My heart is breaking… (doggie sadness)

Part 1, Tuesday:

Tally attacks!

Tally attacks!

Our little doggie, Tally, whom we have only had for not quite 2½ years, is sick.

She first seemed to have a little cold in late January, then recovered, then two weeks after that, in mid-February, seemed to come back down with it again, or something…  She had a decrease in appetite and spunk.  We thought, “Oh, she’s just tired of this food,” so we changed it.  We thought, “Oh, we just need to spend more time with her” which, golly, we’re home all day, she gets a LOT of time spent with her.  Wesley in particular LIVES with her — she sleeps with him, she lays all over him when he’s on the floor, etc.  But, we made a point to spend more particular time with just her, give her extra love…  We thought, “Well, it’s been a while since we de-wormed her” so we gave her both kinds of de-worming medication.

But, nothing seemed to have any affect.

In the last week or so, her she’s been having trouble moving, her energy has severely dropped, she’s not eating much, and this morning, as I was observing her, I thought, “I think she’s not seeing very well.”

I looked up symptoms online, and from what I can tell, it seems to be distemper.  There’s nothing to cure a dog from distemper.  Unless a dog can beat it on its own, which dogs can, in mild cases, distemper becomes fatal.

I e-mailed… well, Cheryl, the daughter of Tally’s former owner.  I have a good relationship with Cheryl;  she’s the one who helped us find our old dog, Hayley, and who helped us find Tally.  She kindly returned my e-mail with a phone call.  She gave me the name and number of the breeder, in Texas.  We knew that Tally had had some kind of illness as a little puppy, but from talking with Cheryl, it appears that maybe it was worse that we had thought.  We had never given it much thought, because all the time we’ve owned Tally, she’s been the picture of health.  Now, I’m wondering if maybe she had a mild case of distemper as a puppy.

From what I’ve read, dogs can come down with a mild case, recover, then later on, severe symptoms can recur.  I’m wondering if maybe with her little cold in January, her immune system became depressed, which allowed the distemper virus to flare back up.  I don’t know for certain.

I’m eager to hear back from the breeder, for whom I left a message.

We’ll be taking Tally to the vet tomorrow.  I’m not so eager about that.  Unless I’m misunderstanding things, the only way to really diagnose distemper is to do 20 billion blood tests to rule out other diseases.  And then, if it is distemper, and if symptoms are serious, euthanasia is recommended.  😦

Martin and I need a lot lot lot of wisdom on how to handle this with the kids.  If we do need to put Tally to sleep, that will be two dogs dying within three years.  That’s just hard.  Really hard.

Part 2, Wednesday:

Today, I am feeling a lot better about Tally’s prognosis.  We actually decided to take Tally to the vet yesterday;  we didn’t want to wait until today.  That meant missing a baseball practice, but, oh, well.  Five kids (including a 5mo baby, past her mealtime) and a sick dog in the vet’s office by myself.  Yee haw.  Martin did arrive after we’d been there for about 30 minutes, and that’s always a … I don’t know what to call it.  He brings peace with him, always.  It’s a blessing.

Anyways, Tally is definitely seriously ill.  But, she may not have distemper.  The vet said, if he had to guess, that she has Valley Fever, which is common here in the desert Southwest.  Valley Fever is treatable.  It’s a long process, often 6-12 months or more (some lifetime) treatment with antifungal medication.  But, if it is Valley Fever, at least it’s not certain death, like distemper.

They did a blood draw, and will test her for “desert diseases” panel, including Valley Fever, tick fever, and I-don’t-know-what-else.  The vet was also able to give us some immediate help with Tally, in that he identified that she seemed to be suffering the most pain in her neck.  It was so bad, that he said that she may not be eating simply because it hurt her so badly to lower her head that her avoidance of further pain outweighed her need to eat.  He suggested that if we raise her bowl, she may eat better.  OH MY GOODNESS!  It worked!!  Martin and Ethan actually fed Tally by hand last night, letting her sit up or stand up, and she ate her first full meal in nearly a week.  Wow.

Also, the vet prescribed an anti-inflammatory for Tally.  Honestly, we have never had any of our pets on any meds other than vaccines and de-wormers, and having pets on prescription meds seems rather… yuppie Western of us, but it definitely seems to be helping, even less than 24 hours later, and seeing our pup doing somewhat better is a relief.

We will get some of the test results by Thursday, but probably won’t know until Monday whether or not she has Valley Fever.

Last night, after kinship, I sat up for about an hour and a half, reading up on Valley Fever and its medications.  There are currently three medicines in use to treat canine Valley Fever, but the most effective one with the fewest side effects was called “expensive.”  That made my heart drop, since we’ll need to medicate her for so long.  I was envisioning $100 a month or something like that.  However, I found an online source that has a month’s worth of medicine for about $10.  That’s doable, definitely.  I’ll ask our vet to fax the rx to the online supplier.

Anyways…  we don’t have a vet, currently.  Or, we didn’t.  Whenever we need one (which is infrequent), we have brought our dogs to PetsMart and its clinic.  However, I would rather develop a relationship with a more… mom ‘n’ pop kind of veterinary clinic, if you know what I mean.  I recalled seeing a vet’s name as a sponsor on the back of one of the opposing teams during my sons’ Little League game on Monday, so I looked ’em up, and they’re nearby.  So, we went there.  I liked the doc a lot.  That’s a win-win for everyone.  Our doggie now has a reliable vet, and the doctor’s sponsorship has won him a new client.  Good for Tally, good for us, good for the doctor, and good for Little League, too!

So…  Tally’s not out of the woods yet.  But, about 24 hours ago, it looked like she was at death’s door, and though she is still seriously ill, we’ve been given some hope.

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on March 25, 2009, in Dogs, Sad Things. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Yea! I hope she has a fast recovery!! We absolutely love dogs! We have one right now but at one time we had three. One by one they got old and/or sick and we had to put them down. That is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s awful! We have a puppy now (well he’s actually almost 3 but he’s still our puppy!) and we will hopefully have him for many years to come! 🙂

  2. I so hope that she gets better. I know how heartbreaking it is to watch your dog get ill and how helpless you feel. I’ll say a little prayer for her. xxx

  3. our prayers are with Tally and your family. When we let our dog go last year it was hard on everyone. We found the kids handled it seeing how ill/lethargic she had become and knowing she was going to Heaven. I highly recommend the childrens book, “All Creatures Go To Heaven”. (I think that’s the correct title… I’ll research and email you). Hopefully Tally pulls through, but the book is great to reassure our kids of what comes after.

    Please let us know how she is doing!!!

  4. May God heal your doggie!!!!!

  5. I had to put Brown Bears puppy to sleep about 6 years ago. He had distemper. It was so heart breaking both for us and the puppy. He was so miserable.

    I hope it isn’t distemper. I know it would be hard on the kids.

  6. what kind of dog is Tally, anyway? Best wishes….we have a Cockapoo that everyone loves…..

    • She’s a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. She was a runt, so she’s a little small for a Staffie. They’re uncommon in the US, but popular in England and Australia.

  7. So what happened? She is really cute!!!

  8. Hope your doggie recovers quickly – really trusting God for a miracle for you.

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