Joshua’s Journey, told by Joan C.
Joshua was born on May 3, 2005 from a local Golden Retriever breeder in upstate New York. He had a very sweet, fun-loving, playful temperament, and was the greatest joy in my life. Since we had no children, Joshua was the closest thing to a human child that I will ever know.
The name Joshua was chosen well before we realized the true gift of his name to us. Besides eating his meals and swimming, his favorite activity on this earth was to ride in his Jeep - anywhere, anytime.
Although there was no definitive cause of his cancer, below is Joshua’s brief diet and medical history:
• He ate “Taste of the Wild” kibble (Pacific Stream Salmon) along with occasional human food, and of course, cleaning the ice cream bowl. In addition, he loved occasional fish oil supplements. He was always the appropriate weight for a Golden of his size.
• Joshua was neutered at 16 months of age, with no complications.
• Vaccinations were combined from the start (DHLPP annually - Rabies is mandatory every 3 yrs in New York). We have since staggered vaccinations for our newest arrival Gabriel, based upon research citing issues arising from the vaccination sites.
• August 2008 (3 yrs. 3mos.) – Joshua had a mass in his neck of unknown origin which dissolved with antibiotics after a month.
• March 2009 (3 yrs. 10 mos.) – the mass in Joshua’s neck re-emerged vigorously and was so large (softball size) that he could not swallow and needed emergency surgery. The mass was removed and sent to Cornell for histopathology, which showed no definitive origin. We were told to monitor the area for any signs of reoccurrence. Nothing ever reoccurred in his neck.
• July 2009 (4 yrs. 2 mos.) - Two small fatty tumors were noticed along the right side of Joshua’s spine. Vet recommended monitoring, which we did and they never changed in size.
• December 2010 (5 yrs.7mos.) – a tumor was removed with clean margins from Joshua’s left hip near his tail bone, not in his bone. Cornell histopathology results were a Grade II Soft Tissue Sarcoma. We were told to monitor the area for reoccurrence, which it never did.
• February 2012 (6 yrs.9 mos.) – Joshua started to show signs of lethargy so we brought him to Vet for bloodwork which showed he had Lyme Disease even though he had the Lyme vaccine every year and we applied Frontline Plus 6-7 mos per year. This past winter was quite mild so we thought that maybe there were more ticks than usual. He was prescribed Doxycyclene (100 mg2x/day) for 30 days. He never responded very well so we brought him back to vet for more bloodwork which showed higher than usual phosphorus levels, but everything else was normal.
• March 29, 2012 – Oncologist visit for numerous fast growing ulcerating nodules on his skin (groin and, shoulder area.) Oncologist told us that this was a reoccurrence of the previous tumor (soft tissue grade II) and the prognosis was very poor because it is Histiocytic Sarcoma. We were devastated (and still are) since we had never been told that is what he had before. Joshua immediately had the tumors removed and sent to Cornell for histopathology.
• April 4, 2012 - Histopathology showed Grade II Fibrosarcoma, not Histiocystic Sarcoma. We scheduled an appointment at Cornell for Tuesday April 10 to discuss treatment options.
• April 7, 2012 - Joshua was not sleeping well at night and he was definitely in pain with difficulty settling and breathing. He started to cough slightly. I brought him out early to watch the sunrise and birds together and take him for a ride in his Jeep. He was happy until the ride ended and then he would not get out of the Jeep. He started to cough up blood and I knew.
I brought him to the Vet for Chest X-rays which showed 5 masses in his lungs. Although he showed energy and love, I did not know what Joshua wanted me to do. So that afternoon, we met with an animal communicator in Saratoga NY - which will always remain with me as a very special moment in our journeys together. That afternoon we decided to fight the cancer - changed to strict cancer diet, even trying Essaic tea – which he did not like.
... his last few days were spent swimming, wading, hiking, visiting family and friends, eating his favorite meals, and his favorite above all else - RIDING IN HIS JEEP.
We spent one night together watching 'Finding Nemo' in the Jeep…that was memorable!
• On April 10, only six days after the terrible diagnosis, and 23 days before his 7th birthday - Joshua was very clear that he did not want us to go to Cornell. We took him to the bridge that afternoon and watched him sail to the other shore.
Now Josh is there and he is everywhere. I am grateful that God sent such an amazingly beautiful, fun-loving, happy go-lucky spirit our way to share some time with us and to teach us His ways… The bond with Joshua is the deepest I have ever experienced with the 8 Goldens that have shared in their journeys over the past 7 years - I am sure the reason will become clear as time goes on - I am open, aware, and listening...
We found a hand-carved wooden plaque named COURAGE in a barn-store in PA back in 2005 which I proudly hang above the deck door where he loved to look over the beautiful Hudson Valley:
“Be Strong and of Good Courage
Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed;
For the Lord your God is with you
Wherever you may go.”
We are going to make it though incredibly heart-broken - and I thank Josh for sending us an unquestionable sign of his freedom, overwhelming joy, and peace…. Shortly after Josh went to the Bridge - a transient bird call captured my attention outside and I looked up and lo and behold!! He was running like the wind, at peace, greeting all the great Human Companions like him with his wagging tail and a smile on his adorable puppy face!
May the Golden Light of Love Shine on You Always… I cannot wait to see you again my dearest friend!!