About a month ago, our 8-year-old Rottweiler started limping. We took him to the vet, who determined he had an infected toenail that required a partial toe amputation. We scheduled the surgery.

For that week, we kept his foot wrapped in gauze and bandages. We changed it every other day and it seemed to be getting better. Then, on his last day of antibiotics and wrap before his stitches were to come out, his leg began to swell.

We called and got an appointment to be seen early. The vet said he may have a mild infection and prescribed additional antibiotics, some steroids for the inflammation, and a pill designed to flush fluid out of his system. Forty-eight hours later, his leg was back to normal size. He did continue to limp on it some, as if it was sore off and on, but after all, he had only had surgery a week prior, so we didn’t think anything of it.

At the end of that nine-day course of medication, his leg began again to swell. We called the vet who said to bring him in right away. We took him back and the vet checked his leg over for an infection. He pressed on it, trying to find a sore or abscess, and gave us a third round of medication. We were told that if it didn’t help this time, there was nothing more they could do for him, and to take him to the emergency pet hospital.

The following morning, we noticed a swelling on the dog’s chest as well. We decided to make him an appointment with a different veterinarian for a second opinion. They said they couldn’t get us in for three days. So, we decided that if his chest wasn’t better when we got home from work, we would take him to the hospital after all.

The swelling was clearly down by dinnertime. We believed the water pill was working and planned to take him to the second vet as scheduled. I was going to insist on blood tests or X-rays – neither of which had been done by our first doctor. The morning of his appointment, our beloved dog was very listless, barely inclined to walk to the car, let alone climb up onto the seat.

And then, this vet told us after a brief examination that she was leaning toward an aggressive form of cancer that may have been the cause of the weird toenail issue in the first place. She took X-rays to confirm it, while I waited and cried.

When she finally returned, she told me his X-rays showed no signs of cancer, and instead, the fluid in his chest was a deep, internal abscess. She drained as much as she could and told us that, due to his age and how far enough advanced it is, that he may not be strong enough to survive it.

We are trying a very potent mix of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories for a week. If he improves, we will continue treatment. He seems to be feeling better; he’s certainly enjoying the extra treats, snuggles, and love we have been giving him as we prepare for the possibility that his time could be almost up.

I’m just praying it’s not wishful thinking.

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