Today was another typical day. I took Helen in for her echocardiogram. We haven’t heard back officially yet, but our read of the technician’s comment is that all is normal, the chemo has not yet affected Helen’s heart.
You all might remember that Ashton, our large Jack Russell, started acting strangely before Helen’s cancer was diagnosed a few months ago. He started smelling Helen’s breath and for three nights before Helen was admitted to the emergency room he started sleeping outside in his dog house despite the freezing cold. It even snowed one night. I tried twice during the night to persuade him to come in out of the cold. He was curled up in a tight circle and shivering, but he snarled and snapped at me when I tried to get him out of the dog house. Ashton is not a typical, cute Jack Russell like I have seen on tv. He is 26 pounds, very intelligent, and has his own agenda on what is right and wrong. Not wanting to lose a finger, I let him stay in his dog house. He refused to eat or drink for three days – at least in our presence.
After Helen went to the hospital, he stayed outside with occasional trips through the doggie door to look for Helen. He started eating a little but was obviously losing weight. When she returned from the hospital, he went back to his usual self, at least for a while.
In the last few days, a new behavior has evolved. He has become Helen’s shadow. If she sits on the couch for hours, he sits with her. If she gets up to go to the bathroom, he follows and sits beside her. I don’t know how he finds the time to take care of himself.
Somewhat disturbing, I tried to hook the leash on his collar to take him for a walk around the block yesterday. He was sitting by Helen and when I approached him he came at me with his teeth bared. He sleeps between us and He won’t let me snuggle with Helen unless I get out of bed and go around to the other side. Even then, he watches me with a scary intensity.
I am not afraid to use force with him, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. He knows what is happening to Helen and he has taken it upon himself to protect her, to take care of her the best way he knows how. It breaks my heart to see him so upset. I don’t know what this new behavior means; he seems to be one step ahead of the doctors.