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Lost my Robin to Lymphoma


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It's been three months and my heart is still breaking with the reality of not having Robin in my life.  Old-timers may remember that I joined nearly 14 years ago to talk about my puppies - Robin and Brodie. and our sweet Ladybug who died at 17 1/2 two years ago (the three dogs in my whatever you call it.)  I was bruised and broken from some pretty tough surgeries including a knee replacement and lung cancer.  I was lying in bed, high on painkillers, looking for information about my soon to be pups.

Well, we waded through puppyhood, through sheep (We still have 10), and fourteen years later, here a I am again - this time there are are no painkillers for the pain in my heart.  When I signed up for a puppy, I was in the midst of lung cancer surgery.  In my grief-stricken moments I feel like Robin took that cancer from me and carried it until the burden became to heavy for him.

There are some treatments for lymphoma but given Robin's age (13 and a half at the time), it seemed better to give him as many good days as were available to him and when the day came that wasn't so good, well there's the heartbreak.  For Robin, every day was a good one.  He never, not once, failed to great me with his usual happy grin and his big white paws on the edge of the bed.  Of course he slowed down, but he was always there, always ready when I looked for him.  That last day I looked out of the window and watched him, knowing he couldn't see me.  He was tired - running on the love in his heart - and he laid down half way across the lawn, head on his front paws.  That night was the first night he ever left my bedside.   I laid down with him in the hallway and he turned his head.  I knew I was making the right decision.  It was time but his heart wouldn't let him go easily.  Because of the lymph nodes  swelling against his throat, he couldn't eat anything except the softest foods and the steroids we were giving him to buy some time were making him so hungry...his final meal was ice-cream which he ate with gusto but it eventually made him sick.   So we went on a short ride to see a very kind and compassionate vet; he died in my arms; I buried him at the end of the sheep pasture above the creek.  There's a stone on his grave and someday when I feel like I can, I will go sit on it.  ETA  The time his cancer metastasized to his death was less than three weeks.

The reason I am posting this in Health in Genetics is I want to know more about the genetics of lymphoma in border collies and its early warning signs.  Have there been studies done on the genetics of different lines?   

I also want to point out in the picture below that Robin (my beautiful red dog of course) had his ears standing straight up.  This picture was taken a little over a year before his cancer metastasized... His ears went all kinds of ways most of his life - mostly one ear flopped and another ear forward (I have pictures if anyone is interested).  This last year, his ears were always on alert... we laughed and said he was imitating his sister (on the left of the picture - she came back to the breeder and then to us  after her previous owners died.) but looking back I now believe that his constant pricked ears had something to do with the lymphoma moving into his lymph nodes.... has anyone ever heard of that?


I would prefer no Monday morning quarterbacking on the end of Robin's life.  I made a decision that preserved his dignity.  He was horrified and ashamed the few times he was sick in the house... he preferred to be outside but it was getting so cold...he was nothing but fur and bones.  The cancer robbed all of the nutrition I could get into him.  I miss him so much that it is nearly unbearable at times.  We have sweet Brodie and Gidget, but Robin was my everything -    He was always there for me - and now he's not.


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So sorry that you lost Robin; I know how it feels to suddenly no longer have the furry individual who took up so much room in  your home and your heart. Just by being there, my dogs are always a huge presence for me.

Even though it has now been years since Jes and Kit died (in my avatar), I think of them every day and remember their quirks and their constant presence in my life with such fondness. I wish I could have just kept those dogs forever. One of my favorite foster dogs also had lymphoma and died earlier than one would have wished. I had kept in touch because the woman who adopted him turned into a sort of friend, so I got to see him over the years.

I, too, would like to know more about cancer in dogs and what might be early warning signs. I wish for you peace in your heart and only the most happy memories of  your Robin.

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Thank you D'Elle.  Yes, all happy memories.  I have to say he was one of the happiest, bombastic dogs I've ever seen.  Brodie and Gidget are simply lost... without him, they don't know how to play. We're back to our silly pet tricks sessions every evening.  They like that.  They will be 14 in March (littermates to Robin).  I expect they will live another year at least.  Ladybug (the small girl on the right) was 17 and a half when she died. She told us it was time to let her go and we did. 

I was prepared for a slow winding down but not this sudden angry attack on his body.  He must have hid it for awhile...I noticed that he was having difficulty swallowing and was only eating wet food... I thought he had a problem with his teeth and then the vet found the enlarged lymph nodes that were pressing on his throat and esophagus making it difficult for him to swallow and to breathe.  Nothing could be done but palliative care.

I signed up for a pup from an expected breeding next spring.  Lots could go wrong and the breeding might not happen;  I might not connect with one of the pups (I get second pick) but it keeps me from going to the pound and scooping up a dog that will be totally unsuitable for me and it gives me time to come to terms with what I want -- and something to dream about.  The breeding is a working dog line but I'm kind of hoping there will be a tri-color (black/white with a bit of tan).  We'll see

That is why I am interested in any research on lymphoma... certain lines etc. might influence my decision. 

Thank you again.

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  • 3 weeks later...

How are your dogs doing at this point? Has it gotten any better for them?

I understand the urge to just GoGetADog. I always try to overlap so that I don't ever find myself without a dog, because I wouldn't last a week without a dog in the house. And who knows where that might lead me.  Have you thought about fostering a dog....even if not a border collie....in the meantime just so you have one in the house and to work with and train and all that good stuff?

 I have been without a border collie for a while, and don't want to get a young BC while my small terrier is so elderly, but at some point I will be in that market again.  I wish you the best of luck in finding the puppy of your dreams, and soon. :-)

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Hello, thank you for asking.  They have adjusted.  We've been playing games to teach them how to work together and they seem a bit happier.

I went through a pretty bad time last week but I know its not the right time for a pup.   I've signed up for a pup out of a litter to be bred next spring.  I will hold out that long and then see what happens...

Hugs to you and your little terrier.


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