First Helen, now Callie.
Well, we had hoped to have more time with Callie than this. Just about 18 months after she developed a brain tumor and then had successful radiation treatment for it, we had to say goodbye to our plump little Dachshund yesterday.
A couple of months ago Callie started having seizures again, but we had been able to keep them at bay with phenobarbitol and prednisone. She had been doing so well on this protocol that this past weekend our biggest concern for her was taking an inventory of our phenobarbitol supply to make sure we could order more in time if we needed it.
But on Tuesday morning when we got up, we found Callie was breathing hard; not gasping, but it took a lot of effort, and her sides were going in and out as she breathed. So I drove her to our vet clinic in Whitefield that morning, and X-rays told us what was going on: Callie was in congestive heart failure, and her chest had filled with fluid. Our vet, Dr. Chris Plumley, also saw on the X-rays a very large mass in her abdomen that looked like the size of a golf ball -- a new tumor.
Before Callie had her initial CT scan and then the MRI of her brain, our internal medicine specialist in Missoula, Dr. Dave Bostwick, had done a complete ultrasound scan of her abdomen and other organs, and Callie otherwise had a clean bill of health. (I always loved the photo of her in that blog post -- that was quintessential Callie!) So all of this has developed in the past year.
When Chris showed me Callie's X-rays, I was floored to see just how enlarged her heart had become ... and I could see all the fluid built up in her chest. Chris pointed out how the volume had even pushed her trachea out of place. Chris said that animals can be going along seemingly just fine with congestive heart failure until they reach a tipping point, and then all of a sudden you reach a crisis point. I looked over at Callie in the cage behind us, head bobbing up and down and sides going in and out with every breath, and realized what this meant.
Chris gave her an injection of Lasix to try and pull some of the fluid out so she could be more comfortable overnight, but we didn't have much time. I knew we wanted at least one more day with her, so I bundled her up and brought her home. I called Alayne on the way with the news so she could be prepared.
On Tuesday night after dinner, we sat in the living room by the woodstove while Alayne held Callie on her lap and caressed her. Callie had always adored Alayne more than anything or anybody in the world, and the two of them had a very special bond. Nothing could make Callie happier than to be held by Alayne. The next most special thing for her was eating, and third was grooming other dogs.
But Tuesday evening, Callie hadn't wanted to eat ... and that was the first time we'd ever seen her refuse a meal. Her breathing continued to be labored.
On Wednesday morning, before we headed outside to start the daily chores, we put Callie on her bed in front of the wood stove in the dog room. That's when I took the photo above. This would be her last morning. Early in the afternoon, Alayne drove Callie back to the vet clinic and was holding her when our vet, Dr. Nancy Lefavour, helped her slip away peacefully. Callie came to us when she was 9 years of age, and we'd had her just one month shy of 5 years.
I know this is a sad post, and not the way we want to end the week ... yours or ours. But this video I took of Callie back in Montana is how we will always remember her -- pretending not to hear us when it was time to go out for the last potty trip of the night. After 225,000 views on YouTube, Callie has made plenty of people smile and laugh over this:
Still 2nd place!
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It was thanks to all of your amazing votes that we won the $20,000 Grand Prize in the final Shelter Challenge of 2009, and we came in fourth nationwide in the first Shelter Challenge earlier this year, winning $3,000. So this is serious money and can really make a difference for our disabled animals! Please help us win this round of the contest by voting every day, and by encouraging your family, friends and colleagues to vote every day, too. Thank you!