Many of us have a dog that is our shadow, a dog (no matter the size) who thinks she is a lap dog. I have a 90 pound German Shepherd who sits on my lap, sleeps on my head, and follows be to the bathroom! If I start to pet her she will roll over and expose her tummy so I can give her a belly run. I can pet her head to toe and she loves it, even encourages it! She can be very cuddly and snuggle with me for hours.
On the other hand, I have a Great Pyrenees. He will bully you into petting is head, bump it against your hand no matter what you are doing until you start to pet him. Sometimes, if you pet him long enough, he will actually fall asleep! But he does not sleep with me. In fact, most of the time he doesn’t even come upstairs when I go to bed. He is perfectly happy sleeping downstairs on the hardwood floor where it is undoubtedly cooler. He does not roll over on his back, unless he is outside rolling around on the grass. He does not snuggle; he does not cuddle. He is perfectly happy with head rubs and then going off to be by himself.
My two dogs are completely different; have completely different personalities. One loves to cuddle and be pet, so I do; the other doesn’t love to be pet, so I don’t.
However, I have learned why I should pet my Great Pyrenees regardless of whether he likes it or not; and why I encourage everyone to pet their pup too…at least once a week.
I brought my Great Pyrenees to the vet in August for his yearly checkup and shots; everything looked good. At the end of August, I brought him to the groomers (by the way, if you don’t know what a Great Pyrenees looks like, think polar bear!) In the middle of October, I took him back to the groomers for a bath. When I picked him up they asked me if I felt the lump on his stomach. I didn’t know he had a lump. The groomer showed me where it was, but I couldn’t see it through all of is fur, only feel it. I was appalled at how large it was!
Of course, I then felt extremely guilty I never felt or saw the lump. I know I could not have seen it because of its location and all of his fur, but if I pet him more, I might have felt it. Granted, it grew quickly. In less than two months it grew to be 11 by 12 centimeters!
I had it biopsied last week, and even in the 3 weeks from the first vet appointment, to his biopsy, the lump grew. They had to shave him for the biopsy, so now the lump is in full view…and it looks HUGE! I cannot believe I did not notice it earlier! I should get the results of the biopsy this week, but I am hopeful.
So, the point of this post…pet your pup whether they like it or not! I would recommend petting your pup from head to toe at least once a week. Pet their tummy, pet their legs, pet their backs, pet everything! Lumps can grow anywhere and everywhere. And although a lump does not necessarily mean cancer, it is still important to take notice of anything out of the ordinary.
Hopefully the lump turns out to be nothing but a fatty tomorrow, of course, due to its fast-growing nature, I will still have to get it removed. This will involve another surgery, so more anesthesia. Although I am not sure how old he is since he was a rescue, he is getting up there in age; anesthesia can be dangerous for an older dog.
Maybe I couldn’t have done anything even if I found the lump earlier; maybe it still would have led to a biopsy and a surgery to remove the lump. But, I wouldn’t feel as guilty because I missed a cantaloupe sized lump on my pup’s tummy!
So pet your pups, even if they don’t like it!
Michelle Turner is a certified dog trainer and behaviorist.