The Invincible Candy Bob
By: Connor Lenahan
Today is one of my favorite holidays of the year: National Puppy Day. Today will not mark the first time I’ve written about my family’s dog Candy Bob, but this might be the most important one. Recently Candy Bob had to face some challenges that rival even my weirdest medical experiences.
Candy Bob developed a little mass on his lower jaw back in 2015 while I was up in Boston for school. My mom had been regularly checking in with his local vet about it and we never really thought much of it in the early stages. It was just a little thing he’d get taken out. Or so we thought.
I don’t really remember the specific timeline of when it advanced in severity, but suddenly Candy Bob wasn’t going to local vets for this little growth. He was heading up to Cornell to see their specialists. My parents, ever cautious, undersold the seriousness of the situation, but it was clear that something serious was up. This suspicion was accurate. The growth was fairly deeply embedded into his lower right jaw and was ultimately cancerous.
A day before Spring Break, after months of planning, Candy Bob finally got that mass removed. But it wasn’t just the mass. As friends quickly discovered during visits, Candy Bob ultimately needed to have the lower half of his jaw removed. It was a serious surgery, and when I got home I knew my break was going to be spent comforting our puppy at my side.
To see him on that first day was simultaneously heartwarming and breaking. Our boy was home safe and sound, but he was guarding his face much like I guard my legs after fractures. I knew his hesitation on a personal level. It was sad only because we had to restrict what treats he could have. Normally we toss him pretzels and assorted delights, but his stitches have kept him on a steady diet of salmon and rice – ironically, due to a number of allergies this was already his diet pre-surgery.
It was sad to see one of the happiest creatures I have ever seen so visibly confused. It was rough. But then, suddenly, it wasn’t.
Over the remainder of Spring Break Candy Bob quickly became himself again. When the pizza guy came to the door he was greeted with thunderous barks. Huh, seems like he hadn’t lost a step. To keep him from chewing we had to hide most of his dog toys, yet he’d still grab his teddy bear to bring to my dad or other visitors when they came home, stitches and all.
I was astonished. We all were. Here was a dog that literally had to teach himself how to eat again, yet within days we was back commanding attention, getting into his old hijinks, and basically reclaiming his throne as prince of the house.
I felt a very personal connection to this. I have had to go under for plenty of surgeries in my day for broken bones. I haven’t ever had to face removal of bones, which puts young Candy Bob in uncharted Lenahan territory. But to see him pop back to life was as emotional a sight as I could have ever imagined.
We did notice a side effect of the surgery that has quickly become maybe the most adorable part of a dog that was already flawless. If you’re at all familiar with Unbreakable you’d know my love of Marnie the Dog, a rescued shih tzu with her tongue out always. We hadn’t thought about the fact that his bottom right jaw being gone would make his tongue similarly flop out (slightly pictured above), but if there was any silver lining of this surgery, this was fairly perfect.
Since I’ve come back to Boston I haven’t been able to see Candy Bob on a daily basis, but apparently he is entirely back to normal. But I’ve checked in on him every call home possible to see how he’s doing. Frankly I knew that by the third or fourth night post-surgery that he would be fine. Why? He was truly back to normal by following me to my room and joining me on my bed for sleepy time.
I’ve always thought that I should be the only Lenahan that faces these major health issues, and certainly surgery. I know from experience that I am strong enough to take on the necessary rehabilitation and challenges that come from something. That isn’t to speak ill of my family – they obviously could handle it amazingly, I just like to take that bullet so my brothers don’t.
I couldn’t be happier or more proud to say that I might not be the strongest one in my household anymore. I love Candy Bob, and I can thankfully report that it looks like he is going to be in great health for the long run here. He’s back, better than ever, and cuter than you could ever imagine. National Puppy Day belongs to the Invincible Candy Bob.