Eighteen months ago, we had a small but lively pack of three Yorkshire terriers – or terrors as I liked to call them. Then, our thirteen and a half-year-old girl’s health went downhill dramatically over the space of two weeks until we realized that her time had come. Seven months later, her fifteen and a half-year-old brother from a different litter passed away in my arms, leaving us with the tiniest of the three, now a nine-year-old weighing not much over 5lbs.

He injured one of his hind legs in early summer, and when they took the x-rays to determine what to do, they found he also had bladder stones. Thus, in late August, he was going to get surgery to fix both his leg and remove the stones. Then, during pre-operative prep, an alert vet technician found a suspicious lump just below his rib cage. So, the surgery didn’t go ahead that day. Subsequent ultrasounds confirmed he had a growth on his spleen, but thankfully, the radiologist didn’t see any other growths that might indicate generalized cancer. The thought that it might be malign and that we might lose our last dog years before his time didn’t sit well, needless to say.

Earlier this week, he finally had the surgery to remove his spleen along with the growth on it (as well as the bladder stones – the leg surgery will likely not happen until the winter). The surgeon said he didn’t see any other abnormalities, but we’re getting the growth checked by a pathologist to determine whether it was malign or benign.

It’s been a heart-wrenching few days in the Thomson household, watching our poor little guy recover from abdominal surgery. Usually an alert, lively little fellow, with his tail and ears erect, eyes shiny and always ready to give a friendly lick, he’s seemed more like a zombie than our dog. Sometimes, when he looks at me, it is as if I can see reproach in his eyes for putting him through all of this. Other times, I wonder whether he’s about to launch himself at my throat. My wife and I are doing our best to keep him comfortable, but since he can’t tell us what he’s going through, we feel somewhat helpless. We humans do love our dogs, don’t we?

Concern for the little guy combined with a bout of writer’s block has killed productivity on Howling Stars this week, even though I’m less than 10,000 words shy of the end (on a 110,000 word book). It dawned on me during my daily gym session yesterday that one of the reasons for the block stemmed from writing a revelatory scene too early. It killed the story’s momentum, therefore yesterday afternoon, while holding my little guy, I removed it and cleared up the mental blockage. Hopefully, I’ll be able to plow ahead and finish the first draft over the next few days, while keeping a constant eye on my dog. He already seems a bit livelier this morning, but he’s got a few weeks of healing ahead of him, the poor guy.

Back to work on Decker’s War #4. Those vet bills aren’t going to pay themselves.