September 25th, 2008

Cut cuddle and be Cute

Me and Julio both in pain

As usual lately, I'm writing with an apology for not writing lately. Things have been very crazy lately with school starting, my health taking offense to school and now Julio needs surgery. He's got a large cyst (non-cancerous thank God I say with reverence). The cyst is where his harness hits, just behind his front left paw on the chest. It's in the skin from what they can tell and it's not attached, but it's causing him pain. It's amazing how big these things can get and how painful they can seem. I can recognize several pain behaviors which I know all too well from my own struggle:

  • Several people have said that "something doesn't look right in his eyes" and asked if he's tired. I should clarify, before anyone asks, that these are people I know and trust and they've approached the topic with gentleness, respect for my relationship with Julio and no intention of saying they know more about my dog than I do. Pretty much every guide dog handler can point to interactions where someone thinks they know more about what should be done with the dog even though they've only seen the dog for five seconds. This was not the case with anyone who'd made the comment.

  • Julio's pull in harness has gotten really bad over the last week and a half and it's not just from testing. I've tried different environments and everything I can think of and nothing has helped. I've had to work really hard at avoiding suitcasing my dog. (This refers to a frowned upon practice where the guide dog handler is overstepping their dog. It's so named because the dog's harness handle is pointing upward, much like the handle of a suitcase.)

  • He's avoiding the harness, even though he loves to work.

  • Friends and the vet noticed irritation over the lump. Even with padding on the harness, this hasn't gone away.

I've never had to make this type of decision, but it's one which has to be made. There is a lot to it, and Julio's not going to be able to work while the stitches are in because of where the cyst is. But I can't ask my dog to work in pain anyway, so without removing the cyst, his work would be very limited. Also, the bigger these things get, the more involved the surgery is. It doesn't make this any easier though. And my anxiety is pretty high due to the pain I'm in, school stressors and my fear around Julio's surgery. I have yet to have a surgery go as planned for me, so I think that my concern is somewhat justified.

For those who pray, please pray for both of us. Pray that the surgery goes well and healing is good for Julio. Pray that the vet's job is easy and the surgery isn't difficult. Finally, please pray that I manage the anxiety well enough to be of help to Julio this weekend. I still remember how angry he was over the biopsy in June, I'm afraid it will be worse this time.