In terms of time and interests, my life is pretty much divided into three parts: my work life as a professor at Humber College, my writing life with the Penny Brannigan mystery series and my family.
My immediate family is tiny: my son Lucas and my dog Dolly. Lucas is grown up and takes care of himself, so that leaves Dolly, our Australian cattle dog mix. Her pretty, unusual marking that everyone admires is called blue merle.

Dolly girl

A week ago today, on Friday, Sept. 17, Dolly had an operation to remove a growth from her underside, a few inches behind her left front leg. She’s recovering well from the surgery, and will get her stitches out a week today. We had some problems keeping the bandages that covered the incision in place — they kept slipping back towards her tail but for a few minutes she looked awfully smart in her bright pink wrapping. She’s now wearing an old, clean T-shirt donated by Lucas to protect the site when she sits or lies down.

The vets weren’t sure what the lump was … thought it might be a fatty mass called a lipoma. They still didn’t know when it was removed so it was sent away for testing. This week we learned that it’s called a spindle cell tumor. Dolly has cancer.

Dolly is 12, which probably seems like a good age for a dog and maybe it is. We’ve had her since she was four months old when my ex-husband saw a sign in the bank in Wiarton, Ontario, that read “Free to Good Home.” She’s been loved every day since, and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer dog. She’s easy going, keen to please, friendly and affectionate. Oh, I know everyone thinks his or her dog is the best. Dolly lived for her first five years with Steve in Wiarton, and then, when he took a job that required travel, there was no question where she would live. By then, she and I had bonded and so Dolly came to live me with seven years ago.

For the past four years, while Lucas was away at university, it’s pretty much been just Dolly and me. I always work my routine around her needs, love taking her for her morning walk, make sure she eats well and stock up with all her favourite treats.

So far, Dolly is very healthy and shows few signs of illness or aging but I have to accept the reality that that is going to change. The tumour she had removed is good in one way, because according to the vet, it is not the type to spread. But the bad news is that it does return. There’s a drug protocol that can help slow or reduce the risk of that, so Dolly will be taking the medication and we hope the results will be good. The vet mentioned four hundred and some days as the length of time we would hope to stave off the return of the tumour.

A year ago, I remarked to a friend that my life was in a good place. “I have a job I enjoy at Humber, I am fortunate to be a published author, my son is doing well at school and Dolly is great.”  Everything was fine. But things will change, I said, quoting George Harrison. “All things must pass.”

It looks as if the reality I’ve been dreading is starting to creep in.

So today we sat out back, Dolly and I. I marked a few papers and  she gazed at the lake, enjoying the light breeze that ruffled her fur.

I’ll be attending Word on the Street at Kitchener on Sunday and Dolly is coming with me. Every day with her is precious.


8 thoughts on “Dolly

  1. Hi Elizabeth

    I’m sorry to hear about Dolly, keeping her comfortable and spending as much time as possible with her is the best you can do !

    She is a very pretty girl and lucky to have such a great Mom


  2. Dear Dolly…sorry to hear you have been unwell but I can see you are happy and lovingly cared for by your family…have a few treats on me…take care…your markings are so beautiful..

    • Thank you Bettyann — She’s doing really well. We went to Word on the Street today and she had a great time. Her energy is back and she’s recovering from the surgery. Stitches out this week and she starts on her medication. She was very pleased to hear that you said she should have a few more treats and sends a friendly woof!

  3. We knew the surgery went well but somehow missed the biopsy results. Although we all know the inevitability of life the reality of the fact is totally unwelcome.

    My Christie was diagnosed with a fast growing cancer, after biopsy, when she was 12. Watched carefully and lovingly, cared for, she was with us til 15. We had to assist her to pass but it was the right thing to do. As with decisions regarding continued living…Pain is Inevitable but Suffering is Optional. So when her pain became obvious to us we helped her. I have always felt for my companions that at the point I am causing the pain because I can’t abide losing their love, the greatest gift I can finally give them is peace.

    I suspect that Dolly has much much much time yet to spend with you. She is a strong girl with great insight and knows good attitude is the best medicine. She also knows you will take wonderful care of her as she will of you until it’s her time. When that time arrives Dolly will be content and will tell you she is leaving. And if she needs your help to do so.

    Until then Dolly just wants you and her to live as always. Together, walks, good food and cuddles, watching out for you as you do for her. If I had to guess, it would be a toss~up as to who benefits most from the companionship, I’m sure you would say “It’s Me”. Dolly would absolutely disagree and say “Woof {It’s Me}”

    • You’re making me cry! Dolly is back to being her old self. I had a down kind of day on Friday but seeing her doing so well reminds me not to mourn the living and we are going to cherish our time together and enjoy everything that every new day brings!

  4. Hi Elizabeth

    I did not know that Dolly was sick until just now. My head has been under the pile with assignments. I am really sad to hear your news. Thanks for writing about Dolly’s history. Her story is certainly intertwined with the other parts of your life. I hope you both are enjoying these lovely fall days.

    Take care, Reb

    • Hi Rebecca, She’s actually doing quite well. I’m going to post an update over the weekend. Thanks for your kind thoughts. If we could do one thing to improve the design of dogs … they would live much, much longer.

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