Late at night on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend — 12 days ago at the time of posting this — my Golden retriever and I were camping in Tennessee when suddenly a swollen lymph gland appeared in her neck. Friends located a vet in Nashville and she was there the next day. She was diagnosed with lymphoma, which is terminal. Because of the holiday weekend, no lab results would come in before Tuesday and no veterinary oncologists were working. There was nothing to do for her in the coming three days.
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Roo is a sweet, kind, seven-and-a-half-year old girl who has profound fear issues. When I adopted her seven years ago, she had been left to be euthanized in a high-kill shelter, deemed too petrified ever to recover. We've been traveling the United States in a small camper for four years, and she's come a long way — you'd never know she was as fearful as she is if you just saw her walking around — but thunder terrifies her. In the summertime, the south is all thunderstorms all the time. I knew she would stand no chance of surviving cancer treatment if she was always terrified, unable to sleep, panting and trembling, and if the fear didn't kill her, the high temperatures would.
The 10-day forecast was nothing but thunderstorms and temperatures in the 90s, so I decided to evacuate her to Maine, where we have friends and where there is a fine veterinary oncologist in Scarborough. We made the 1320-mile drive in the two days during which no oncological treatment for her would be possible because of the holiday, arriving on Sunday. The lymphoma was advancing at an incredibly rapid rate. She was weak and sick.
On Monday, Roo was in the ICU at the hospital. On Tuesday her chemotherapy began. It’s hard to say what the prognosis is. This form of cancer will kill her, but if she responds to chemotherapy — and she appears to be — she will feel good enough to enjoy her life for some months to come.
Finding a suitable place to live is difficult. We need a place that is, above all, quiet. Because she was imprisoned as a puppy, probably in a bathroom for the first six months of her life, Roo has some developmental issues that make her scared of any sounds when she can't see them being made. TVs in another room or footsteps frighten her. She needs rest. It might also become difficult for her to climb stairs, which further rules out a large number of potential rentals.
Roo is completely non-destructive. She's quiet. I've never heard her bark indoors, and outdoors only rarely. She is gentle, friendly, docile and clean. As deeply troubled as she is by fear, she never troubles anyone else.
I am 60 years old, have a credit history that shows I pay my bills on time. I don't drink, smoke or use drugs. I don’t have friends over, make noise, complain or create drama. My only vice is playing the mandolin, and considering how bad I am at it and how annoying that is to Roo, I won’t be doing much of that now that Roo is ill. I’m a writer and I work quietly at home. I can provide any number of impeccable references from easily verifiably trustworthy people. I’m neat, clean and handy and I will leave any property we live in in better shape than when I found it. Location doesn’t matter — in the country would be preferable — as long as I’d be able to get Roo to the hospital in an emergency.
We’ve been having no luck at all finding something Roo could tolerate. I’ve never posted anything like this, but I’m desperate to find Roo a place where she will have the best chance of recuperating.
She’s feeling much better now that the treatments have begun, but we’re stuck in the camper in which we were traveling, and it’s too small even for her to wear the elizabethan collar she has to so she won’t lick her IV site.
So, the goal is to find a quiet place where Roo won’t have to climb stairs or hear noise. It doesn't need to be large at all, even something as small as 600 square feet would do. Her hospital is in Scarborough, Maine, just south of Portland, so it's got to be within an hour or so of that. It doesn’t have to be in the greatest shape, just quiet. Month-to-month would be better, but a lease is okay, too. My maximum is $1000.