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The Bad, The Worse, and the Horrible

The Bad

While I was out of town a couple of weeks ago, Barbara found a foster home for Guy (a/k/a Sir Guy), one of two Shelties (Sammy’s the other) who were relinquished to us together a couple of months ago by their owner. Late last week, Guy’s foster mom, Lorie, dropped him off here at “Camp Sheltie” because she was going away for a long weekend and was concerned about the heat if he went with her in her car. Yesterday morning, while we had the dogs out to go potty, Barbara noticed that Guy was trying to urinate, but apparently without success; she also noticed later that he would “drip” urine inside apparently unaware that he was doing so.

Naturally, she took him straight over to the vet’s, where they diagnosed bladder stones — including a stone within his urethra! Poor Guy! Barbara left Guy with the vet, who planned to “flush” the stone backwards into his bladder (to provide immediate relief from discomfort and to allow him to urinate. A change in Guy’s diet, along with a course of antibiotics, was prescribed with the intent of changing his bladder chemistry so the stones will dissolve and not recur. Lorie picked Guy up yesterday evening and has already reported that the symptom has not recurred. Fingers crossed that the dietary changes and antibiotics do the job and that the problem is gone for good! Poor Guy!

The Worse

A few months ago, a very tall, but very thin, Sheltie named Snickers came into our program. When Snickers arrived, he was terribly wobbly in the rear and had difficulty standing from a down, difficulty even in staying in a standing position. But a lot of TLC and vet care brought him around so he was comfortable, could get up and down, and could even play catch a bit. He became extremely affectionate and had good quality of life. Of course, his age (he’s approximately older than dirt) and obvious overall poor health before he came to us made us vividly aware that he wouldn’t be around for years and years.

Well, a month or so ago, Snickers lost his appetite…big time. And it’s gotten dramatically worse in the last couple of weeks. Barbara and I have been buying everything we can imagine that might interest him, ranging from ham, beef, chicken, and turkey, to Pupperoni, Twinkies, pizza, and even brownies. Some days, he’s managed to eat 300 or 400 calories worth of food, while on other days it’s more like 100 or 150. We calculate that he needs about 800 calories a day strictly for maintenance, so it’s not surprising that he’s mostly skin and bones by now. He wouldn’t eat anything at all yesterday, no matter what we tried. His attitude is still surprisingly good, and he’s still affectionate and he seeks cuddles and hugs.

But it’s clear that today’s the day we have to let him go to the Bridge. By tomorrow, or the next day, he’s really going to start to suffer, and we can’t allow that to happen. It’s just heartbreaking to have to make this decision, even though his spirits are still good and he still perks up at the sight of a tennis ball or a tug toy. But it’s obviously time. We’ll leave in an hour or two to make that last trip to the vet’s office…

The Horrible

Late last week, Cinnamon started to cough, lightly and quietly, but distinctly. Cinnamon came to us a few months ago very overweight and without many social skills. But she’s lost a lot of weight, learned that she’s loved and wanted, and that other dogs aren’t going to do Bad Things to her. We’d begun to look for an appropriate adopter for her, thinking that she could really flourish in a one-dog (her, of course) household and really be happy.

And then she started to cough. Well, she’d had a dental late the previous week, so we presumed that she’d somehow been exposed to kennel cough at the vet’s. (It happens, no matter how many precautions everybody takes. To complicate matters, although she’d been given a nasal vaccine for kennel cough, there are so many variants that it’s impossible to protect against them all.) We monitored her for a couple of days, but completely missed the fact that she had developed a fever and, much worse, failed to listen to her lungs and discover the rattling while she was breathing.

We took her to the vet’s on Saturday, two days ago, where they diagnosed not only kennel cough, but pneumonia! She was put on oxygen immediately and kept in the E.R. cages at the vet clinic, monitored 24 hours a day. Barbara went to see her yesterday (while she was taking Guy to be diagnosed) and she was on her feet and seemed to be improving slightly. The vets said they wanted to keep her until at least Tuesday (tomorrow), but that they thought she would come home this week.

Late yesterday afternoon, we got a phone call from Cottonwood telling us that Cinnamon had just died.

They told us that one of the vet techs looked over at her and she was in a position called “agonal breathing” (meaning that her muzzle was elevated in a way that kept her throat as straight as possible, making it easier for her to breath, but seemed to not be moving. The tech ran over and discovered that Cinnamon was not breathing. She had no pulse, so they did CPR and got her heart going and her breathing going, but her heart soon stopped again, and they declared her dead. Poor Cinnamon died without us, her family, holding her and telling her how much we loved her.

So, in a few more minutes, we’ll load Snickers into the car and drive over to the vet’s. We’ll lay him on the floor, on a warm blanket, and lie down next to him. We’ll cuddle him and whisper sweet nothings in his ear while they insert a catheter into a foreleg vein. And then they’ll administer the last medication he’ll ever get while we hug him and cry.

And then we’ll take Cinnamon’s body and Snickers’ body over to Family Animal Services where we’ll have them cremated, as we do all of the dogs and cats who have died while they share our lives.

After that, we’ll come back home and continue caring for the nearly 20 other Shelties and two cats who depend on us. And the cycle continues.

On this day..

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1 comment to The Bad, The Worse, and the Horrible

  • Aw Jim and Barb, this is so sad.  I’m so sorry, there really are no words.  But you did your best.  And that’s all anyone can do.  You can miss them and wish things were different…but in the end you loved them and they knew that.  Hugs.

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