We picked up Lexie yesterday! A week early, because we couldn’t wait. It was very exciting, and we went hiking afterwards on the way home.
All was well until I spotted some ugly growth on Lexie’s neck behind her ear. I got Bob to pull the car over to take a look, and he felt a pretty large growth under the skin. The ickiest part was there was something protruding OUT of the skin – looked like a little plastic tongue. Completely gross and of course scary. I kept asking Bob if it was alive (Alien?!) but he said no, it was like a cyst.
Bob said it was probably a benign growth that we could just have removed and it would be fine. My thoughts were darker: What if this has something to do with why she never grew to normal size? If only I had not read about Mrs. Kelly’s Monster (in a 1979 newspaper article by Jon Franklin – the best piece of non-fiction storytelling I’ve ever read).
In addition, since we’d only owned her a couple hours, pet insurance was not in place. We needed to take her to the vet asap, but insurance won’t cover any pre-existing condition. It felt so unfair. I had visions of biopsies, finding a dog oncologist, surgeries, and couldn’t help mentioning to Bob, “What if she only has six months to live?”
When we got home, I e-mailed the breeder about the growth and asked if he had any idea what it could be. He e-mailed back, “Are you sure it’s not a tick?” My first reaction was, “Of course it’s not a tick! It’s a large subcutaneous growth that has hemorrhaged through the skin! Not an insect bite.”
To be sure, though, I Googled “what does a tick bite look like on a dog?” and had to look at grodie photos. Talk about a combination of relief and disgust at the same time. It really was a tick! I’ve read all about ticks, tick bites, how to remove them counterclockwise – I’m even Red Cross-certified in Pet First Aid. What I’ve never seen is what an engorged tick looks like. I’d assumed it was still a tick, just larger. If you’re in the same boat as me, you must check out this photo, gross as it is, to save yourself the worry we went through.
I called the breeder hoping I wasn’t waking him up, and he coached Bob through removing the thing. He reassured me that I’m not the only one, that he’s heard some vets preparing to operate on “growths” that are really engorged ticks. (The “cyst” underneath the skin is part of the reaction from the bite, for anyone else who didn’t know that.) Ick. But, better than brain cancer, that’s for sure!