On Thursday afternoon, Charlie the golden retriever was as happy as ever, rolling around the grass on his back with an expression that looked very much like a smile.
Becky Fjelstad, Charlie's owner, said the 6-year-old dog is back to his normal, happy-go-lucky self.
Things were not looking that bright for Charlie in March, when he was afflicted by a tumor just behind his right front leg.
A veterinarian told Fjelstad he might have to remove six or seven of Charlie's ribs, his right front leg and maybe part of his lung.
Fjelstad, who lives in Bath, didn't want to put Charlie through that. She couldn't picture him, “as rambunctious as he is,” missing a front leg.
On April 19 in St. Paul, Minn., doctors removed the tumor, which weighed more than 3 pounds.
But that was all they removed.
The doctor came out of the surgery, a smile on his face, after an hour and a half, which was a lot shorter than it was supposed to take.
The tumor had been removed.
“Got it out in one piece,” said Fjelstad's mother, Connie Kaul.
Since then, the dog has undergone chemotherapy and radiation. The radiation, which began in mid-May, lasted five days a week for five weeks.
Why does Fjelstad think Charlie pulled through?
“Because he was young enough, he has such a good sense of humor, he's so full of life and he's got so many people that love him,” she said. “He is shown love every day.”
Connie and Elroy Kaul, who live in Aberdeen, had a dog and a cat when their six kids were young.
But Fjelstad wasn't a dog owner from the time she was 18 until she was 45. Fjelstad was talked into buying a dog by Mike and Sherry Bice, who had two puppies left from a litter of seven. At the time, the group was camping at Richmond Lake. Fjelstad resisted the idea at first, but one of the dogs seemed to like her.
When Fjelstad went home, Charlie went with her.
“Best thing I've ever done in my life,” she said.
They have become very close.
“It's the child I never had. He goes everywhere with me, except work,” said Fjelstad, a manufacturing analyst at Banner Engineering.