Ben in his 7th year

A month ago to the day, Ben, my boxer dog, was diagnosed with lymphoma.  It’s hard, but that’s life.

Since then Ben’s treatment has been adjusted a few times, I’ve come to judge dog food by how well it’ll disguise medication and I’ve learnt to appreciate injectable anti-emetics.

More importantly, Ben is his lovable, clownish self and I’ve already enjoyed his company for longer than nature would have allowed (without medical intervention).

As they say in the media: This is a developing story.

It was a cold Friday afternoon on May 7, 2021, and I had been crouched uncomfortably on the floor next to the low table where Ben had been subjected to a number scans for what had felt like days when the specialist vet paused and looked straight at my fogged-up glasses.

Then she said, “Okay. So, it’s bad.”

And before that could really sink in she added, “But you knew that when you walked in here.”

She was right.  Although a small part of me had desperately hoped that she could just fix him up, I knew that would not be the case.

Sooner or later bad news comes your way — that, too, is life.

Ben is 6 years, 8 months and 4 days old today. He has stage IVb multicentric lymphoma. He’s responding well to treatment.

Boxers typically have a life expectancy of 10 years. Neither of my previous two boxers reached 10.

It is now likely that lymphoma will eventually take Ben, and it most probably won’t take 3 years.

But life can’t really be measured in numbers.

I want to stop short of stringing together a bunch of cliches about the fragility of life and the need to savour it.

What I will say is this: Now more than ever my heart goes out to everyone who has had to face a process like this under any circumstances whatsoever.

I’ve loved Ben since the first time I saw him. Every day with him is precious and even when the inevitable heartbreak comes — it’ll all still be worth it a thousand times over.