Monday, May 20, 2013

Here's the story

I have been a little bit distracted lately & have told half the story (or the story to date) to just about everyone & telling it makes me so miserable I don't want to have to keep telling so here it is, once & for all:

A bit more than a month ago we noticed something not-quite-right in our chihuahua?dachshund?jack russell? mix.  She seemed "off" for a little while, but we were chalking that up to old age (she is in her early teens....we think; we have had her since 2004 & she was 2+ then).  She was developing cataracts & not seeing well certainly explained some of her problems but then she started turning down treats.  Actually she wasn't turning them down, she was accepting them & then not eating them.  She had had a dental cleaning & all that entails the first week of January but maybe she had developed a new cavity?  So to the vet we went.

In the course of the exam the vet found a pressure point along her back that certainly hurt her, so a radiograph was in order.   Following that we had some information:  inflammation between the second & third vertebrae.  More than that, what it took to get a clear pictures hurt her quite a bit.  At least she came home in more pain than she went in.  The pain got worse not better over the following days.

Let me stop here & say I do not regret the radiograph.  nor do I blame the vet for hurting her.  Among the breeds mixed into her history is dachshund & there is no ignoring back pain in dachshunds. 

We spent three weeks treating her pain & all that entailed.  Her appetite was nonexistent, so we have also been force feeding her.  This goes against my animal care philosophy, but we were working from the assumption that the lack of appetite was caused by a combination of her pain & the medications she was taking for pain.

Last week we had a follow-up & we now have a different picture.  The cataracts & the back problems are not great BUT our real problem is very likely a tumor.  The suspected location is her nasal cavity, probably somewhere behind her left eye.  The reason I say "probably" is we have elected not to have it definitively diagnosed.  The only was to do that would be at least one expensive, invasive procedure.  If we had the diagnosis we expect the treatment is, in a word, hellacious:  chemo & radiation & after that misery she would likely be blind & six months after treatment 80% of the dogs that go through it are dead anyhow. 

So we brought her home.  Her appetite is back (thank you prednisone...& the anti-emetic & anti-nausea meds she is on), but her diet is limited.  After more than a month of eating almost nothing, her digestive system is fragile & big bites & chewing are problematic because of whatever is going on behind her left eye.  & that is where we are.  It is hard to say how long this will last; as long as she wants to eat we will feed her, but sooner rather than later she will have problems swallowing even the small bits of chopped chicken breast I have been making for her & that will be that. It could be a couple weeks, it is unlikely to be more than a few months.

In the meantime, she is back to being our own little dog.  She gets tired more easily, but she is up & wagging her tail, bumping noses with the cats & doing the things that make her happy.  She has regained a little weight (she lost almost 1/3), her back is not bothering her much but all the reasons we thought she needed to go to the vet remain.  If she has what she is showing all the signs of having, when she goes downhill, it will be very fast which is hard on us, but I think lingering might be harder on her.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear this. It is heartbreaking when your friend reaches the point when invasive procedures are just not wise. I know you'll enjoy her as long as possible and then let go.

  2. It has to be one of the hardest things to help our pets when they have health issues and may be approaching the end of their lives. It seems she's happy to be back with you at home and the end of the vet's poking and prodding and that you are all doing the best you can in the situation.

  3. Your little girl is very lucky to have you as parents! Your love will guide you through it all and help you with the difficult decisions. I'm so happy that she is now back to being her little doggy self.