Unfortunately this isn't going to be my happy memory, favorite pictures post...but it is coming, I can't wait to get to that part. For now I've ignored all the questions and sympathies and I just wanted to put out there this one time what happened. It was one of the worst 24hours of my life and I hate that I remember it so detailed.
Monday morning I headed out with Baxter & Abby for a 40min run. My HR seemed to be running high and we were all just kinda sloshing thru. It wasn't too hot out so I actually had more than enough water for all of us and made a couple of extra stops to give the dogs extra drinks. Truth be told not one of us were exactly pushing the pace, more like sloshing thru the minutes.
I went about my normal routine checking email having my protein shake and letting the dogs settle down about an hour before I fed them. I could hear one of them making a funny noise behind me and turned to see what it was. Abby was curled up on the dog bed just staring at me and Baxter was in front of her. Thinking her tummy might be a little upset (this is common) I got a pepcid and forced it down her. Baxter was whining for his dinner so I scooped up their dishes, testing to see if Abby was going to eat or not. She wanted nothing to do with it. Her breathing seemed worse and she was drooling. As I walked thru the house I saw puddles of drool all over the tile. I sat down with her for a bit and tried to calm her down, but could feel her pulse and heartbeat going like mad.
Let me digress. Since the day we got her she's never been healthy. I hate to admit it, but I'm pretty sure we got her from a bad, over-breading place. Abby has had problem after problem starting with Valley fever when she was 6 months old. She's been on anti-fungal medications basically her whole life. She has also had urinary tract issues and had to be put on another harsh medicine. While this poor puppy has had so many health issues she's taken it all and made the best with it. When she is feeling good she's the happiest puppy in the whole world. She bounces around room to room getting excited about the smallest things (like a special treat on her dinner). She stalks you after her dinner to give her treats. She stares at her toy basket for help because she's scared to put her face in it. I call her "puppy" because well, she never quite grew into a DOG. She has always hovered around 65-69 lbs, but she was always skinny and awkward like she just never filled out. I don't know if it was where she came from, the valley fever or now after all that happened to her it could have always been her heart.
I sensed something was significantly wrong. I know I'm usually overcautious, but this was different. Abby throws up on a regular basis, she doesn't have the best appetite and she has crazy energy for short spurts then naps a lot. This was something I had never seen before. I called the vet and they told me to bring her right in. I grabbed her collar and got her to the car (not an easy task leaving Baxter behind as he cried and barked at me making him stay).
I was only at the vet for maybe 10minutes when they came in and told me her EKG was all over the place and there was a cardiologist at a pet hospital waiting for me. They handed me a CD and sent me on my way, not even letting me pay the bill yet.
I had to pick Abby up to get her into my front seat. I had the AC on full blast trying to cool her down, but she just kept dropping her head. When I walked in the door at the pet hospital they took her from me. I waited in the lobby for Shane and as soon as the Doc came to get me he had pulled up. They brought us in a room and had her on a bed hooked up to a machine that was looking at her heart. Her eyes were huge and I just tried to calm her down. Her HR was between 280-300bpm and not slowing.
The doc was talking all sorts of medical mumbo jumbo, showing us how extremely bad her heart condition was. It wasn't even just the HR it was the anatomy of the heart. I didn't really see it, even after he showed us a normal dog's heart, but Shane said he did. What he was showing us and saying was something like the wall of her heart was like 2inches thick. This wasn't something that just happened, she could have been born with it, she could have some sort of lymphoma or it could have just slowly progressed. Whatever it was, it wasn't good.
I'm usually a glass half full kinda person. Especially when it's something I really really want or feel strongly about. This was different. You could see it in the Doc's eyes, in Abby's eyes. The plan was to keep her overnight, hooked up to the machines and try to get some drugs into her to get the HR under control and take the stress off her heart. I hated to leave her there, but I knew there was nothing I could do.
We called and checked on her a few hours later with little change and then I got a final update for the night around 7pm. They had gotten her HR down with drugs and she was resting. They were going to try to feed her and would call me in the am with an update. For the first time all day I was feeling a little positive. My gut feeling now was that I knew she wasn't going to be healthy or return back to the active running partner puppy, but we could put her on some more medication and get her back to our family.
It was a long night, no sleep, tossing and turning. My cell phone rang at 7:00am and it was the Doc. His tone said it all. They had controlled her HR for a few hours with medicine, but when it went low it went too low down into the 30s. She threw up a few times over the night and some of the tests showed there was some other damage or problem with her liver and spleen. He started talking pacemakers and waiting to see if it's lymphoma...but for every possible diagnosis he had, he also somewhat counteracted the treatment because of her underlying poor health. He wanted us to come in at noon to see her and talk.
I pretty much heard nothing else. In my heart I knew we needed a small miracle to get my baby girl back to health. I was frozen. I paced around my house all morning long, and I couldn't sit still. Baxter was freaking out, jumping on me as I cried. I called Shane & told him I could not wait until noon, I had to go see her now. We showed up 2 hours early to the hospital.... The Doctor was in surgery, but the nurses were amazing. They carried Abby into a room set up with blankets and a dog bed. I can't explain how awful she looked. Her eyes said it all. She was so tired, and weak. She wagged her tail when she saw us, but then basically shut down. While she has never been the most snuggly dog in the world, she was so far removed. All she wanted to do was drink the water dish they gave her. She immediately threw up all over, it was all stomach acid and water.
I just wanted to hold her, tell her everything would be ok, but she wouldn't sit down. After the nurse brought in some fresh blankets we finally got her to lie down, her head on her baby we brought her.... She looked slightly peaceful.
The Doc came in and without saying it, he was basically saying she was just too sick and weak. This disease she had in her heart was worse than anything he had seen. All I could think of is what a STRONG amazing puppy she is, fighting with so many things against her her entire life. In our hearts we knew we couldn't let her keep suffering, but I just didn't know what to do. She was there and alive, but with not much more to give. I wanted her to see her bubba. I thought about bringing her home where she could be with him, but I couldn't decide if that was more for me, and would it make it better or worse.
There were nurses coming in every 10mins to check her hr and pulse. After a while, Shane finally said they didn't need to anymore and within 20mins we were putting Abby in peace. She fell asleep looking like a princess with her head resting on her baby. As soon as she was gone I had to rush out. It wasn't her anymore and I was sick, I couldn't breath. As I was leaving the Doc said we did the right thing, never doubt it. He said it over and over. He also asked if it would be ok to examine her heart. He really felt like he could learn more for it, and potentially help another dog. Of course....
I could go on and on about the sadness in this house, but I know in my heart she is happy and finally in no pain. No valley fever, no constant tiredness. I've thought a lot about any signs or symptoms and how could she have been like this for so long and yet still been able to do so much. While I can think of a dozen changes in the past 2 weeks - She's lost a few lbs. Her energy level has been lower, and she's had more little "spells" I always related it to valley fever. I think all of this just tells me what a trooper my girl had always been. How tough she was to fight against so many things, and she did it smiling and happy as could be. She is the epitome of "IronDog," thus wearing her leash proudly.
You can bet one thing for sure, that girl will be with Shane and I the entire 140.6miles next June in CDA.
Right now, I'm doing the best I can to keep her bff, her Bubba as happy and healthy as can be. The 3 of us will be taking Abby to Bubba's beach next weekend to give her one last "BF" (beach fever as we call it) in Mexico.
I'm so thankful to every one's kind thoughts and sympathies and will be sharing our goodbye in a post next week, all good memories, pictures and most likely a toast of margarita as we spread her around and let her go free.