Why Is This Dog So lumpy?!

I have to explain the title. The Seppa-Tebby-Tebby nephew has this game that he likes to play where he gets into your chair and squishes himself really small at the back of the seat. Then you’re supposed to sit down on the chair, lean back and say “Why is this chair so lumpy?!” Then you reach back, find him, act surprised and maybe give him a few tickles, and he giggles his face off. Then he wants you to do it again, and again, and again!

But unfortunately this post isn’t about his silly games. It’s about how Tansy has mysteriously turned into a lump factory.

I’ve been accumulating some Tansy thoughts, and among them was the fact that she had acquired some more lumps. First, at the end of April, there were two more, and then a wee tiny one showed up in September. The two more were definitely lipomas, or fatty lumps. The wee tiny one is in the muscle and difficult to sample, but they’re pretty sure that one’s fine too. and then last week, I saw three more lumps. When I saw three more lumps show up super quick, it made me nervous. So I scheduled an appointment with the vet. Even though I was nervous, I was sure the techs would laugh at me and the lumps would all be benign. Oh if only.

I pointed out the three lumps I had noticed, and they pointed out one I had missed, a little wart-like thing on her leg. They took her away and did their needle biopsies and said they would look at the cells and be back in 10 or 15 minutes. Then more time went by and I started to wonder what was up.

When they finally came back, they told me that one lump was definitely a lipoma, and the other two that I pointed out were really hard to get at so they weren’t sure if they were getting the right cells, but the one on her leg was definitely a mast cell tumour and needed to be surgically removed.

I’m still confused about what mast cell tumour means, because I swore when Babs had her mast cell tumour, they called it a benign mast cell tumour. Maybe they called it a grade 1 mast cell tumour and I took that to mean benign? Somebody help this dumb human understand. Is it cancer, and if it’s cancer, does this mean who knows what? Or are mast cell tumours cancer in the most technical sense of the word, i.e. mast cells aren’t doing their mast cell job and have decided to form a colony, and once the colony has been evicted, we don’t have to worry? Or does it depend on the grade of the tumour?

Anyway, they said they could get her in on Friday to do the surgery, and they would check the difficult lumps when she was snoring and would be easy to fiddle around with. When they did, two of them made them not so comfortable, so they came off too.

Tansy looks a bit like a patchwork quilt, with three big shaved spots. One is on the inside of her left front leg, one is on her chest near what I call her front right armpit, and one is on her back on the right side. They sent the masses away for testing. I guess I’ll know more in a week or two.

Tansy does not appreciate her new accessory, the cone meant to keep her from licking and chewing on her incisions, although she has learned to live with it. When we came home Friday night, she was convinced she couldn’t fit in her bed while wearing her cone, so sat or stood there screaming blue murder. Part of it was she was begging us to take the cone off, but part of it was she legit wanted us to solve a problem. She was on sleepy night night drugs, and she wanted somewhere comfortable to lie down, and that bed is right there, but she was sure there was no way to get in…”Help help help, yeep yeep yeep!” I was relieved when I was able to show her that she fit in the bed, and the screaming stopped.

But lack of screaming was not a sign of contentment. The next morning when I was getting pictures of her incisions taken to show the vets to check on their healing progress, the Aira agent taking them said her face clearly expressed the sentiment of “It’s a good thing I love you…”

As the day went on, she learned to scoop up and pounce on a squeaky toy and we had to discourage her from rolling around on the floor. In this picture, she was more chill than what we saw in the morning, but she’s still not happy.

Tansy lying in her bed with her "cone of shame" on her head
Give to me back my head!

Let’s just back up a second. They took 3 masses off my dog. That’s a lot of masses to appear at once. I never noticed them before. Did they all just show up, or did I miss them somehow?

But what scares me the most is I thought I was getting pretty good at knowing what felt like a lipoma and what felt different, but boy was I wrong. Had I found the leg one, I probably wouldn’t have thought of it as a lipoma, but I would have thought of it as a harmless little bump on the skin. The one on her chest scared me because it felt hard, but they say it is a lipoma. I was sure the one in her armpit was fat, but difficult to pin down. The one on her back felt slightly weird but not horribly. So judging by feel isn’t something I can do. I’ll just have to continue being kinda jumpy about lumps.

I said that Tansy and Babs had a lot of similarities. Here’s another one. Babs had a mast cell tumour, and when it burst, it spelled the end of her career because the vet thought she would need lots of antihistamines to keep the condition under control.

For the last couple of months I have noticed a degradation in Tansy’s work and wondered if she was starting to edge towards the big r word, retirement. But I was too much of a goddamn baby to start the retrain application process. Could the development of these tumours be the reason for her weird troubles working? If so, Shmans is a real trooper, because when Babs had her mast cell tumours, she could not think about guiding to save her butt. Just ask my shins that met parking meters and my screaming self going down the middle of the road. Tansy never did anything that dangerous. She just walked slower, didn’t want to think to solve problems sometimes and was more distracted than her normal self. Or maybe I’m trying to explain away everything in one little bundle and the work problems have nothing to do with the tumours.

I know that right now, my focus is making sure Shmans recovers from her surgery. The vets seem to think she can work as of today, but I’m terrified I will take her on a city bus or a train and something will hit her stitches and break something or something will happen because of the ice and snow from this lovely new storm that came today. I want to talk to the school and get their thoughts, but until then, I think Shmans will be a very bored dog.

Then the next step is to wait for the results to come back from sending away the lumps. I know that until we get the results back, there’s no ability to plan, but my mind is busy imagining scenarios. Has she got some big bad form of cancer? What will we have to do to keep her well? Are there blood tests we can run to check for more tumours forming before I can feel them? Can we prevent them? How? I know, all of this is fruitless until we know what kinds they are, but my mind doesn’t listen very well to cries of “Shut up and wait!”

So yeah, that’s the latest and not so greatest in the land of Shmans. I imagine these next 8 to 12 days waiting for pathology results are going to be long.

Join the Conversation


  1. She’s definitely not a fan of the cone, although she’s much more resigned to it and used to it than she was. She isn’t smashing it against nearly as many walls now. Remember when you brought her home? I could hear her bouncing off walls all the way from the elevators! It would be nice if she’d stop spearing me with it, but it’s all good.

    And I like your vets, but I think they’re way off base with their working prediction. At best you could maybe walk her around the block on a leash at this point, but no way I’d take her on your normal work day full of trains and busy city blocks and other excitement. That sounds like a recipe for disaster.

    1. I felt like such a jerk howling with laughter as she wobble clanged her way down the hall. The poor beasticus must think I’m a terrible person for not letting her have her usual pre and post-feeding flop and shukh parties on the floor.

      1. If you’re a jerk, then so am I.  I laughed at her too, even at the same time as I felt so bad for her.  She must hate both of us so much right now.  You stop her from flopping around, so she comes to me to try to play and I have to blow her off.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.