Twice, Lily was bitten on the nose by a rattlesnake. The results were about the same both times: a badly swollen nose, pain medication for a few days, and no other consequences other than a scar on her nose. On both occasions she was bitten at some point during the day when both of us were at work. We didn't discover the bites until hours after they had occurred, so there was no use giving her antivenin.

She knew enough to avoid rattlers when they rattled, so we assume that when she was bitten, she'd stuck her head into a snake burrow or surprised one who didn't have time to rattle.


Because it's so hot here, we shave the hairier dogs for the summer, Lily included. Oddly enough, when we shaved her in 2010, her coat refused to grow back. Exams and blood tests followed because the concern was that she had Cushings Disease or another illness, but all tests came back negative. She was tentatively diagnosed with a condition called Alopecia X, which causes hair loss in dogs for reasons that are still unknown.

We gave her melatonin for quite some time in the hope that it would help. Eventually, her coat started coming back in a patchy fashion, making her look like a well-worn stuffed animal. After about a year, it finally looked normal again.


On the morning of July 10, 2011, Lily was acting like she'd eaten something that disagreed with her. She didn't want breakfast and seemed depressed. Since she'd been fine up until that morning, we suspected that she had an upset tummy. Chris took off to run errands in town while I kept an eye on her.

For some reason, she started making me nervous. Maybe it was because she'd really never been sick before and I wasn't used to seeing her looking depressed, but whatever the reason was, I took her to the emergency vet. She perked up at the animal hospital and I began to suspect that I had seriously overreacted. On examination, however, the vet found that she was quite tender in the abdomen.

An x-ray revealed a large, sharp fragment of bone in her stomach - probably something she'd found in the yard. That seemed to explain everything. We opted to hospitalize her overnight and take another x-ray in the morning to see whether the bone was likely to pass through on its own. If not, we'd need to do surgery.

The next morning, the animal hospital staff reported that Lily looked quite normal and had even eaten breakfast, so they anticipated watching her a little longer, then sending her home. When I spoke to the vet, she said she wasn't sure that another set of x-rays was really necessary. Because no one had actually seen proof that the bone had passed through however, I opted to have them done anyway. Sure enough, the bone was still there, if a bit further down in the digestive tract. Also, her pain medication had worn off by this time and she was obviously tender in the abdomen again. We decided to do surgery.

The vet said that she would call at about 5:00 p.m. when Lily was out of surgery. When she called much earlier, I knew there was a problem. She told me that when she opened Lily's abdomen, it was filled with blood. Looking for its source, she discovered that Lily's liver was riddled with tumors, one of which had ruptured. The ruptured tumor had caused the symptoms and the bone was just an incidental finding.

The cancer wasn't treatable and if we'd just let her have whatever time she had left, another tumor was very likely to rupture and kill her. Euthanasia was the only sensible option at that point. It was all so sudden, unexpected, and devastating. After the shock wore off though, we realized that at least she'd been spared the symptoms caused by the cancer itself and had not felt bad at all until the tumor ruptured.