Patience is a virtue I am not sure I have - Out of the Doghouse

Do you ever wonder why you decide to do something? We were destined to ask ourselves that particular question more than once over the next few weeks. Fun-loving Sophie, our Airedale terrier, decided to put our love - and patience - to the test.

Sophie, was diagnosed with Lymphosarcoma in November.

The first chemotherapy appointment was difficult. What to expect, will she do all right and what will happen once we get home? Our veterinarian, Dr. Kimberly McClure, has been a godsend. She hasn't just been treating Sophie - but her entire family as well. She has the patience of a Border Collie who knows if they wait long enough something good will come along.

The first treatment was a combination intravenous and intramuscular, followed daily with a high dosage of prednisone.

While Dr. Kim prepared Sophie's leg and gave her the medication, her technician's, Darryl, job was to keep Sophie still by immobilizing her. My job was to keep her head still and talk to her. Not a drop of the medicine can leak onto her skin or it could cause blistering. The stuff is that strong.

You would think my job would be easy but when you factor in the tremendously large lymph nodes in her neck and my own angst at putting Sophie through this, I actually caused her to gag the first time with the extra pressure I placed around her throat.

Of course, at the time, I blamed it on the medication. It wasn't until later during another conversation that the light bulb went on in my pea brain that it was my fault.

Once I got her home, I kept watching Sophie and wondering when she was going to get sick, have an accident, etc. We knew gastrointestinal side effects were possible.

Sophie knew we were worried about her. She stayed close by, often giving us a pathetic look.

The next morning while preparing her breakfast, I told her what a wonderful girl she was and promised to take care of her. She looked up at me and curled up at my feet. I added meat to her food that morning and made sure the water was warm in her feed.

Then it was time to make sure she took her Prednisone. That was another story. Putting it in the food didn't work. Mixing it with meat and hiding it in a bite of food wasn't a reliable trick either.

She had to have the pills. They were part of her chemotherapy. The challenge was to somehow get her to swallow them and not run off and spit it up.

The old "hand-down-throat" method was the only option.

And sometimes that didn't always work well either.

Week two Dr. Kim checked her blood work. She was progressing nicely.

This chemotherapy is a prescription pill and Prednisone daily.

I had to wear latex gloves that were not lined with powder to administer those four pills.

Her lymph nodes have substantially decreased in size. A wonderful sign.

But now she is starting to act nauseous, weak and is not hungry. Definitely not the Airedale from hell she is lovingly referred to as.

Ever since Sophie was young we knew she could fight anything. She has always had a cast iron stomach, never catches a cold and can run circles around the Great Dane Bogey. One of her favorite past times is to play mind games with him. She will steal his bone, lay down with it next to her nose and just wait for him to try to take it back. She will usually growl and walk away with it again. This can go on for hours.

Watching her progress through this chemotherapy has been tough to do and with another 14 weeks to go it is hard to fathom the end. Almost daily I ask myself if we are doing the right thing.

The other day, I took Sophie down into the laundry room where "special treats" are kept. She was thrilled with the attention but had difficulty navigating back up the steps. I actually had to help her back up. It was heartbreaking.

A day or so later, we picked up on a new side effect from the chemo. Sophie was turning into a tyrant.

One day when I came home from work, I was greeted with toilet paper confetti. She shredded and demolished five rolls of the stuff throughout the hallway, living room, dinning room and den. The worse part was when she looked me right in the eye as if to say it was my fault she chose to act out.

Another day she shredded some magazines. And when you look at the degree of damage to the items you can begin to see how angry she was. Again, she told me it was my fault by walking up to me and sitting right in front of me waging her short little tail.

And then there is the 21-year-old feline Prudence. Each time I find the destructive actions of Sophie she manages to walk by at precisely the moment I am ready to scream and purposely positions herself with her back to us. Saying nothing and everything. If she could only talk…

The opinions in this column do not necessarily represent the opinions of this publication. Bridget Albert can be reached at or 876-6800