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Published June 19 2011

Swift: Dog endures battle of the bulge(s)

Poor, lumpy Jake.

When he was 3 or 4 years old, my father-in-law pointed out a slight protuberance on his left side (hereafter known as his “driver’s side”).

As new pooch parents, we did the logical thing: We called the U.S. Surgeon General to see if he could fly in to our farm and check out Jake.

OK, that’s an exaggeration. But we really did freak out.

We called the vet, practically shrieking into the receiver that our dog “needed to be seen immediately … he has a LUMP!”

In our opinion, the receptionist did not seem adequately devastated by this news. That’s probably because vets examine lumpy animals every day. Big lumps. Small lumps. Smooth lumps. Lumpy lumps.

It could be a Dr. Seuss rhyme.

But I digress. An appointment was set. The vet saw Jake.

The diagnosis: Jake was

just lumpy. He had a harmless, fatty tumor called a lipoma, which is common in overweight Labs.

The vet didn’t recommend removal, unless the lump started to impede his movement.

And so, for the next five years, Jake walked around with his own built-in sidecar.

It really was quite dramatic. Strangers would stop us and ask what was wrong with our dog.

We developed all sorts of clever comebacks.

We told people he had an alien inside of him. We said Jake came with his own convenient carrying handle. Irwin claimed it was Jake’s unformed twin. We considered tacking a fake mustache on it for Halloween.

But as he grew older, the lump grew in size and scope. It jutted out of his side as if he’d swallowed a softball.

Then he developed other lumps. It became a pastime while watching TV to count Jake’s lumps. They all felt exactly like the original

Elder States-lump, although the offspring were much smaller. At last count, Mr. McLumpington had 17 of them.

Recently, the bulge had become large enough to serve as a shelf for a Hummel figurine. Jake could no longer recline on that side. The vet feared that if he ran in the woods it would get caught on something.

It was time to get rid of it. And so, at the same time we scheduled a growth removal from his eyelid, we also scheduled a lumpectomy.

I thought it would be a simple procedure. After all, the lump was right under the skin. Couldn’t they just stick a vacuum hose in there and do liposuction?

Turns out it’s a much bigger deal than that.

When I picked up Jake, one eye was shaved and edged with black stitches. His whole side was shaved. He had an impressive lattice of stitches. And, most disturbingly, he had a drain, installed to funnel all excess blood and fluid outside of his body.

That’s right. Where I had to wipe it up.

But the final insult was the dreaded Cone of Shame – the Elizabethan collar he had to wear to keep him from licking his incisions.

Jake couldn’t stand it. He thrashed from side to side like a, well, dog with a lampshade on his head. He panted as if his heart would explode.

In the end, I couldn’t stand the suffering. I removed it.

Now Jake just has to tolerate looking like a cross between Frankenstein and a kitchen sink.

Poor baby.

And we’ve learned the moral of this story.

If you don’t like it, don’t de-lump it.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525