that's the day we got baby puppy nico. he was only three weeks old. much too little to be separated from his mama, but it was the only way to save him from life as a bait dog. we had to feed him baby formula.
he was the only boy in his litter- jon bought him for $50 on the side of the road and brought him home for me. they had tried to dock his tail with a rubber band, farm style, but missed the knuckle and it was terribly infected. not a week later, it had to be amputated to stem his growing body infection.
i was in college at the time and had nothing better to do, so we spent all day every day together. going places, driving around, going on walks, working on obedience training, eating burritos. we were inseparable. especially when dharma and greg was on. jon spent the summer working in another city so it was just me and nico against the world.
and it was lovely, and i love him. destiny brought us together. never a grumpier pair who likes to lay on the couch and watch tv shall you ever meet.
in 2006 when we decided to drive to alaska and back there was zero question- nico was going with us. we camped, drove, rode on a ferry, went swimming, and barked at moose and goats and buffalo. he's seen quite a bit of the world, more than 10,000 miles worth; he is wise in it's many ways.
when we lived downtown i would wake up and walk nico in the park every day after i dropped jon off at work. we would climb to the top of the hill and sit and watch the sun rise. one morning a little boy and his mom were walking past our corner while i was loading nico into the car.
mama, look! ...there's a bear in that car! lady! you've got a bear in your car!
but it wasn't a bear, just my nico.
in 2008 we noticed a mysterious lump on the side of his ribcage. he's had a constant stream of medical problems his whole life, all because of that one first body infection. ...or was it? within a week the lump had doubled, he had dropped 15 pounds, he lost all the color in his hair, and we rushed him to a new/better/different vet. a biopsy showed cancerous cells. after much discussion we opted for invasive surgery to try to remove it from his ribs. and... success! his recovery was an incredible relief, though it was slow and hard. he was nearly back to his former glory.
these past few months he seems... older. slower. sadder. i thought maybe he was just starting to get old. and bang is, after all, very annoying (for ALL of us). but he isn't even seven yet.
tired. cranky. thin. and his body infection is back.
a week ago, he started having seizures. they are often, and serious. during them he can't stand, his legs are paralyzed, sometimes he loses control of his bladder, sometimes he howls or has muscle spasms. he goes blind and becomes disoriented afterward. i took him to the doctor for tests right away. we were hoping for hypothyroidism, which is easily treated with daily pills. but hypothyroid dogs get fat... and nico has lost almost twenty pounds despite eating even more than usual.
his bloodwork indicates a few conflicting things, but most likely an insulinoma- a rare and small pancreatic tumor. the tumor messes with the pancreas and causes a drop in blood glucose, similar to a diabetic, which is likely causing the seizures. in humans, insulinomas are benign. in dogs, they are aggressively malignant. but all the symptoms, even going back a few years, point directly to this being the right answer. you can read a little more about it here. there are so many more details, but i probably don't need to share them with you. for now they have him on prednisone, which is a corticosteroid that has had fabulous results in giving him relief in the past. and now we know why- prednisone is one of the "medical" (non-surgical or chemical) management ("management" not "treatment") options for insulinoma tumors.
nothing is confirmed. we have to wait until next week to have more tests run and then possibly have a chest x-ray or ultrasound of his pancreas. so i'm trying to hold off on, you know, freaking out about it. because last time he had cancer i flipped my shit. but it's been a hard week, yo. a long hard week.
there's always going to be a bear in my car.