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My Dog Has Cancer

About an hour into our first date, this guy, I’ll call him Matt since that is his name, told me that he likes dogs, but couldn’t handle the responsibility of actually having one, like I do. He went on: “I couldn’t deal with that kind of obligation. Have you ever thought about how you’re going to have that dog for like the next fifteen years of your life? I mean, think about how much will change during that time, and your dog will be around for all of it – your wedding, your first house. That dog could meet your kids. Have you ever considered what a huge commitment that is?” I blurted the truth: “Actually, she won’t be around for any of that. My dog has cancer.”

“Oh.” Yeah, I dropped the C-bomb. Sure, it’s maybe not the sexiest move on a first date, but with his obvious commitment issues, it wasn’t going to work out with Matt anyway.

This is certainly not my first brush with the Big C. My mom had cancer, my grandma who practically raised me died of cancer, and my dad has cancer. I’m beginning to wonder if scientists should research if I, in fact, cause cancer. Because it appears that like a morbid King Midas, everything I touch turns to some form of the disease.

When the biopsy came back and I discovered that my dog, Monkey, tested positive for a somewhat aggressive form of breast cancer, the vet told me to decide how much I wanted to spend. In effect, I should put a price tag on her. I began to scan everything in my life and tried to picture a numerical value, like I was suddenly living in a Mastercard commercial. Laptop: $1200, couch: $30 from Craigslist, Dog: well, in theory, “priceless,” but in reality, that’s a much tougher call.

I adopted Monkey, or in more self-aggrandizing terms, I rescued her only a year before her diagnosis. I had always been a “dog person,” but in my late 20s, many of my friends began adopting dogs and suddenly my desire to get a dog “someday” became almost a biological imperative to get one NOW. I can’t wait for the return of the same nasty unrelenting voice when all of my friends have babies in a few years.

So, with literally no choice over the demands in my head, I moved out of my apartment with a strict no dog policy and ditched my roommate to find my very own place where I could have my very own dog. Enter Monkey. Despite being a scared rescue dog, she took to me immediately. It was like she could tell that I deserved her unconditional love more than anyone else in the world. That, and I gave her bacon treats.

I wondered how anyone could have possibly given up such a well-trained, sweet dog, and then I remembered that humans have proven themselves throughout history to be monsters. Monkey took to going on walks immediately, largely because they provided her ample opportunity to eat trash on the streets. One time she even lucked out and discovered a rotting whole roast chicken nearly the size she is, which she carried for a good mile. It shocks me how much disgusting garbage there is on the streets of Hollywood, but it shouldn’t, because after all, humans are horrible.

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Of course, Monkey’s quirks proved to not always be cute and charming. When I had my sketch comedy group over for rehearsal, Monkey, for some reason, was unable to grasp the difference between a skit and real life and began barking the moment anyone raised their voice in a threatening manner. And then there was the little issue of gentleman callers. Monkey had become so protective of me that when I began to, ahem, get intimate with a man, Monkey assumed I was being attacked and so she barked, scratched and whined to alert the neighbors of my assault. That little c**kblocker.

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  • Stacie Grim

    Hi Julie – thanks for sharing your thoughts “out loud” – I’m glad I’m not alone. I have an older dog and the lumpier he gets the more I worry, but I do try to take every day as a bonus. He even comes out running with me which is wonderful. Rescues are the best. Have a great day.

  • Jen Haught Casasanta

    I LOVE this article! I just went through this a couple months ago with my 14 year old Jack Russell, Lola. I can relate to everything you are saying especially the c**kblocking- it took about 6 years for her to really “accept” my now husband;), trying to appreciate all the moments- even the really disgusting ones, and the ridiculous guilt you feel about spending or not spending with the medical care. She was like my smart, scrappy, mouthy, funny, rotten child and I miss her daily! Oh, and I only made it a few weeks before heading to the shelter for my next pup. Lola could absolutely never be replaced but it gave me a chance to smile and another shelter pup a chance for a great life! Best wishes to you both!

  • Jan Cross

    We have already decided that when the time comes for our ten year old dog, who we LOVE! We won’t put her through painful medical treatment either.

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