(warning: bring tissues - photos are graphic)
Left: Andy in late February 2004. Right: Andy mid-May 2004. (shaved patch on hip)
Andy actually appears better in right photo than he actually is - you can see thigh bones.
In February of 2004 I noticed that Andy's left
eye had a little yellow goo coming out. Not much and it didn't seem to bother
him too much. Since I was having teeth cleaned at this time, I thought perhaps
he had a tooth infection and would send him in for a teeth cleaning. At 10 1/2,
he was in terrific shape. In December he had been out lure coursing.
The teeth cleaning was uneventful. The only thing I noticed was that he would holler and actually growl at me when I tried to give him his antibiotics. (very unusual, Andy has NEVER in all his years growled at me). But I wrote it off as an old man, sore mouth.
Two weeks after the teeth cleaning and off all the medications, I noticed puffiness around his joints. At this time I also noticed an overall lack of enthusiasm and energy, but wrote it off as old age. The puffiness around his joints wasn't a big concern given his age. But I made an appointment at the vet for him just in case.
Andy had had blood work done, nothing to be really too concerned about. He did have a slightly elevated white cell count, but nothing to be concerned with as it was insignificant. His body temperature was 103.0 not that high and indicated a low grade infection most likely, possibly attributing to arthritis, old age or any number of things. He was placed on Baytril for 14 days and Rimadyl. No improvement.
At this point, he had gone down slightly again, blood panel showed no changes to the previous numbers. The only difference was that Andy was a big more decrepit in his movements and gave off an "ouchy" look. Even his feet were starting to swell. At this point, it was thought that he may have had a tick borne infection. 21 days of Doxicyline and Pred. There was a nice improvement to Andy, but nothing dramatic. I was concerned about his weight as he steadily dropped weight.
21 + days later we wean him off Pred. Symptoms came ROARING back and he could barely stand up. At this time, we put him back on Pred and then about a week later started to alternate Pred with Imaran. No improvement at this point.
Meanwhile, his annual eye CERF exam was scheduled so we took him in. At the END of the exam, I casually mentioned to the eye vet about how this all started with a very slight discharge from his left eye. She turned the lights back out, put a stain in his eye and started to look around. Lodge deep under/behind/somewhere in his eye was a piece of what looked like wood. How it got there no one knows. But according to the eye vet, it had to be extremely painful for him. She was puzzled that he never once pawed at his eye.
After this, I never really gave the eye thing a thought again.
Meanwhile, he kept going downhill -- steadily. Nothing was working.
At this point, the vet pulled him off all
immune suppressants. The WBC (white blood cells) were steadily climbing, his
weight kept slipping. While he wasn't swollen in the joints anymore, his energy
wasn't returning and he wasn't eating well. I could barely get him to eat
anything. Various antibiotics were tried, all without success.
Little things kept popping up. He had a massive infestation of hooks. Those were no sooner solved when he had Tapes show up. His immune system was shot.
This normal, healthy 15 lbs dog was down to around 10 lbs and dying right in front of my eyes. There was an infection somewhere, but no one knew where. I suspected sinus area. He had had a snuffling, almost head cold sound. Behind his eyes had shrunken in and his eyes themselves seems larger, almost as if pressure were behind his eyes.
Finally, IV antibiotics were used in a last ditch effort to save this dog. He spent several days at the vet office. He at first seem to rally, but then rapidly declined again. This week, he was back in for more IV antibiotics. Good news, it seemed on Monday was that after all this time, a slight decrease in WBC was seen. Something different! On Wednesday, the vet had pulled another blood panel and this time the results were much different. His WBC had INCREASED, up to 41,000. Discouraging news.
The vet wanted to do a test for leukemia as we were out of options as to what was happening. This test was schedule (will know results on Wednesday).
By this time, I'm around $1,000.00 to $1,500.00 into his treatment (I haven't gotten his final bill yet). I asked his breeder (and my best friend) if she could take him this weekend as I had previously planned on a trip to go visit Anne Marie Shute and my friend Kim Bott. He was at least stable and we thought it would be okay for a few days for me to leave.
Paula picked him up on Friday and called me. She said she was very worried. No one had seen him have a bowel movement in the past 4 days, he had thrown up at the vet office and he was down to around 8 lbs. Skin over bones. Not even muscle left. He wobbled, could barely stand and had no interest in eating.
By Saturday morning, she called me to tell me to come home. Andy was dying. He had thrown up all over the night before. He was laying in his own vomit. Crying, panic and upset, of course I immediately headed home. Along the way, placing calls to the people who needed to know. Andy was dying.
I started to remember all the wonderful things about Andy. He's a very special dog. As a show dog, he had been one of my fastest finishes - 9 shows. At the age of 10, we took him to the IGCA 2003 St. Louis Nationals, where he made me cry ... winning his class and then going on to Best Opposite in VETERAN Sweeps. The old man was so proud of himself, he strutted with pride. That same day, he went lure coursing for the first time and won the first leg of his JC! He is one of the oldest IG to ever accomplish this. Some of his children and grandchildren live here and grace my life. His son, Azure, is almost a carbon copy of him in looks and personality.
Andy coursing in 2003!
I even called the vet to schedule euthanasia. My heart was breaking.
When I arrived at Paula's house, she warned me to be prepared, Andy didn't look good. Much to her surprise and mine, Andy saw me and got up. More surprising, he began to wag his tail, happy to see me. Walking him out to potty I got another surprise. He sneezed and slung this white stuff all over me. He wagged the tail, did his business, walked over to me to be picked up and sighed. Ready to go home.
One of the first things I noticed was that his body wasn't its usual furnace. He was cool to the touch. I also noticed how alert he was. I took him home and he trotted out, pooped; peed and ate an entire bowl of dog food.
The next day, for the first time in months, he went to check out the goats! He walked down to see them, stood there with his ears perked forward watching them. He's eaten several times and has slept a lot, but is much more aware than he's been in a long long time.
Dr. Anne Marie Shute tells me that she believes he's had an encapsulated infection (most likely in his sinus cavities is my guess); and for what ever reason it's broken loose and is draining now (hence the dramatic improvement). Paula tells me that she believes it's the power of prayer and asking the Lord for help. I believe it's a little bit of both - any way you look at it, a miracle that I'm eternally grateful for.
I hope this means we are on the road to recovery. The photos are pretty graphic to give everyone an idea of just how far down poor Andy went. Please understand - those that have seen him this will be a SHOCK. You may not want to look any further. But what I do hope is that his story will give someone else a little hope should you find yourself in similar situations. Sometimes a little faith, a little prayer, good friends and a good vet can make all the difference in the world.
Many thanks to Andy's breeder, Paula Carroll for her faith, prayers and taking time to nurse him when I had to be away. Thanks to Kim Bott of Infiniti IG's for her caring and emotional support. Special thanks to Connie Dominy, Debby Grogan, Debbie Pupo, Yvonne Morgan and a host of other I may have forgotten to mention by name. A big thank you to Dr. Anne Marie Shute for providing information to help me make sound medical decisions and to Andy's Vet, Dr. Borden for hanging in there with us.
Andy's surgery on 5/20/04
Andy's vet visit on 5/22/04
I forgot to mention that the vet is very sure (as
I am) that Andy's initial illness was tick borne, Canine
He has had all the classic symptoms for this disease. He presented with almost every sign except Thrombocytopenia (thank god). He started out with the classic symptoms of mild fever, lethargy, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea and joint swelling due to polyarthritis. His mild non-regenerative Anemia is another classic symptom.
Why or how this ended up behind his eyes is a mystery and if it's even something else is unknown.
This website will give anyone more information about this disease:
Thank you to all who have privately replied with their well wishes to Andy. He's been kissed so much that he now thinks he's KING of the world :O). I told him no head swelling is allowed (pun intended - and I can now laugh a little in relief about it ).
5/24/04 - Andy's battle continues
Yesterday wasn't such a good day. I wasn't told that the Iron supplements would upset his stomach. He spent most of the day throwing up anything I could get down him. He did defecate, which was good.
This morning though, he did not get up to greet me. He is very weak, pale and I can tell that he is having vision problems. He didn't see the blanket on the floor and took a hard tumble to the ground. He is not interested in eating anything. I gave him some of his pills this morning in hopes that it will encourage his appetite.
I hope to see an improvement in the appetite department now that I've removed the Iron from his diet. The rebuilding of his RBC's will have to wait until he is stronger and able to handle something that hard on his stomach.
5/25/04 - Baby Steps....
After a lot of research on the internet, I'm learning about the care of a critically ill pet. Especially in the nutrition department. As it stands, Andy is emaciated. When the body gets to a certain point, things begin to shut down. The largest concern is the gastrointestinal tract and the concern that it remain functional. I have initiated feeding him by syringe until he is able to eat on his own. The goal is to have him eating the amount he would normally eat in a day, but because he cannot handle large meals, it is spread out into small meals throughout the day.
He is also
receiving puree chicken, Hills A/D and Yogurt via syringe.
So far, I have seen an increase in energy for him. He is
able to give himself a little better "shake" when I stand him up.
The hard part is resisting the urge to stuff him full of food.
I found it interesting that I need to
feed mostly fat. This is because it's
easier for his body to process this for energy. I've been giving him the
chicken fat in addition to his pureed dog food. Although they recommend
4 meals a day at this particular website - I am going to feeding him
every hour to every other hour, small amounts
that will equal what he would eat at one meal in a
day - spread out over time.
I think a residue affect of all this is that he will be permanently blind - or at least partially blind. He cannot see very well - he has run into a few things by mistake. I think the pressure in the back of the eyes was enough to do some damage to the pupils. We will find out tomorrow when I do a follow up visit with the eye vet. I'll take blindness!!! Lord knows that if that's all this leaves him is blind, I'll be very happy. Dogs can lead very normal lives without their eyesight.
I questioned myself all day long. Wondering if I am prolonging his agony, if I should let him peacefully go or if I should continue to fight and help him survive. A part of me says let him go, and another part of me says keep going.
The decisions will be made on Thursday of whether I will let him peacefully go or continue the fight for his life. It's when he will have his regular vet check to see where his numbers are.
I will post more photos soon. Just a side note, on Saturday when I weighed Andy at the Vet office, he weighed in at 8 1/2 lbs. His normal weight is 15 lbs. Almost half his weight has been lost.
5/26/04 Still alive...
This morning as I approached his kennel I wondered if Andy were still alive. Granted, I was up earlier than normal, but I was hoping for a greeting from him. None. I picked him up and carried him outside for his morning potty. He gave a small shake and a wag of his tail, then peed. I carried him back in to conserve his energy.
I liquefied his chicken soup in the blender. I'm scared that I'm going to overfeed him too soon, but at the same time I want to make sure he is getting enough food to jump start his system. I've measured out how many syringes of food equal a 1/3 cup. Since the liquid food is a lot of water, I'm not too concerned I'll over feed him, but I make sure I don't go over 1/3 cup at one time.
Today we have our first vet visit back to the eye vet to see if he has improved. I'll also be interested to see how much eyesight he's lost. I don't want to be too optimistic but I think he's improved there. Probably because of the forced feeding.
I'm really hoping that white cell count will be down tommorrow. The big battle now is to jump start his system into accepting food and processing the food. His temperature has been remaining consistent at 103. to 103.5 I'm monitoring him hourly.
After his second feeding, I noticed Andy laying in his kennel, ears perked forward and listening to the sounds around him. It did my heart good to see him doing something other than just laying in his bed, asleep and not moving. I took him out for a quick potty break, which he appreciated. 11 a.m. can't come soon enough for me. I spent some time reading websites. Calorie intake is important. Excess carbohydrates could cause major problems, resulting in respiratory and cardiovascular failures - which could kill him.
He's back to sleeping now. We are off to the eye vet to see what they have to say...
Eye vet says that he can see out of his eyes. The retinas are reactive and he has a blink reflex. More than likely his vision is obscured by the abrasions. I can live with that. Although the abrasions are still there, she thought his ability to close his eyes was much better than last week. He was alert and looking around at the vet office. Just finished feeding him again and he's alert and looking around. I hope these hourly feedings are doing him some good. He did have a bit of a gag reflex just before going to the eye vet, but he didn't regurgitate and he held his food down.
5/27/04 - The Vet visit....
The most difficult thing, I have
to go out of town today and will be gone a week! I am leaving my hubby
in charge. Andy scared me a bit this morning by throwing up some food. I
think it maybe a reaction to a bit too much food (my over eagerness to
give him food).
The good news is that Andy GAINED almost a pound! This is a HUGE victory. His weight is up to 9.75. The vet visit went well. I will not know the numbers until tomorrow. The vet wants to send this off to a lab to see where the numbers are since we are hinging his life on these numbers. Vet felt his color looked better as well.
In my heart I feel the numbers will be down. His temperature today has remained well within normal range. He got home from the vet, walked from the car to his kennel, got in his luxury bed (pillows, blankets and so much more) and ate two more old Roy Dinners rounds.
Very proud of him. I was worried this morning because he had a lot of gagging reflex, but after a bit of regurgitation, he feels better. I'm backing off a bit on his food intake because I don't think he's ready for the amount i want to give him.
I hope that in the next few days he will be eating on his own.
June 8th 2004...
Dr. Borden, his vet has been wonderful throughout all of his illness, it was nice that he was there to help ease his passage over. I was able to hold Andy and kiss him goodbye. He went easily and quietly; he was ready even if I wasn't really ready to let him go.
I was so lucky to have him.
I will miss your sweet "whoo whoos", your wagging happy tail
and sweet smiling face. Please wait for me at the bridge, I know
I'll be happy to see you again, all healthy and looking just as
beautiful as you did the first day I saw you.
I want to say thank you to all the wonderful Italian Greyhound people who have sent me private emails and who have called me. Andy was a very special dog and to those who got to meet him, I know he touched their hearts. I had hoped his story would be a happy ending, and in a way it is. He is running free now, no longer sick, no longer tired.
If anything I hope that all of you remember how he looks above - that's my memory of him, coursing the fields of St. Louis, happy to be running all out after the "bunny".
The following photos actually make him appear BETTER than he actually is.
|Notice lack of muscle and prominent bone in thighs-||Thighs are paper thin, notice ridge of back and concaved loin. Neck is concaved in.|
|Ribs Showing||prominent hip bones.|