As you will soon understand, what I write now has been heavily on my mind for more than three months. A week before our arrival in Marquette, we brought Laylabelle, our standard Poodle, into our Knoxville veterinarian for her regular teeth cleaning. The vet removed a small skin tag from her gumline and said he didn’t think it was anything serious but would still send it off to the pathologist.
A week later, we had just moved into our summer digs and Terri was sitting at the kitchen counter when her phone rang. It was our vet calling to tell us that the pathologist found the skin tag to be metastatic melanoma. That meant that Laylabelle’s lifespan would be measured in weeks rather than months or years. He ran through some medical alternatives which included things like removing part of her jaw followed by chemotherapy. But that would not likely add more than a year to her life, and she would be very debilitated for most of that time.
To say the least, we were in a state of shock. After all these years of planning to have a great summer up on Lake Superior, we were looking at watching our beloved animal companion sicken and die. The skin tag that was removed soon turned into a tumor, and Terri kept track as it grew large enough to impair her eating. At that point, we made the decision to have our Marquette veterinarian remove the tumor although he cautioned us that it would return fairly soon, and with greater force. But it did give Laylabelle an additional month of a happy life up here on The Lake. She also got to go to Milwaukee with us and visit the grandkids and Shoshana and Karl’s beautiful dogs, Jazzie and Dottie.
Five weeks after the surgery, Laylabelle’s tumor was back with a vengeance. Now covering two teeth and bleeding. While Laylabelle continued to walk with a spring in her step and shower us with affection, she lost the ability to eat regular dog food. This week, she had trouble eating soft, canned food and things like the scrambled eggs I brought her from our hotel breakfast.
At 4:30pm today, we brought Laylabelle to our Marquette vet and two vets agreed that the time had come. Not only was the tumor inoperable, but in all likelihood the melanoma had spread to other parts of her body. By 4:45pm, our beautiful puppy of eleven years had slipped away from us. In a few days, her ashes will join her older foster-sister Nina de Amor on the coast of The Great Lake.