April Friday 13, 2018 started a round of bad luck. Dr. Maddux always told me bad luck happens in 3’s, and this yielded to be true.
On Wed. April 11th, I went to hook Moose up for breakfast and I noticed he didn’t have a collar on. I searched the yard and found the metal hardware to the collar, but no collar. I searched the boxes in the dog yard and found pieces of a collar (probably totaling half of a collar). Someone ate half of a collar, but who was it? The options were: Moose, Dru, Wayne, Ahab, or Moe. My first guess was Moose. My second guess was Wayne. I was wrong.
On Friday morning (April 13th) Red wasn’t acting normal. I had to wake him up and when I did he was confused and stumble around the yard. His behavior reminded me of Storm when she had low blood sugar (due to a tumor on her spleen or pancreas). I tried feeding him, but he just stumbled around. I have him some Ensure (left over from when Storm needed it), but that didn’t help.
Greg came in from feeding the outsiders and said Moe didn’t eat and looked glum. Moe is a healthy eater, so we knew he was the guilty party for eating Moose’s dog collar.
I called the vet and we packed up Red and Moe and brought them to the vet at 11:30am. The vet took x-rays and did blood work for both boys.
For Red, the blood work indicated kidney failure. For Moe, according to one of the doctors, the blood wok indicated severe pancreatitis. We asked if this could be related to eating a collar; the doctor thought it was a separate issue and wanted us to send the blood work out to a lab– we said yes.
The x-rays were inconclusive, so we agreed for the boys to have barium tests done and we’d pick them up at 6:30pm to see what the results were.
That evening, we tended to the dogs and headed off to the vet for our 6:30pm appointment. For Red, the barium outlined an abdominal tumor. Red was a 16-17 year old dog, so we weren’t going to operate, and without an ultrasound (our local vet doesn’t have one), we couldn’t be sure if the tumor was even operable. We had to put Red down.
I was pretty upset about this because it was unexpected. Red was fine the day before and had been going on regular evening walks. He had been picky with his food, but this was normal. In 2016 Red was diagnosed with kidney failure. We treated it with Rehmannia Eight (per our vet) and in May of 2017 his kidney levels were normal. His blood test today showed kidney failure.
For Moe, the barium showed something in his stomach. Greg and I knew what it was, but the doctors wouldn’t commit to it being a collar. Our options were for the local vet to do exploratory surgery the next day, or for us to drive 1 hour and 45 minutes to the Cavan Hills emergency vet. We opted for option #2.
Meanwhile, Greg was really sick with the flu AND we were getting a severe winter weather storm. We had already taken our snow tires off. Due to the flu, Greg had sat in the car (he didn’t want to get anyone sick) and I would go outside to converse with him. When it was time to euthanize Red, I told the docs that Greg was sick, and asked if they minded if he came in. They said “No, they didn’t mind,” and they gave me a surgical mask that he could wear to cover his nose and mouth.
After we said goodbye forever to Red, we headed out in bad weather to take Moe to the Cavan Hills vet.
We arrived at Cavan Hills during shift change (around 9:30pm) so we were pretty well ignored for 20 minutes. They took Moe from use right away, and then we waited. I was actually in the process of calling Kawartha Emergency Veterinary Clinic when the doctor finally came out to talk to us. After we cleared up some confusion with the doctor and received an estimate of the cost, we headed home– without even saying goodbye to Moe!
We arrived home at 11:30pm, and Bruno didn’t get up to greet us. His behavior was highly unusual. Bruno always is jumping up at the door greeting us. Greg touched his abdomen and he yelped. Bruno was not in good shape. He was breathing rapidly and with an open mouth. Unfortunately, the roads were way too bad for us to turn around and make the trip back to Cavan Hills. I thought Bruno was going to die overnight– I’m totally serious. Sometime after 2am Cavan Hills phoned to tell us Moe’s surgery went well, and they removed fabric from his stomach and some strands of string from his intestines.
The next morning Bruno was alive. After tending to all of the dogs, we brought him to our local vet (probably at around 10am). Note, before that– at around 7:30am– we received a call from Cavan Hills saying Moe was doing fine, but not eating. I told them we feed Red Paw, which is fish based, so they should try some fishy-type food. The vet also commented how skinny Moe was. I explained that he wasn’t skinny– he’s just a working sled dog. She said most of the husky’s they see are a little more husky (excuse the pun).
My guess was that Bruno had a hemangiosarcoma on his spleen (except I called it a hemosarcoma). We’ve had several dogs with hemangiosarcomas on their spleen, or spleen related issues, so I sort of know how they act.
Side note: Just a few months ago, I brought Bruno to the local vet saying “I think there’s something wrong with his spleen.” The vet did blood work, but DID NOT palpate Bruno’s abdomen. The blood work showed high protein levels. The vet didn’t advise us on what to do. Also, around 1 year ago, a different vet told us that Bruno’s spleen was enlarged due to a dental infection, and that he’d be fine after his dental surgery.
The vet took an x-ray of Bruno’s abdomen, and wow, even I could see the tumor. It was HUGE. We’re surprised he was even eating because the tumor took up a large portion of his abdominal cavity and pushed his intestines up to his spine.
The vet sort of advised immediate euthanasia, but I wasn’t ready to do that. Greg and I took Bruno outside to converse on what to do, and Bruno couldn’t walk– he collapsed and got up. We decided that immediate euthanasia (as opposed to bringing him home for a day or two) was the best course of action.
I was totally devastated. Bruno was my baby boy who I found in a box (with his mamma and several other puppies) on Chena Hot Springs Road in Fairbanks. We’ve had this baby for 12 years. He was my loyal boy who slept on our feet almost every night.
We went home. Soon we received a call from Cavan Hills (11:30am) that Moe wasn’t doing well. He had developed a fluid in his abdomen and an infection (Peritonitis), and would need to be opened up again. FUCK!!!! They just called three hours ago saying he was fine. WTF happened. We told them to go ahead with the surgery. The doc called several hours later and told us the surgery went fine, but Moe had around a 50/50 chance of survival.
We spoke to the doctor later that evening. Moe was recovering, but not eating. The surgery went well, but “it would be up to Moe to pull through.” On Monday or Tuesday Greg and I drove out to Cavan Hills to deliver dog food to Moe. We were able to see him and hand fed him less than a handful of kibble. I left a bowl with some kibble and told the vet tech that sometimes sled dogs don’t eat from bowls, just put the kibble on the ground. This worked for them!
I picked up Moe on Thursday, April 19th and he was alert, but tired. He was on a fentanyl patch– which I was a little concerned about because if he ate the patch he’d be a goner (?), so he wore an eCollar (we call them helmets). Moe was given a bunch of antibiotics and probiotics. Friday evening, after feeding him, I saw his helmet was off and he was chewing something. I ran over to the pen, thinking he was eating his fentanyl patch, but he had only eating the plastic tabs of his eCollar (which I’m sure were not good for his stomach and intestines).
It’s now April 24th and Moe is recovering nicely. I took the fentanyl patch off yesterday, as well as his eCollar. He’s thinking that he may want to be an inside dog, but he may want to go back outside to live with his buddies. We’ll see what happens.