I am not embarrassed to say that I love him more than anything else in this world.  At the mere thought of something happening to him, I crumble. And yes, I know one day he will die. I do.

I found him on the side of the house, trying to get into the crawl space. One of the cysts on his back (that we’d been tracking for a few years) had burst, leaving a 2.5″ hole. It was horrific. I called the vet’s after hour line and was told to pat it dry, and if the bleeding eased, they could wait to see him until the next day. The bleeding did stop and I put a little t-shirt on him and stayed curled up with him until the next day.

The vet and I went through the options and chose surgery as the best one. He had a total of 6 cysts and tumors all over his body—2 on his back, a few on his chest, one on his neck, and a large fatty tumor on his abdomen which was the size of a large lemon. The surgeon was out of town for the remainder of the week, so we had to wait five days before he could have surgery. In the meantime, he wore a little t-shirt and wasn’t allowed to the dog park.

My sister had scheduled a visit and it couldn’t have been better timing. She arrived the day before surgery and having her here helped keep me calm. She was fine with scrapping the coastal travel plans and worked hard to keep me distracted with a few home projects. We purchased an inexpensive air mattress and set that up in the living room with several blankets (to prevent doggie nails from puncturing it). I knew Siddy would want a soft place to lay when I got him later that day but recognized he’d not be able to jump onto the bed or climb onto a sofa. The inflatable bed worked GREAT. He and I slept on the bed in the living room for nearly a week until he was more mobile. I knew he was better the day he lept onto my bed, reclaiming his spot.

Siddhartha home from the vet (6.28.12)
Siddhartha home from the vet (6.28.12)

I’d asked a friend to drive me in her car to the vet as I feared I’d hurt him if I tried to pick him up/take him out of the Jeep. I anticipated him having stitches on his neck, chest, abdomen and back—i.e., any area I’d touch or grasp if I picked him up. I was not prepared, however, for his appearance when the vet led him into the exam room. My vision dimmed and I nearly fainted. He looked like Frankenstein labby. A lot of his body was shaved and he had over 60 staples—not stitches—in his little body. On the ride home, I kept checking to make sure he was breathing, for surely his little body wouldn’t be able to have so many traumas. I cried a lot. I will always be thankful to my friend who was calm and comforting.

Sweetpea, our faithful nursemaid and nanny, took up a post next to Siddhartha as soon as he got home.
Sweetpea, our faithful nursemaid and nanny, took up a post next to Siddhartha as soon as he got home.

For the first 36 hours, I focused on the basics. Is he drinking water? Eating food? Peeing? Pooping? Check to all. He slept a lot. To keep Sky from bouncing and pouncing on him (as she is known to do after separation), I gave her a mild sedative before I went to get Siddy from surgery. This was a good idea; even with the sedative, she needed to be carefully monitored. She’s not mean to Siddy, but her enthusiasm often overwhelms him—on a good day.

The girls staying close to Siddhartha
The girls staying close to Siddhartha

This was taken on day 3. As you can see, Siddhartha is starring off into space—out the front door, actually—wearing his little Bon Iver hipster tshirt. The girls wouldn’t leave his side and I could tell this bugged him a bit. He likes his space and often retreats from them. They are pushy. They are girls. Can’t blame a boy for wanting some space.

Siddhartha on the mend (7.28.12)
Siddhartha on the mend (7.28.12). You can see his little cowlick where his scar ruffles the fur on his back. Cute, eh?

Siddhartha checking out the new studio art stairs, one month post-surgery. If you look closely, you’ll see a pointy ridge on his back— that’s the lower part of his back incision. When I went to pick him up, I starred at the incision on his back which looked like two peaks with a valley in between. The cyst had been quite deep. The surgeon said to me something like, “Bet you didn’t think you’d be picking up a ridgeback when you dropped off a lab.” I remember looking at him blankly as his humor didn’t register in my stressed brain. Hours later, I burst out laughing. Funny vet. 

Since surgery, Siddhartha runs A LOT more at the park. He is more playful and wants to snuggle more. He is still super skinny, no matter what treats he gets or how much he chows down. I miss his little tshirts. I think if he could talk, he’d remind me that he’s not a doll and that while I loved his different ‘outfits,’ he found them to be quite ridiculous…

Siddhartha, Pea, and Sky (11.20.12). Sky strips the bed, Siddhartha tries to get under the covers, and Sweetpea finds a spot between them---their somewhat daily ritual.
Siddhartha, Pea, and Sky (11.20.12). Sky strips the bed, Siddhartha tries to get under the covers, and Sweetpea finds a spot between them—their somewhat daily ritual.

For the record, I make my bed every morning. Sky’s favorite hobby is to strip my bed. This is why I have such a large selection of linens; if she’s stripped it, I remake with fresh sheets before bedtime. It’s a pain, but hilarious, and well, on the positive side, she ensures I sleep on clean sheets. 🙂

I’m proud of myself. I didn’t cry once while writing this post. He’s asleep on the sofa, snoring softly, his paw over his eyes, blocking the sunlight. He’s never been a morning dog. I’m so glad he’s healthy and spry. We still have a long path before us. And for that, I’m more thankful than I can ever express.