Sunday, March 23, 2008

Canine Crisis

We had a rough week. Indy, one of our two Shih Tzu's, had a health crisis that came out of the blue. She was fine Tuesday, but then overnight began acting a bit unusually. On Wednesday she was dragging a little bit and wouldn't eat. On Thursday, she had no energy, wouldn't eat, couldn't walk far without tiring, and late in the afternoon started shivering. I made an appointment with the vet for Friday.
Overnight I got one of the scariest moments of my life. In the middle of the night, she wanted to go out ... that's normal, but she went out and around the corner of the house and disappeared. And didn't come back. I got dressed and went out to find her. She was lying at the edge of the woods, looking out into forest, and didn't want to move. If you know animals, you know that sign: it's what they do when they know they're about to die. It was like a cold ice pick to my stomach. I picked her up, carried her back into the house, and put her on the bed. She went back to sleep, but I didn't - I kept checking her every few minutes just to make sure my little sweetheart was still breathing.
So Friday we got her into the vet. She was down to 12.5 pounds, from her previous 13.7 - a serious weight loss. They said she was severely dehydrated, so they hooked her up to an IV, ran some blood tests, and kept her overnight. The diagnosis: she has Addison's disease, which is a failure of the adrenal gland to produce all the right things it's supposed to produce. People get it, too: JFK, for one, so she's in illustrious company. Addison's is not curable, but it is treatable, so for the rest of her life she'll have to have a shot once a month and take a pill every day to restore the chemical balance that her adrenal gland isn't doing anymore.
On Saturday when we went to pick her up, she was much better - still a bit tired, but more active and interested in the world. Today was even better. Her appetite is still not up to speed, and her normally bouncy personality is a bit subdued. It's like she knows she had a close call and is still coming to grips with it. But she's playing with her ball, and this morning she found a bone on our walk and snuck it home when I wasn't looking. The picture above was taken on Saturday afternoon and you can see the purple Ace bandage on her front leg where the IV was.
I've often said that if anything ever happened to one of our dogs, they were gonna have to put me down as well. It's scary to come so close to losing one of your children, you know?

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