This is Koda. She’s my dog, and she’s 9 years old… Two years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer, called Mast Cell Tumor, and had to go through an operation to lift out the cancer. The operation was not successful, the cancer is still in her.
Ari and I often said that Koda is our first child. We adopted her from a shelter two years before the birth of Aina, which makes Koda Aina’s older sister. And, naturally, it’s really heart-breaking when we found out that Koda has cancer. I still cry whenever I think about it… (in fact, I sheds some tears when typing the last sentence).
But, of course, behind every bad news there’s always some good things that can come out of it. We, as a family, have learnt a lot from this. First, eating healthy. As soon as we found out about the cancer, we switched Koda’s intake from processed food (kibbles and canned food) to real, fresh food. They said, the chemical content in the processed food can cause cancer. We also eliminated red meat, and gave her chicken, fish, eggs and lots of vegetables (carrots, pumpkins, greens).
And the change was amazing. Prior to the switch, Koda was at her lowest: she barely had any fur, she was full of ticks, and they didn’t go away with tick medicines. We struggled for about 3-4 months trying to get rid of the ticks before we found out that it was the cancer that caused her crashing immune system, which was the root of the ticks problem. Two days after we switched her diet (with additional vitamins and supplements), the ticks were gone! All gone! And slowly, Koda’s fur started to grow.
This was two years ago…
And we realized how good fresh and real food are. Maybe Koda is genetically prone to cancer, but maybe we, the humans, should also try to avoid those over-processed food as well. Maybe it will spare us from illness and cancers.
Second, a little bit of exercise everyday does the body good. When Koda was still healthy, she didn’t smell at all. We bathed her once every 4-6 months, and she still didn’t smell. But after she got the MCT, her skin is constantly infected with some kind of fungus. We had to bathe her at least once a week with diluted apple cider vinegar to keep the fungus from spreading. And if we don’t take her out for a walk once a day, she will smell even more. I don’t know what it is, but usually after a half-an-hour to one-hour walk, her smell disappears… and she’s happier, too, all smiley and energized. Her walk is her exercise.
So, even though Koda is sick, she still needs her walk to make her happy and healthy. I think, just like Koda, we also need about 30 minutes to an hour of being active once a day. Taking some gym clases if time permits or maybe just walk or jog around the neighborhood. I think it makes us not only healthier, but happier too. Putting smiles on our faces and getting rid of lethargy.
Third, Aina is learning about compassion and taking care of things out of love. It’s easy to play and love a dog that is cute and healthy and ignore the non-fun things. After we found out about the cancer, we told Aina all about it. That Koda is not healthy, and she might pass away from the illness. She will sometimes lose her bladder control become unable to hold her pee in her sleep. She’ll get skinnier and and balder, to the point that Koda is not cute anymore. That things will deteriorate slowly. We have to be patient with her. Maybe it’s because Aina is old enough to understand, Aina and Koda’s relationship is now at its best. They actually listen to each other. They miss each other. Aina can now take Koda on a leash around the neighborhood, and Koda will listen to her commands. And when Koda needs something, like if she needs to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, she would wake Aina up (nudging Aina’s face with her wet nose) to ask her to open the kitchen door for her.
We still don’t know what’s going to happen. All we can do now is to continue to love Koda as much as we did before she got sick, take care of her even though she’s bald, skinny and smelly, and make her happy everyday, as much as she keeps me happy and sane during my tough times.
This entry was also posted in The Urban Mama website.