Ranger Rick: A story about cancer patient and man’s best friend

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole”Roger Caras

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” — Anonymous

“Whoever says you can’t buy love never had a puppy.” — Anonymous

NOTE: This article is true, just the names were changed to protect identity. “Bill” and “Jimbo” are inserted instead of their real names.

I have a friend Bill, whose health conRanger Rick Art_7_0_0dition is precarious, suffering from different effects of cancer. His wife works during the day while he’s home alone. “Jimbo” is his dog, a little mutt of unexplainable heritage – probably terrier of some sort and maybe some cocker spaniel thrown in. His tail wags constantly when he is not sitting down. He is Bill’s best friend and the dog loves him immensely.

Lately, Bill noticed Jimbo didn’t seem to be as spunky as usual and he napped longer and slept more soundly. When he did awaken and started moving, he acted like he was in pain. Since his veterinarian is a good friend, and he does house calls to those not able to visit his clinic, he stopped and examined Jimbo. He noticed several things. Being a cross breed dog, he suspected his heart might be slightly defective because of short muscle fibers in his heart (he would cough when getting up from a nap), somewhat common in cross-breed dogs as they age. Also, he suspected another source of a problem. He said he would take the dog to his clinic for an X-ray to make sure there were no other issues internally.

Bill reluctantly let the vet take Jimbo to his clinic to do what had to be done. Jimbo wagged his tail and followed the vet to his truck and had to be helped to get on the seat. Bill had a bad feeling his buddy was really sick.

Unfortunately, the X-ray revealed cancer in his pancreas. Small spot, but would soon explode into a larger tumor and terminal cancer.   He returned Jimbo to Bill and told him of his findings and diagnosis. He would quickly get worse and the tumor would grow and take more blood from his body to feed growth of the tumor.

Bill asked how much time Jimbo had. The vet told him not long – a few weeks, maybe a month. After the tears flowed and hugging Jimbo, the vet told him he could make him comfortable with medication and when the time came, he would come to the house to help Jimbo from this world into the next. The vet left a tearful Bill, and they spent the night together, with Jimbo on his bed and Bill attending his every need. He used to jump up on the bed; he now had to pick him up the last week, now he understood why.

With his own cancer concerns, he forgot about his condition and attended to Jimbo. He talked and Jimbo wagged his tail. He spoke throughout the day and at night to the dog, his tail constantly wagging when he heard his name and he wasn’t sitting down. He still had a good appetite and loved his treats, so Bill made sure Jimbo had what he wanted.

He saw Jimbo was slowly fading and he called me. By the time he was telling me about Jimbo’s condition and prognosis, he was in tears. He told me the vet would come by the house when the time came and euthanize the dog. He asked me what I would do. I told him it isn’t what is good for us, as we want Jimbo to get better, but I told him he had to do what was right for the dog – he didn’t want Jimbo to suffer. Bill is alone most of the day, so the thought of losing his friend filled him with dread and sorrow, for Jimbo was always his since a pup, and he loved the dog so much.

Bill finally made the call to his vet friend. After arriving and getting his equipment around, he began the procedure. Bill holding and petting Jimbo, spoke soothing words and the tears flowed freely. The dog seemed resigned to let go of life, as he was sick and weak. The doctor checked for a heartbeat, he told Bill Jimbo was gone.

He buried Jimbo in the backyard under a huge oak tree where they would spend time under the shade of the long limbs. For quite some time, he tried not to speak of Jimbo, because just the thought of the dog brought him to tears. A little piece of his heart and soul died with Jimbo.

My friend clings to life, and he is so lonely. His wife works to keep the insurance for Bill’s condition. He’s had cancer for years, but I don’t think he’s long for this world. I’ve stopped by and he talks about things in his life and how is mine going, and at the end, he brings up Jimbo and how much he misses him.

Do you ever notice how people think more of their pets than other people other than their families? Jimbo happened to be Bill’s best friend, not only because he was a great dog, but he was his constant companion from the time he was a little pup.

If you ever watched the movie from the 1950s “Old Yeller” and you didn’t cry at the end, you have a hard heart, or you’re just not a dog lover. I like to think about Bill and Jimbo just about every day, because they were always happy together and it brings a smile to my face. The dog would be with him all the time and ride in the truck all over the place. He listened to Bill, just like he was human instead of a dog. Smart too, Bill gave instructions, Jimbo obeyed without fail. Both were devoted to each other, loved each other, and developed the special bond between master and dog.

If you ever need a friend, and like dogs, buy a pup (or rescue one from a shelter) – you won’t be sorry and the dog will love you for it.

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