Monday, November 19, 2012

There Is No Joy in Mudville Except for Tika

SUMMARY: Bad heart, bad anal gland.

As I reported here, I've been waiting for this morning when we had an ultrasound and follow-up x-ray scheduled for Tika's heart and lungs.

Meanwhile, she' been licking at her anal area. Since she has a history of anal gland abscesses, I checked when she started licking maybe 3 or 4 weeks ago, saw and felt nothing. Checked again a couple of weeks ago, maybe just before the last agility weekend, I'm pretty sure. Nothing.

Set my alarm for 7 this morning so that I could drop her off at the vet's at 8:00 for the various tests. 5 a.m., bam!, she hits the floor with all four feet and assumes the, you know, "about to poop" position. I rush her out to the yard, where she does that for about half an hour, in between stopping and licking.

I took a look--bright purplish red under there. That can't be good.

In short, we never could get back to sleep, as it was bothering her too much and she kept returning to that position. Clearly in a lot of discomfort.

By the time we got to the vet, lots of bleeding, too. Gads. When it rains...

Anyway, vet *thinks* it's just an abscessed anal gland again. Reason I didn't see anything is because the swelling was all inside this time--possibly all the scar tissue from previous infections was keeping it from showing outwardly. We're *hoping* it's just swelling from the infection and not something worse. Vet had to give her local anesthesia to clean it out, then they kept her longer so that he could do it again a couple of hours later.

But on to primary news: Tika's heart is in very bad shape. If she were a human, she'd at least be looking at valve surgery and isn't far from what would require a heart transplant. How she kept going at all is beyond me. So the other heart medications that we thought maybe we'd add gradually as the need arose--? She's now on them.

They didn't bother with the x-ray to check fluid in the lungs--they sound very clear and the heart is the bigger challenge.

There is no way she's going to be doing any more agility. But, because she's an active and eager dog, I'm not going to keep her from running or chasing a ball or playing tug--but we might try to keep it to a minimum. No more long hikes in the mountains, I'm thinkin'. Although she does like those interesting off-leash explorations.

She's now taking antibiotics for the anal gland and diuretic and 2 other meds for her heart. And my checkbook is down another $1200. Gads.

The vet thinks that the heart could give out at any moment, or she could last a year, or maybe longer. But probably not a lot longer.

She's not even 12 yet! I really had hoped for a longer old age for her, as she's been so active and (generally) healthy. Well, it ain't over till the fat lady sings.

Goal is that she's happy, comfortable, not in pain.

And, right at the moment, she is VERY happy to be home and to be having dinner.

16 comments:

  1. awww i had so been hoping for a happy report

    glad Tika enjoyed dinner - and so sad, for you ad your chequebook :(

    hang in there

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    1. Thanks. I'd been hoping for something better but at least there are ways to treat it a little bit. I'm hoping that she'll tolerate the meds well.

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  2. I'm sad for you (the human) for facing the imposed agility retirement. And I commend you for respecting her desire to run, chase a ball, tug, and maybe even hike.

    As you well know from your previous experiences, you have the benefit of having the heads up of knowing what is going on, so the choices you make from here one out are yours, and yours alone.

    Can she hike? Probably.
    Will she enjoy it? Undoubtedly!
    Will she crump on a hike? Maybe.
    Can you carry her out if she does? Dunno.
    Is it worth the risk? Up to you.

    I tend to agree with your assessment - after all, you are the human. Difficult as it is, it's your job to find a balance between happiness and health.

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    1. Thanks, Holly. Yah, Tika was still having a pretty good agility career right up to the previous run that morning. I think that, unlike Jake or Boost, she probably won't miss doing agility all that much as long as I spend equal time with her doing fun things. I need to think about off-leash hikes that don't involve all that much uphill; I think that would be a good compromise. I asked that question of the club a month or so ago about how to carry out a sick or injured dog and now I need to get serious about implementing something and always having it with me. If I do, isn't that supposed to mean that I'll never need it?

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  3. Awwww. So sorry for you Ellen. Tika is such a happy soul. My first Sheltie Sophie had a similar prognosis and lived a happy life eating whatever she wanted, chasing balls, and overall was a very happy girl. The end was very quick when the end came, but up to that point, life was good.

    The biggest challenge I think facing is that balance of what she should do and the guilt of limits or not giving limits and the dog has a bad day because of too much.

    Please enjoy and live your life. She is happy just being with you. There is a short (2 mile walk that I do off leash down here. Off Burnett and Monterey. It is a good one with tons of smells with a nice wide path. The coyote trail over off of Cochrane is also good, when you are on the bike trail after the bridge, go right and it is a nice flat walk and I let the dogs off leash there as well.

    Sending good thoughts your way for Tika and for you! Vici

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    1. Vici, thanks for the suggestions on hiking. I'll have to check them out and see whether they'd work for my dogs off leash. Interesting that the vet said that the best outcome would be a very quick end--like she's doing something that she enjoys and, poof, heart has had enough. I can live with that, just hope I don't have to carry a 45-pound dog three miles. Vet also talked about dogs he's seen where the ultrasound showed that the heart was barely even functional and yet the dog had been happily going along without any outward signs. Tika can be a drama queen, but she also has a lot of energy and I think that'll keep her going.

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  4. This is brutal. She's a great dog though, and obviously strong...so she'll do it her way, with your suggestions. Our last sheltie had a similar issue..and we always knew it could be any time...it was quick too and she had just finished scarfing down dinner and was doing her happy dance. Still makes me smile and feel sad all at the same time.

    Still I'm glad I got to meet the three of you last fall. Will always remember that walk with you and Tika and Boost. Hugs.

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    1. Thanks. Tika loves her food, too. If she keeps up her appetite to the end, I'll know she's happy.

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  5. Oh poor Tika. Hugs to the both of you. Though when I go I hope it's quick and while I'm doing something I love doing. If you had to carry her out of somewhere you could always try to fashion some sort of device out of tree branches or whatever was handy and get someone to help you. I took a pet first aid class and they kept going on about using a nice, big flat board to carry a dog out of the woods or whatever, as if we all go hiking with something like that. Search and rescue can help as well.

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    1. I actually quizzed my agility club about that a couple of months ago, after yet another dog collapsed and died. There were some good suggestions. A couple of people suggested taking a backpack along and carrying the dog out that way. I'm not inclined to wear a backpack every time I go for a hike. The suggestions I liked the best had to do with always carrying 2 trekking poles and a lightweight cordura sling with slots down the side in which to insert the poles; then you'd have either a stretcher that 2 people could carry or tie one end together and have a draggable travois. Now I just need to go get another trekking pole and make myself a sling thing. Or I could just carry a large flat board.

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  6. So sorry about Tika. Not what you were expecting huh. I'm sure she will be happy just hanging with you and Boost.

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    1. Yes, certainly not what I was hoping for. She is generally a happy dog so I'm sure she'll do fine. I'm the wimp around here.

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  7. Oh, Tika -- Not what any of us were hoping for :-( At least there are some good meds in the mix now to help her be as comfy as possible for as long as possible, which is hopefully a nice long time.

    If she's allowed (heck, even if she's not ;-P ), could you give her an extra treat on my behalf?

    Thinking of you!

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    1. Thanks! So far, Tika's diet is unrestricted. If she's tolerating the meds OK, in acouple of weeks we'll recheck her blood pressure and see whether she needs to go on a low-sodium diet.

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  8. I am one of your long-distance readers who doesn't know you personally, but I am sorry the news about Tika wasn't better. I had to retire my older agility dog this year at 11 1/2 after we found a mineralized disc in his neck. It's a tough thing to do. I hope Tika will have a long and enjoyable retirement and go quickly and painlessly when the time comes.

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    1. Thanks, Amanda. I'm always surprised when people I don't know find my blathering to be interesting. I know that I'm not alone in having to retire my dog--happens all the time and often at a much younger age. At our last 2 or 3 trials, Tika was about the 4th or 5th oldest dog there, so actually she's had a good run. I keep reminding myself of that. I hope your dog is doing well even with that problem disk.

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