Ricky has metastatic oral melanoma. When he was picked up, he had a tumor inside his check that was ulcerated and bleeding from being bitten on. The shelter had the tumor removed and got Ricky caught up with his shots and flea control.
Ricky’s cancer is terminal, and this kind of cancer usually metastasizes rapidly to the lungs. Fortunately, Ricky has no idea he’s sick – he’s energetic and happy at this time, and we’ll be watching closely for signs of metastasis. Ricky also has a deformed right front foot that is tender on rough ground. On the grass, though, he’s practically spring-loaded.
Ricky was initially a bit timid and tentative, but within just a few days of coming home he’s exuberantly happy and has found his larger-than-life hound voice. One week in, he’s finally decided that the squirrels might be fun to chase; initially, he wouldn’t go farther than a few yards from me, in case he got left behind.
Between being homeless and having a painful tumor in his mouth, Ricky had been unable to eat all he needed. Now he no longer has to wonder where his next meal is coming from, and he’s not afraid to let us know when he’s ready to eat again.
Ricky’s world revolves around only two things – people and food. He’s silly, friendly, and very snuggly; his happy place is snuggled up next to his human. You’d never know that he’s a senior, the way he bounds around and jumps onto and off the furniture. He has no interest in toys or playing, but he’ll wag 90 miles an hour when he meets a stranger on his walks. He has an entire vocabulary of grunts, moans, whines, and the trademark hound bay, to let you know what he’s thinking.
Ricky moans when he wants your attention, and my coworkers are used to hearing him “talking” to me while I’m on my Zoom calls. For a hound, he doesn’t bay often, but it always cracks me up when I get to hear his “big dog” voice.
Ricky is a champion wagger – I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a dog wag so much or so fast, especially when the baristas get excited to see him through the window. When he’s about to be fed, Ricky sits pretty, grunts his excitement, and drools on his toes.
Ricky’s favorite place in the world is right next to me. He and Phyllis (our other resident ODH dog) have their own loveseat where they can look out the front window, but he’s usually curled up on the dog bed behind my desk or in the doughnut bed inside his crate. If I’m on the sofa, he’ll curl up next to me, and on weekend mornings I invite him up onto the bed to sleep in with me.
Ricky is the sweetest, cuddliest dog I’ve ever met; he would be a lap dog, if he could. He also has the softest, silkiest hound ears, and those puppy dog eyes that make it so hard to say no to him.
Despite the pain he must have been in before his surgery and what he went through in his life before, Ricky is such a great example of how resilient dogs can be, and how they will love you with everything they have, no matter how they’ve been treated by other humans. Ricky may not have much time left but he will be safe and loved for the remainder of his life.
Donors make it possible to give these old pups the care and love they need. So many old dogs become homeless because their owners don’t have the ability – financially or emotionally – to give them what they need. Thankfully Old Dog Haven is there for them.
Update: Dear Ricky had a few wonderful months with his loving new family before the oral cancer made it necessary to say goodbye. Up until the end Ricky really enjoyed every day of love and care. This dear boy will be greatly missed.