Tiffany was one of four puppies born to Ginger on January 15, 1990. She was considerably smaller than her two sisters and her brother. I believe it was her tiny size that influenced us the most in making the decision to keep her with us.
Tiffany remained very small. This helped her get into spots where no one would ever imagine she would go. There was one time in particular when Tiffany was about six months old that she did exactly that. One day there seemed to be a lot of activity at our house. A lot of people were going in and out the front door. That evening when I began fixing dinner for the dogs, I realized that Tiffany was no where in sight. I phoned the kids at their friend’s homes and asked if they happened to see her go out when the door was opened. No one had seen her since that afternoon.
Panic began to set in. We went out and walked around the neighborhood for a good part of the evening calling her name and asking everyone we saw if they had seen her. When it was too dark to see anything, we started back home. As we walked back into the house, we heard a noise in the living room. Tiffany had located a very small opening in the back of the lazy boy recliner and had managed to take some toys, a chew bone, and herself through that little opening. Apparently when she was done playing with her toys, she decided to take a nap. She was just waking up when we returned from our many trips around the neighborhood.
Sitting up and begging was the one trick that Tiffany knew, and she knew it well. She improved on the sitting up by adding a front paw wave. I would stand in front of her, she would sit up, I would wave with both hands as if to mimic her, and she would then wave back. This was all a big game to her and she loved it.
When Tiffany was five years old, she showed signs of having back problems — the same kind of problems that paralyzed her mother. Without haste, we took her to the vet who found a couple of calcified disks. The surgery was done immediately but with a warning that the disks might have caused permanent damage. Tiffany was a fighter and was back to her normal self within 2 weeks. She never had another back problem.
In October of 2002 at the age of 12 ½ Tiffany started showing signs of experiencing some kind of pain. The first examinations didn’t reveal exactly where the pain was coming from. One night I noticed a small lump on her left side. The vet pulled some fluid and said the fluid didn’t reveal cancer but we should take her to the Cancer Center in Tampa for further testing. We dropped her off at the Center and spent the day in a nearby mall waiting for a call. The call finally came but the oncologist said the tests they did were inconclusive and a biopsy needed to be performed. Our local vet could do this. So the surgery was scheduled for the following week. The biopsy was done but we had to wait almost a week for the results. The diagnosis came back that Tiffany had a hemangiosarcoma tumor. We needed to take her back to the Cancer Center for treatment options.
The tumor was growing through Tiffany’s body wall. This made it inoperable. The only chance was radiation and chemotherapy. The outlook was very bleak. We were told that this type of tumor in most cases was fatal and that Tiff would probably only live a few months at the most. Her quality was life during this time was uncertain. We opted for treatment if only to make her comfortable but at the same time praying so hard for a miracle that the tumor would shrink enough to be safely removed. Radiation did shrink the tumor, but not enough for surgery. The next step was chemo.
We would have to drop Tiffany off at the Cancer Center on Sunday nights and go back to pick her up on Monday nights. This went on all through her treatments. She had four radiation treatments, eight chemo treatments, and then four more radiation treatments. The growth of the tumor slowed down considerably but didn’t stop. Even through all of this, Tiffany remained in good spirits. Not once did she become ill or complain in any way.
During the second round of radiation treatments I can so plainly see the last sentence in one of the reports sent to us after each visit. It read, “This cancer will ultimately end Tiffany’s life”. The tears still flow whenever I remember this battle we fought so hard to win only to hear that it was hopeless.
Tiffany did fight right up until the end. She became so well known and loved at the Cancer Center and became known to all as “the little trooper.” She never lost her love of life and was so brave all through the treatments and the weeks before her death on July 7, 2003. Even with a tumor the size of a baseball sticking out of her side, she still sat up and waved to anyone who would wave back.
I grieved for Tiffany in the months that followed her death and still grieve for her today. One thing that I have realized, however, is that in a way my prayers were answered when I asked for that miracle. When first diagnosed with cancer, Tiffany was only given two or three months to live with an unknown quality of life. We were blessed with having her for nine months with an excellent quality of life. Tiffany was very special to me and will never be forgotten.
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