Sunday, March 9, 2008

On second thought...

Charlie at the petroglyph wall on the Hidden Valley Trail in Moab, UtahWe were in Moab, Utah over the weekend so Nan could run in the Canyonlands Half Marathon, like she does every year. While she was racing on Saturday morning, Charlie and I hiked the Hidden Valley trail just south of town. We like it because it's dog friendly, unlike the nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and it's usually not too crowded because it starts with a grueling rocky climb. The photo shows Charlie at our turnaround spot, a wall of ancient petroglyphs about two miles from the start. Click the photo for a larger version that shows the petroglyphs better.

As we were walking, I paid careful attention to Charlie for signs of his mouth bleeding or his endurance flagging, and I stopped frequently to squirt water from my CamelBak for him to drink. With his cancer, I wanted to make sure he didn't overexert himself. Fortunately, it was a cool and overcast morning, so the usual desert heat was not a factor. We have done this hike in the past when it was so hot that Charlie would stop and rest in every patch of shade.

Naturally, as I followed him up the trail, I was thinking about Charlie and his cancer, and something occurred to me. Charlie is one of those golden retrievers who spends about half of his waking life with a tennis ball in his mouth, or at least he did until we took them away to avoid aggravating the tumor in his mouth. I wondered if maybe the tennis balls had something to do with his cancer. Is there some chemical in them that is carcinogenic? A freshly opened can of tennis balls certainly smells toxic, but are the contents actually harmful? I searched on Google for "carcinogenic tennis balls" but not surprisingly, there were no good matches.

I think this was a kind of wishful thinking, a need to know the answer to the question of why this has happened. The veterinarians say there is no answer, but there's still a nagging feeling of guilt and regret: if only we had done something differently in Charlie's life, none of this would have ever happened. That's the problem with "why" questions. Even if we knew the answers, they wouldn't change what has already happened. All we can do is cope with the present situation as best we can.

1 comment:

Lori said...

I stumbled across your blog and I am really sorry about your dog's illness. It is amazing at how deeply they can maneuver into our hearts! But after reading your post, I couldn't help but wonder if there was something to your feeling about the tennis balls - apparently, you are not the only one with this suspicion. Check out http://caninecancerblog.blogspot.com/2007_12_01_archive.html I do hope you are able to enjoy many more years with your friend!