By Kelly Kaliszewski
December 8, 2009
I would like to be able to say that I chose Cain, but truth be told he chose me. I can still remember when my son brought him home that summer of 1999. He was the funniest looking little puppy, with pink, saggy skin and the most homely expression you’ve ever seen. We all laughed at this funny little guy, while my son made remarks about his eyes and the fact they were two different colors, one blue eye and one eye brown. Cain stayed with Justin for the first year and a half of his life until Justin went back to college in the fall. During Justin’s first weeks at school, Cain went MIA, and I spent countless hours looking for him. For reasons I can’t explain I felt a strong connection to Cain. After several weeks, everyone else was ready to give up when as a last ditch effort, I took out a large ad in the Greeley Tribune and a woman called to say she had Cain. It was shortly after that when Cain came to live with me.
Cain was the model dog. Being an American Bulldog, he was often the recipient of wary looks. About the worse thing Cain could do was to greet you with a great big bully smile and wipe his slimy slobber across your leg. Pretty scary stuff if you had clean pants on! He loved everyone he met and didn’t care about the prejudices that surround the bully breeds. A lesson we can all learn from.
When Cain was around 6 years old, he started having complications with choking and swallowing. We made many trips to the vet but nothing ever proved conclusive. Eventually he started having aspiration pneumonia frequently and we were always on guard, taking x-rays and following up with antibiotics to keep it at bay. It was a preventive x-ray taken in April of 2008 that found a mass in Cain’s lung and a trip to CSU Animal Cancer Center.
Cain had been to CSU a couple of years earlier with the throat issue and I was well aware of their excellent reputation. We initially met with Dr. Barbara Biller and I was overwhelmed with the diagnosis of a primary lung tumor, rare in dogs and difficult to treat. She was amazing as she gently walked us through all of the treatment options available to Cain all the while being truthful about the complexities of lung tumors. The decision to remove the portion of his lung with the tumor in it was made shortly after his initial consult in May of 2008. Cain’s story and what we’re doing to raise awareness for canine cancer continues from here, and I’ve written a blog about the ups and downs of my experience at www.wishcuit.com/cain.
The CSU Animal Cancer Center was a comfort to me during this experience. The staff and students always made me feel like Cain was their only patient, but a quick look at the waiting room let you know there were many others just like us. They always called Cain by name and tried to put him at ease and their compassion and support made such a difference during this time.
I lost Cain on November 12, 2009. On the last day of his life, we took a slow walk along a favorite trail in the sunshine. It was bittersweet and like all of our time together, a moment I’ll cherish forever. He was my favorite teacher, teaching the most important subject of all…the meaning of a moment. We lived life to the fullest. He was my best friend, truly remarkable and my “one in a million dog.” I will be forever grateful to the CSU Animal Cancer Center and the entire students and staff for the extra time I was given with Cain. He had much more to teach me in the extra time I was given and hopefully I’ll make him proud with my efforts to educate others about canine cancer from wherever he is watching me now.
He really did have the most beautiful blue eye…