Monday, January 4, 2010 7:54 PM
Happy New Year everyone.
I hope you are having a bright start to 2010.
We, however, have some sad news.
Our 3 year old Cocker Spaniel, Shelby, who we?ve only had for a year and a half, has been diagnosed with liver disease. And it?s terminal.
We?re still in shock; I don?t think it?s fully sunk in yet. Our previous Cocker Spaniel, coincidentally also named Shelby, had to be put to rest 2 years ago this March (on the 11th, our wedding anniversary). She was 11-1/2, which is a respectable age for a dog. But we always hope for longer, of course.
Since Shelby is so young the vet is puzzled as to how she developed such an advanced case. The ultra-sound showed that her liver is unusually small. She?s probably had a liver condition since she was born.
We?ve certainly learned a lot about the liver, such as how it can operate with an alarmingly low over-all state of function, as low as 25%. But if something goes wrong at that stage, the margin of safety is gone, and treatment is limited. In Shelby?s case only a liver transplant would fix her. But that is a rare operation even for people, so it?s certainly not an option for a dog.
The situation seems to have stabilized since Christmas. The vet changed Shelby?s food to a low sodium, low protein diet, and Shelby seems to love it. She still runs up and down the stairs, still barks at the mail delivery, still wags her tail, and still loves to sleep in my lap when I?m watching TV. We took her to Angus Park yesterday and she happily trotted along the riverside boardwalks.
This whole thing started when I took Shelby to get groomed before Christmas. Her hair had grown longer than usual due to a longer than normal interval between haircuts, but I suspected she had gained weight. After grooming she was indeed substantially bigger. Her abdomen was wider than her rib cage. After a couple more days her stomach region seemed, if anything, to be getting even bigger, and it felt like fluid inside when I touched her sides. We went to see the vet. They drained 1 litre of fluid from her abdomen, which equates to 4 pounds of weight. She normally weighs 20 pounds, but at check-in she had been 24.
After fluid analysis, urine and fecal analysis, blood analysis, an X-ray, and finally an ultra-sound, the vet determined Shelby had advanced liver disease.
We?re going to have a challenging start to 2010. We?re dedicated to keeping our dog happy and comfortable for as long as we can. We?re not going to try to prolong her life simply for our sakes. At this point she?s acting normally with no signs of distress. Her tail still wags as fast as it ever did. She?s a love bug, that one.
We just have to take it day by day and keep our eyes open for signs of distress. We?re still going to keep taking her to Angus Park on weekends as long as she still enjoys it. But needless to say, I?m not going to be planning any formal Meet-up outings for awhile. The vet isn?t sure how long Shelby has left, but I?m guessing about 2 months or less.
If anyone would like to volunteer to become an Assistant Organizer, outings can still be planned using the Spaniel Meet-up group website and resources. Please email me for details.
Thanks everyone for your friendliness and participation in this Meet-up group.
Dave and Shauna.