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Healing Molly
Bail Date: July 23, 2008
Foster Mom: Debi

July 24, 2008
The little one, bailed yesterday, is breaking my heart.  As long as her nails are, I'm wondering if she didn't live in a wire bottomed cage...aka puppy mill.  She is terrified to move more than a few inches from the corner of the patio.  When I pick her up and move her, same thing.  She pees right where she lays, (like she is used to doing so, hence my wire cage thoughts), or on me when I move her.  It makes me so ashamed to be part of the human race.  I hate people right now!

Thank God we got her at this age rather than in a few months.  She will come around, but it will take time.

We will name her "Hope".
It's anyone's guess as to where the scarring on her face comes from.  Could be from fighting for survival, or some injury she sustained while running wild.  She does tend to hide her head.  Maybe she was being attacked and hid against something sharp, or from an effort to escape her "home", or from poking her nose through a cage?

Skin scrapings were done, which came back negative.  Hope is literally covered in hundreds of dead ticks that died after the shelter sprayed her with Frontline.  I will be working on gently brushing them out of her.  She is liable to lose a whole lot more hair from the infestation before it gets better.  Her body condition is not as bad as I thought, though.  This is a good thing!
Hope's Diary
Kathy asked to foster her, but Hope is not anywhere close to being ready.  She is really quite feral.  Once she starts to trust, I have younger dogs to bring her around, but right now she is afraid of ANY dog getting near her, even my little papillons.  It's a real heartbreaker, but her age is completely in her favor.  I expect she will not be ready to go anywhere for at least a month.

July 25, 2008
Improvements today.  She was actually sitting up when I came out, not plastered against the ground!  Her eyes are not as terrified, and they soften just a bit more after I stroke her.

She is eating regular food, hot dogs, and we will see if she likes cottage cheese.  Hasn't touched the liver Freshie™.  Still urinating in place out of fear.  She had a BM that looks normal, about 4 feet from her corner, so I know she has ventured out a bit.  The patio is about 30'x 30'.

Every tiny step is going to be a triumph until they start to snowball.

July 27, 2008
I was washing dogs yesterday, with Hope looking on.  I yawned a few times and Hope cocked her head while watching me.  So very cute.  The dog washing was taking place just 8 feet or so from where she sat.  With her poor battered face and spooked eyes, Hope's head was cocked far to the left, and her ear carriage relaxed.  It was so precious.

MAJOR breakthrough with Hope last night!  I sat in the patio, with her in my lap, for over twenty minutes.  I finally got a BIG sigh from her and she relaxed her legs.  I relaxed mine, as well, as though falling asleep with her cradled in my arms.  All the while I was stroking her, and talking quietly to her, saying her name.  The Papillons were out for their nightly business.  I told her I was putting her down and when I did, she only scurried a few feet away and then sat down to look at me.  I talked to her and she stood up and WAGGED HER TAIL!!!!!  Then she came within fingertips' reach for some stokes, several times.

She sniffed at the Paps and wagged at them too!  It was as though she was thinking of playing...but it was just a thought.  After several minutes, she ran back to her corner, where I had placed a new comforter for her.  When I went in with the Paps, she came oh so darned close to coming in.  I gave her several minutes to think it through, but she would only come in as far as her front feet.  I have carried her in during the heat of the day, but I suppose it was just a little too much, too soon.  She came close several times, but in the end, retreated to her corner of the patio.

I have been taking this really slow.  Part of this is due to time constraints with readying the fosters for the big adoption event today, but I also don't want to overwhelm her.  I want to give her just enough that she WANTS it and will come out of her corner to me.  I haven't gotten that yet, but after last night, I am hopeful it will not be much longer.

August 2, 2008
What a wonderful week of progress with little Hope!  Molly, our female recovering from FHO surgery, has been a great asset in making Hope feel more secure.  The green eyed monster doesn't hurt either.  

“Hope's corner” is still her safe spot, but she ventures out all the time now.  No more peeing there.  She has been found on the rock wall of the pond (waist high), looking into one of the dog yards.  She seems to be getting more comfortable with the dogs she knows, and I think she would love to go out and play.  A new dog in the patio will send her to her safe spot with illicit growling, though.  I need her full confidence in me before we allow her out with other fosters, not wanting to risk any set backs just yet.

She runs to “safe” as soon as she hears me come out, then becomes very excited and trots over, trying to intiate play.  She bats her front feet at me and dances around.  I think she is going to be a live wire on the activity scale.  Her face is so much more relaxed.  The blue and green eyes tend to have a spooky look anyway, but I can see she is not terrified anymore.  She dances in for attention, especially when Molly is getting some...ah, the green eyed monster.

Hope will sometimes come when called, to run in for a quick touch and then back to “safe”, or just out of fingertip reach.  She still has to be carried inside during the heat of the day.  She has ventured across her threshold, only to retreat in a hurry.  There is so much confidence building needed with this little soul.  If a treat is tasty enough, she will take it from my hand.  She is craving affection just as much, or more than, a treat, so my “take it easy” approach is working.  I look forward to the day she will jump into my lap because she wants to.  Right now being held still means being “captive” to her, but I do some hug therapy and she is relaxing more quickly each time.

I have been so very pleased with her progress and hope that her progress will continue to snowball.  Tune in next week to see how she is doing.

August 12, 2008
I took a look at Hope's medical records from the shelter this week.  What horrors they reveal!  On intake, these are the Dr. notes:
  • Approx. age 4 mos. (amended later to 6-7 months)
  • Alopecia on pinnae, neck, tail, around eyes, dorsal muzzle.
  • Extremely severe tick infestation
  • All nails long, toes splayed- dog has been in tight quarters
  • Bathed puppy in pyrethrin
  • Skin scrape- 6 times-negative
  • Severely anemic. Body condition 2 out of 9
  • Sprayed w/Frontline
  • Wormed w/ Nemex
Due to her poor body condition, anemia, splayed toes, long toenails, and tick infestation, I am firmly convinced this little girl came from a puppy mill.  Her toes on the front are starting to return to normal.  The rear toes are still splayed.  I hope, in time, that with good nutrition, exercise, and growth, these will also return to normal.

Her coat is starting to get a shine, not the dull, lifeless, dry coat she arrived in.  She is still covered in tiny scabs, evidence of each tick that was sucking her of vital blood.  She actually has a tiny bit of soft tissue over her ribs, back, and pelvic bones now, though she has a way to go.  How much this will stunt her growth is anyone's guess.  If she is really 6-7 months old, she is very small.  I think it will take her body time, maybe another 3-4 months, to recover and not reveal the horrors she has lived.
As you can see from this photo taken yesterday, the hair is starting to grow in on parts of her muzzle, though the hair loss around the eyes has gotten worse.  On the brighter side, you can see that she is much more relaxed and, dare I say, almost happy?  She is still dancing just at finger tip's distance, but now I think it is more of a game for her.  She probably has no clue how to play with humans or other dogs.  Her new "safe" spot is on the rock wall of the pond where she watches the other fosters.  At first she was reluctant to be touched up there, but now she will move towards my hand for rubs.  She has her "sweet spots" and as time passes I hope to find others.
Hug therapy is still a form of capture but she relaxes so much quicker now, even laying her head on my arm and closing her eyes, completely relaxed.  It's hard to believe that tomorrow will be just 3 weeks with her here.  She has come a long way from that frightened, rigid puppy that was wrapped in a comforter and placed on my seat.  Then, my touch would send her making herself flatter, trying to bury her head.  Now my touch makes her tail wag.  Life is very, very good!
September 1, 2008
Hope's progress is slowing.  She comes into the house now as long as I'm not in the doorway, and likes to hang out under my PC desk.  She is exhibiting more play with the dogs she knows.  It's pretty obvious she doesn't understand how dogs are supposed to play yet.  The alopecia, which I thought was getting better, has regressed, but her body condition has continued to improve, and I think I can see she is growing.  I put a collar on her 2 weeks ago and she was fine with that, but when we tried the leash this weekend she fought it, and I saw the complete terror come back into her eyes.  Her trust in me was obviously shaken for part of the day.  I'll need to save leash for a time we can do several sessions in a day.  She is still wagging and seems genuinely happy to see me, so that has not changed.
November 8, 2008
I finally broke down and took Hope in for her spay.  She was absolutely petrified and went fetal on me.  My God, that tore me up.  She just looked at me like I was a traitor.  Let's pray this doesn't crumble the confidence I have been trying to build in her.  At 14 months old she weighs just 20 pounds.  The clinic staff have never met her and were shocked at her demeanor, as well as the alopecia around her eyes, muzzle, and tail tip.  I had to explain she was a puppy mill dog.  I know I won't see it tonight, but I sure hope to see her wanting to play tomorrow.  That adorable way she cocks her head, bats her front feet, and pounces.  She is slowly getting comfy coming into the front yard but not sure yet that she can play with the other dogs.  Each miniscule step is such a triumph for her.  I long for the day I see her running with the front crew, happy & confident.
November 9, 2008
Hope has taken a big step backwards.  She stayed in her "safe spot" in the dog room all day and would not come out.  This was my fear but I had to get her spayed before she had a heat cycle.  I let her have yesterday to chill out and recover.  Today if I must, I will force her a bit.
November 13, 2008
Hope is not doing well and is in the hospital on supportive IV care & meds.

Her post-spay went fairly typically, with a little vomiting of water on Saturday. More vomiting Sunday, but I have seen some dogs have a rough time getting over the anesthesia and intibation.  Late Monday evening, when I got home from work, I knew things were not at all typical.  Hope was vomiting food as if there was an obstruction.  She was very hungry but couldn't get anything to go down, even water.  She would take a few pieces of kibble and then make a horrid sound as they came back up a few seconds later.

Tuesday I took Hope to the vet as the lymph nodes in her neck were swollen and rock hard.  A Parvo test proved negative.  She was given injections of antibiotic and anti-nausea meds.  She was picked up that evening, but the staff forgot to send her with oral meds, so I got them on my way back from work last night.  When I got home I was stunned to see how Hope had deteriorated.  The swelling had gotten so bad it was up the sides of her neck in a band about 5-6" wide.  I gave her the meds but I doubt they went down and think they probably just sat at the back of her tongue.  I have her some Natural Balance canned food thinned with water water, of which she ate maybe 1/2 cup.

When I gave her meds this morning, I was shocked at the increased swelling in just 6 hours.  It has traveled to her lip and up under one eye.  I could not even poke the pills down as it seems her throat is now totally swollen shut.  She had also vomited the little she had eaten last night.  This was an emergency.  I called off work and ran her to the clinic.

Hope is down to 19# from 20# on Friday.  The CBC panel shows elevated white blood count (no surprise!), and the anemia which she was has had all along.  Her lymphocytes are within normal range so I pray it is not lymphoma.  Dr is thinking puppy strangles, although her age is all wrong, as strangles is normally found in pups four months and younger.  However, there is nothing normal about this poor little one and we know she had a horrible start in life.  Not a lot is known but, from my brief research, this is looking like an autoimmune disorder.  With the anema and alopecia, we have long suspected a suppressed immune system.  I would desperately like to do a hair analysis to see if her system is deficient or excessive.

Dr will draw from the lymph this afternoon, after she is more hydrated, to see what the fluid looks like.  He might need to send out slides for evaluation.  It could be Staph or Strep and he is concerned that some of the nodes may have ruptured.  His goal, as of now, is to get her stable and off IV by Friday evening.  He told me just a bit ago that this is the absolute soonest she is coming home.  She is one very sick little girl.

Each foster takes a piece of my heart but this special soul has taken it all.  I broke down in fear at the clinic and attempted to prep myself for the worst.  I am so thankful the CBC is not indicating lymphoma.

I just talked to Tammy at the clinic and she said Hope looks less swollen in the face and more comfortable.  I requested that Dr check for Ehrlichiosis either via test or blood smear to look for morulae.  Ehrlichiosis is an infection of white blood cells that affects various mammals.  Clusters of Ehrlichia multiply in host cell vacuoles(storage bubbles found in cells) to form large mulberry-shaped aggregates called "morulae".  She is exhibiting several symptoms of chronic Ehrlicia and was terribly tick infested when brought to the shelter.  From her rib cage forward, not one square inch of her body did not have a dessicated tick attached (dessicated from the Frontline spray) or a scab from a tick bite.  It was the grossest infestation I have ever seen and I got the impression that our favorite shelter worker had not seen any dog this bad either.  Kern Co. is notorious for Ehrlichiosis.  A history of tick bite or exposure to tick-infested habitats is reported in 50% to 90% of Ehrlichiosis cases.  For more on this disease, click here

This disease is known as Canine Aids because of the way it affects the immune system.  Thanks to Katie from Aussie rescue, who has been helping me all day in trying to research Hope's symptoms and figure out what is going on with her.  Hope crashed so quickly after her surgery and rabies vaccination, and these stressors can cause Ehrliciosis to flare.  Dr tends to be very conservative.  That is a good thing most of the time to conserve rescue dollars but I think we all would go the extra mile for a special one like Hope.  Her immune system is in the toilet.  She has been anemic all along.

I really suspect we are looking at at least two problems that manifested from the stress of her surgery.  I can't tell you how much I am kicking myself for having her spayed.  She seemed to be doing so much better and I didn't want to play Russian roulette with her coming into heat with my male and the fosters that are not fully sterile from their neuters yet.  I couldn't have known.  Katie keeps reminding me of this, but it is still hard, knowing the grave condition she is now in.  I pray she pulls through. Please God, she has to.

Last update of the evening:
Dr drew from the lymph and got puss, which indicates Staph or Strep.  At this point he is not going to do a culture.  He did the Ehrlichia test and that went out.  My gut tells me this is such a strong probability and would expalin so much of her condition prior to crashing.

He said the glands are softening and will more than likely go in tomorrow to lance and clean out all the infection.  I am to call him at 10AM to see how it went.  He sleeps at the clinic, so she is in good hands tonight.

I really believe that certain dogs are sent to us for a reason and the turn-key ones play such a vital roll for dogs such as Molly and Trooper, Heath, and now Hope.  Even Cassie, who is now in God's keeping with Butchie and Tay, was given the peace she so desperately needed.

I'm sorry if I drowned you all in veterinary stuff, but this is the way we all learn.  Dr. Connelly is very conservative, but Paul is the one who instructs them to take good care of us.  Paul is an angel to rescue and has been for so many years.

BCIN has been so incredibly blessed.
November 14, 2008
I spoke with Dr at 11 this morning.  He said the swelling was softening and coming down, she was woofing down food, and had a better attitude.  He decided not to lance, but rather to just tap the lymph.  He didn't want to put her through any more trauma than needed.  I agreed her immune system is not strong enough for such invasive surgery.  He told me he was going to leave her on IV till evening, still pumping antibiotics, B vitamins, prednisone, and fluids.  He said the Ehrlicia test results might come in as soon as tomorrow.  I am to hot pack it several times a day using Epsom salts.

I had to work today, so stopped at the vet on my way home tonight.  I was shocked when I went back to see her.  The edema in her face has spread to both sides, all the way down her muzzle.  It is very soft and squishy.  Poor thing looks so pitiful.  Under her neck is so much better though.  Joanie said he tapped her twice and took amazing amounts of puss out.  The stench was vile.  While the bill was being calculated from her chart, Hope again made that horrible retching noise, though there was no vomit.  She had not vomited all day.  She only ate a few bites of the canned I/D given for her evening meal.  I'm not confident that her coming home is the best but Dr will not be back until Monday.  Joanie wants an update in the morning on how she does through the night.

Hope's attitude is a bit better, but she is not out of the woods yet.  She is still very sick.
November 16, 2008
Hope's attitude is much improved.  I have my little "dancer" back when she is up.  She is sleeping a lot, which is just what her body needs to fight off this massive infection.  The glands are starting to fill again, as I was concerned they would.  For some reason they are not draining properly . Could it be she just has so much they are overloaded?  The edema in her face is gone so at least she looks better.  The neck was rock hard and lumpy earlier and right now it is a bit softer.  Hot packing doesn't seem to be making much difference but I continue per Dr orders.  We are only at about 10-15% of the swelling she had at the worst stage.

I have been making a thin slurry of the canned I/D food prescribed.  It is so thick she can't seem to get it down otherwise.  She still retches after eating.  It is a horrible sound and just breaks my heart that she is in such distress, but she must eat.  She can not afford to lose much more body weight.  She lost 5% in 7 days and this is a girl that didn't have any excess to begin with.

I hoping the test results we are waiting on will reveal what we are fighting.  It would make sense of her condition and give us a proper course of treatment.  If it is Ehrlichiosis, as I suspect, the steroids will only take her down further.  Right now I feel like we are shooting darts in the dark!
November 18, 2008
From Suzanne:
Sorry to send this out so late tonight.  I have been in contact with Debi--she is so devastated with Dax's passing (Dax was Debi's first BC and had to be crossed on Monday), and now our little Hope is not doing too well.  She is not responding to the IV fluids that were being adminstered by Dr. Connelly, and it looks like her body is not fighting off the infection, as she still has an elevated temp.  Dr. could not lance the nodes due to this.  Debi is facing the hard decision of crossing her tomorrow if there is not any improvement or a better outcome.

Please keep Debi and Hope close to your hearts and pray for better news tomorrow.  Debi asked for my blessing to make the decision and she knows that if there is a possibility to help Hope, I am all for it, no matter the cost.  I am sure we all feel the same way.  As a group of rescuers, now is the time that we need to embrace and support one another for the losses that several of us have endeared recently...and to give us courage for the hard decisions that we each might face. This is the dark side of rescue that tears a rescuer apart.

Peace be with Debi and Hope.
November 19, 2008
I know you are all waiting to hear, so this will be the first of some good news emails I will send.

Talked with Dr early this AM.  Hope's fever broke in the night, although he said her head "looked like a pumpkin".  She had intermittent edema in the face from Friday.  He planned to do the surgery early.

I called before they closed for lunch and she made it through.  He found some deep pockets of pus and a lot of pinkish fluid.  She was leaking this sticky serum-like fluid when I took her in on Monday. I asked about the ruptured nodes and he said there was a lot of cellulitis.

I spoke with Dr just before they closed, she had eaten and, up until then, had kept it down.  The ImmunoRegulin had arrived and she got her first dose to help boost her immunity.  She will not be released until they are sure she can keep food & water down (thank you!). The soonest we are looking at will be tomorrow evening.

She still has a long way to come but this little girl is quite a fighter!  My outlook is still guarded but I pray this is a step in the direction towards a healthy pup.
~ Debi
November 20, 2008
I did not pick her up tonight.  She was taken off IV today and so far is keeping food down.  I will get her tomorrow when Abigail goes in for her spay.

Tammy told me she still looks really pitiful and Dr told me there is still a lot of swelling in her head.  Not sure what she will look like tomorrow.

I'm hoping she will be easily managed by this time next week.
November 21, 2008
Hope is HOME!  I brought our special girl home this afternoon.  She looks terrible but the swelling is almost gone.  The techs told me that yesterday she looked so much worse.  They shaved her neck further and she has two holes where Dr lanced.  Those will require diluted betadine flushing twice daily.

She was so cute today when I peeked in on her before running Ciara and Joe to the adopter's home.  At first she didn't recognize me and then I spoke to her.  She sat up with sparkling eyes and seemed very happy to see me. That might not seem like much but this girl was pretty feral on intake.  She was a model patient at the hospital, as once you have a hold of her she is petrified to move.  They all fell in love with her.

At home, parked in the driveway, while getting the other dogs out, Hope climbed onto the seat.  She usually hides on the floorboard and has to be pried out like sardines from a can.  Then she climbed onto the dash wagging her tail, seeing and hearing "her pack".  She was so excited to be home.  She even walked across the seat to me so I could pick her up.  These shows of confidence are all big steps for her.

She is laying at my foot under the PC desk as I type.  This is her safe spot inside the main part of the house.  Looking down at her makes me realize my gratitude to each and every one of you.  We all work so hard to help give these dogs another chance.  It's that teamwork that has placed so many, and allowed us to build a medical fund for special needs dogs.  Of course there are not enough words of thanks to those who have generously donated to Molly and Troopers medical fund, leaving some to help Hope.

She still has a long way to come but it looks like she is now over the mountain.

BCIN has had such good fortune in knowing Paul and getting established at his new clinic.  He is such a good man and an angel for all the animals. Hope is now close to a $2K dog, but at any other clinic in this area that would easily be doubled.  Down near LA, I shudder to think, as it could easily have been triple that.  She has been hospitalized on IV since Monday.  I thanked Joanie again profusely.  She told me for the umptinth time how much they enjoy me as a client and they whole-heartedly support our efforts in helping these dogs.

From all of us at BCIN, our heartfelt thanks to all of you at High Desert Veterinary Care: owner Dr. Paul; vet Dr. Connelly; and staff Anne Marie, Joanie, Tammy, Malika and Lisa.  Hope is not yet out of the woods, but thanks to you she now has a fighting chance at life.

More updates on Hope's condition to follow as they come in.
November 27, 2008
Hope is getting better day by day.  Dr wanted to put her back on steroids to bring down the neck swelling, but I talked him out of it for a week.  Let's let the immuno stimulant work!  The CBC should have come back today but work was crazy and I didn't get a chance to call to see the values.  It is coming down on its own, meaning her own body is starting to function properly.  I see a marked difference tonight and she wanted to eat dry kibble.   This is the first dry food she has had in over 2 weeks.  Her attitude is very good and she wants to play.

Dr is still going with puppy strangles.  Little is documented and it's pretty rare.  Those in the know *think* is that it is an auto immune disorder.  Untreated, the dog will die, as the infection and swelling suffocates them.  Being anemic, Hope has had a compromised immune system all along.  The alopecia is another indicator of suppressed immune function.  She is what we call a "poor doer" or "unthrifty".  Puppy strangles hit between 8 weeks to 4 months.  This gives you an idea of how retarded her development is.  A sound BC bitch weighs quite a bit more than 20 pounds at over 1 year old.  This little one is more the size and mentality of a 6 month old.

If suspicions are correct and she was born into a puppy mill, she had a very rough start at life and may not have the best genetics behind her.  I hope with the immune stimulant drug we can get her on the right track to being a healthy girl.  Right now she is being fed a high protein, very low grain diet to help her body function.  She may always have to be fed this way or maybe she can be weaned back to a grain based kibble.  We are a long way off from knowing yet.  I still want to do a hair analysis on her to see if she has excessive or deficient values in her body.  It will give us the big picture on what is going on and then we can treat her as a whole dog rather than just treating symptoms.

It's hard not to be a champion for the underdog.  These fearful ones can really grab you, all of you, and make you want to fight to the ends of the earth if need be.  Giving detailed updates is three fold: for her story on our website so people can truly understand what we do; to educate all of us on canine illness; and also as a release for me from the sometimes intense feelings I have about her condition.  When she was not responding, it was very wracking for me to think I might lose the battle with her.  This would be much too soon after losing Cassie, a foster that had epileptic grand mal seizures, and then Dax, my old guy.  Crossing dogs takes it's toll.

I have had so many medical needs dogs in the past few months and it has been a roller coaster of emotion.  I would be very happy for a break from them for a good long while now that Hope seems to be over the worst.
December 5, 2008
Hope went for her IV shot today and the little dumpling is now 21.6 pounds, whereas just two weeks ago she was 19.6. I've put her on Instinct, which is a grain free food, to help her liver function and immune system.  She had a good ride over and actually looked out the window quite a bit.

Dr is happy with her progress and knows we ran out of Baytril first of the week.  She is doing very well without it now.  No push to put her on steroids, so I didn't have to face that argument. He thinks 2 more shots and she will be released.

I had to wait for her CBC from last week.  The results never arrived, so they faxed them.  I asked for Dr to come out and go over the values with me.  She is still showing anemic and has some other values I am not happy with.  She is going on Val syrup BID and calve's liver BID.  In addition to the astragalus (immune system), I had a shopping list for the health food store.  I'm putting her on milk thistle (liver) and we are going to try coconut oil for the alopecia internally and externally.

I want to run the values by Katie but there is a chance she has lymphoma.  Some of her values are pointing that way.  I'm not going to get too shook up just yet.  I will have Dr draw for another CBC in 2+ weeks.  She is doing so well, feeling good, and is trying to play with some dogs she knows well.  I can't ask for much more than that right now.  Dr admitted today he thought he was going to lose her for a few days when she was hospitalized.
December 20, 2008
As Christmas quickly approaches this foster mom can think of no better present than Hope's recovery from puppy strangles.  Wed. we received over 2 feet of snow, which is quite unusual, (not for snow, but in this amount). As you can see from the photos, Hope had a ball.
She is doing so much better learning to play and just be a dog.  I had a new experience with her. In her excitement, during snow play, she started nipping the backs of my legs.  It was very gentle, with no grip, however I'm not quite sure how hard to correct.  I allowed it a few times and then gave a verbal correction.  Getting a hold of her to give a muzzle correction is not so easy just yet.  Her game is still to dance about, just out of reach.  She has to learn this is not appropriate play with humans.

She also started herding the other dogs, although it's half play and half serious right now, and too soon to tell if she would like to work sheep.  I fondly call her my little BC that rides the short bus, her growth so mentally and emotionally retarded from her former life in a tiny cage.  To see her relax just a bit every day and play with the other BCs has been rewarding beyond words.  She is learning to be a dog...sigh.
After analyzing her CBC we are seeing no evidence of lymphoma at this time, although it is still suspect.  Her anemia continues and Dr was not happy after pumping her with IV B vitamins for 4 days.  It is something we are addressing through diet and supplements.  The rest of the values indicated she was fighting infection.  Phew! This may just be as healthy as she can be, but I'm still exploring alternative therapies to make her whole body well.

Hope and I wish each and every one of you a very blessed Christmas.  From the depths of my heart, thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and kindness for this special soul.  It has been felt and so deeply appreciated.
December 14, 2008
Hope had a real set back Saturday night after PetSmart.  She vomited and dry heaved for over 3 hours.  She was so miserable she started to tear out the hair from her tail.  It was like the whole strangles thing starting all over again.  I kick myself for taking her.  It was too much.  But by morning she was fine and trying to play.  She has been holding steady.  Bloodwork showed anemia and her body fighting infection.  No signs of lymphoma, but we will need another CBC for comparison in 6-8 weeks.

She seems happy and comfy and that is all I can ask.  The cellulitis (tissue swelling) in her neck is all gone now.  Now just to build her little body up, beat the anemia, the alopecia, and teach her to be a dog.  She came to me for a reason, you know.  I keep asking what she is here to teach me.  I haven't gotten a full answer yet.  If she came to die, well I've done that gig plenty of times as well as work with feral dogs, so I don't believe in my heart that is it.  Maybe it's to learn about holistic care and to make a dog a healthy, whole animal.  That seems to be where I am at with her right now.

I know you couldn't see it, but she is trying to be a very cute.  I'm her safe zone and she is with me wherever I go.  I'm still waiting for her to lick my hand though.  Such a long road we have together.
April 27, 2009
Well, our tough medical case is going to the vet again.  I have been so danged preoccupied taking care of the injured sheep that she slipped my watch.  She had a yellow eye discharge last week in one eye only.  She has been outside most days running and happily herding the gang, finally acting like a dog.  The inner eyelid is showing about 1/3 all the time.  She has dropped a LOT of weight and her eyes are sinking in.  Even when she had good flesh, her head was always really boney, like skeletal.  She still vomits water and/or food more than I'd like.  Meds did not really help that.  Now I find a mass over her rib cage.  An irregular mass in a kidney or "L" shape that is about 4"x3".  This is NOT at all good.  It is no where near where she has had injections that I know of, so probably not a reaction.

We'll see what Dr. says.  We've decided on a CBC.  Cancer is a concern.  We could be coming to the end with her.

I'll post once we return from her visit, but CBCs have to be sent out.
April 27, 2009
Dr kept her for over night observation.  Her temp was 102.0, weight 22 pounds, very slightly dehydrated.  He is not happy with the loss of muscle mass.  He tends to ponder out loud and mentioned some form of muscular dystrophy.  He feels an in-house general health blood screening is enough.  He doesn't think cancer.  I asked about the sunken eyes and inner eyelid.  He said fat has metabolized behind the eye.  Now that her eyes have sunken, there is nothing to keep the inner eyelid back.  If she was one of my sheep, I could lay money she is dying, but she is a dog.  My expertise is not there.

In looking at what has changed, she started going out with the gang on her own about 6 weeks ago.  She loves to go out and herd the others in play.  She started to stay out for longer and longer periods of time, and I swear you could see her smile from ear to ear.  It made me happy to see her just being a dog and loving life.  The difference is that outside the food has grain.  I had her on Instinct exclusively and she was getting great body condition, except for her head.  Could it be the difference?  Coincidence?

All I know for certain is she starts to thrive and then does poorly.  She is a "project dog" as Connelly says.  The vomiting of water and food has never gone away, even with regalin (sp?).  The moaning sounds she makes when she wretches rip my heart out.

I know very little except for this.  I will not allow her to suffer.  She has learned to trust me and me alone.  She has learned the joy of being held and loved.  She has learned to be a dog, to romp and play.  I am not ready...too much tragedy for me lately.  God give me the strength to be merciful, to be the good shepherd.

Please send some good vibes her way.  I still pray for the magical answer that will make her healthy once and for all.
May 2, 2009
Hope woke me a little before 5 vomiting and retching.  She has been moaning with every breath and is in distress.  I will have her at the clinic door when they open at 9AM.

Listening to her moan in pain is tearing me up.  I fear we are at the end of the road with her.  The atrophy of her muscles continues.  Her eyes are so sunken now and she is not able to close her eyelids anymore.  Her mouth does not appear to fully close anymore either.  She is wasting away.

I am sorry guys.  I don't know what else to say.  It looks grim.  I am most sorry for this special little soul that came into my life.  It has certainly been a roller coaster of emotion.  I so wanted to make her whole and healthy.  No matter what I have done, the odds seemed to be stacked against her.

She got a shot of dex. when I took her in earlier this week and Dr put her on oral pred.  As before with puppy strangles, coincidence or not, on the pred she is crashing.
May 2, 2009
It is with tremendous sadness that I inform you Hope was given back to God just after 10AM this morning.  Dr came in, spoke her name, looked into her eyes, then said it was time.

Hope started this winter becoming a dog.  It started with me pushing her out the door to play.  Within a month or two she would run out willingly with the mob.  Her time spent outside became longer and longer until I had to bring her in reluctantly (on her part)at dusk.  Her days were spent playing Border Collie games; ball, tag, and herding each other.  You could literally see her smiling from ear to ear.  She was a very happy girl.  Her body had become so strong and muscled.  She was putting on weight and her red coat glistened in the sun.  True to her name, she was giving me hope that we were going to make her healthy and whole.  She had taken to nipping my heels, herding me.  I had dreams of taking her to sheep to see if she would like to work.

Hope tolerated other people if she had to, but I felt she really trusted me.  She learned that human affection is a good thing.  She was always my "Goonie", but would come up for loves and became quite fond of rubbing in her favorites spots, around her neck where she had had surgery with the puppy strangles and of course her rump.

There remained three troubling issues.  No matter what I tried, the alopecia around her eyes, muzzle, and tail would not clear or would return.  She never regained the muscle lost over her head from when she had strangles.  I was still hopeful that with her body muscling, the head would follow.  She would vomit intermittently.  Usually just water, sometimes food, too.  We tried meds to calm her digestive tract, but they did not help.  She had obvious discomfort during these times and would moan in pain.  The next day she would act as if she had never been ill, out running like the wind.

Then she started to lose weight.  I thought maybe she was just spending too much time out running instead of eating.  Then one eye started to sink in and she had difficulty chewing food.  She went to the vet immediately this past Monday.  The loss of muscle in her head had gotten much worse.  Dr. was not happy with the loss of muscle over her entire body.  Her temperature was slightly elevated.  Dr. kept her overnight.  He felt it was an auto immune disease, maybe MS or MD.  He offered a muscle biopsy but cautioned the test very well could be inconclusive and the diagnosis would require a specialist.  He did in-house blood work and it came back normal, and even the anemia was gone, which I felt was a huge triumph.  While I can not prove she was the product of a puppy mill, all indications point to that conclusion.  A "genetic nightmare" as Dr put it.  Dr had named her my "project dog".  He gave her steroids in hospital and sent her home Tues with more.  He told me I should see improvement in 7-10 days and if not to bring her back.

Sadly, she did not get better.  She woke me in the wee hours this morning retching and vomiting.  She was in such distress that she just curled up fetal and moaned for hours.  Pepto helped a bit but it took a long time to work.  I was at the clinic when they opened the doors.  It was time.  I could not let this precious soul suffer any longer.

Dr. is such a kind man.  He pulled up a chair and expertly placed the needle so she didn't have to leave the comfort of my lap, her head nuzzled into my shoulder.  She went peacefully back to God where she is now whole and healthy.  I couldn't do that for her on earth.  I tried so very hard with her for 9 months.  She is back where she should be, free from the limitations of her wrecked body, at peace.  Dr left the room quickly before I could see him cry.

We went through much, my little girl.  You learned that not all humans are bad.  You learned that you could relax in my arms during hug therapy and I would keep you safe.  You learned what it was like to lay in a pallet of soft blankets, never to be cold or sore again.  You learned that if you could gather the courage, I had a tasty treat to offer you from my fingers and even became brave enough to lick my fingers, even if just a little.  You learned that the food bowls are always full and you never had to want for a full tummy ever again.  By the time you reached one year old, you learned to puppy play with the little fosters.  You started to learn the joy of being a dog.  You surprised the heck out of me that day I called your name and you came right up to my feet and sat for a pet.  You learned that I could bring you pleasure with my touch and you sought it out.  You got to see snow, lots of snow!  What a joy to watch you play with the others and how you smiled!   These past months you learned to be a "big" dog, out playing with the adults.  The joy on your face could not be denied.  Even just last night when I had to coax you in at dark.  What a good day you had just being a dog.

My precious girl, you take my heart with you.  You are in my heart forever, for you take the largest chunk with you.  I am broken, though I know I will mend.

BCIN would like to thank all those who have contributed to Hope through their prayers and/or donations.  You made the work we did with Hope possible.  You helped her to live long enough to know the joys of a dog's life.  For that, we are eternally grateful.

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