We took Niles and Daphne to the groomer last Wednesday because Noel’s family was coming to visit. We always give Niles and Daphne a “Buff & Fluff” when we have visitors…being real proud of the little critters.
The groomer called us a couple of hours after dropping them off to alert us that Daphne was having seizures.
When we got there poor little Daphne was having severe seizures and just barely responded to anything. Noel immediately took her onto her arms and we rushed her to the vets’ clinic.
Both Niles and Daphne had had their issues lately. Niles protracted an immune deficiency disease about 2 years ago and had been almost totally crippled at one point. After many visits to the specialists at Oakland Veterinary Clinic, exploratory surgery, and dozens of drug treatments we still can’t figure out what exactly is going on with him but he seems to be getting around okay.
Daphne was always the spunky, healthy looking one though. They were perfect playmates. Whenever I took them for a walk I had them leashed with a double leash and Daphne was always several steps ahead of Niles and pulled him along. Her little head darting back and forth…she didn’t miss a thing, jumping at every little animal, insect, or just a blowing leaf. She was the picture of health while poor little Niles was getting fatter from the drugs and seemed to have a hard time getting completely better.
Last year we took them in for a teeth cleaning and Dr. Alsager informed us that he could not treat Daphne because they discovered her liver enzyme levels were extremely high.
Treatments began immediately to bring her levels down but to no avail. So it was off to the specialist at Oakland Clinic again but this time for Daphne. Now we had two little sick dogs on our hands but Daphne never showed any outward signs of illness. She remained spunky as ever. We were almost in disbelief that there was anything wrong with her. But, each examination brought disappointing results however and no matter what we tried, her liver levels stayed stubbornly at their dangerously high levels.
Then about the beginning of May we noticed Daphne started to really lose weight. She always had a hearty appetite but it seemed everything she ate just came right out We knew she was in trouble.
We tried everything. Her little body got so frail and bony I was almost afraid her little bones would break. By Memorial Day weekend she seemed real weak. She started to wander around the house without any real direction and seemed to be in a daze, sometimes not even responding to us when calling her name. Taking her for a walk she would tire quickly. We knew we were losing our little girl slowly but surely. It was devastating to think we could not help her. When we took her to the groomer last Wednesday she seemed to be almost her old self for a bit. The groomers took real good care of her and made extra sure they handled her with kid gloves.
Then it happened. The convulsions were a total surprise to us. Noel was feeling so guilty about taking little Daphne to the groomer. She feels that stressed Daphne out too much and she should not have taken her in that weakened condition. Of course, she did not know that would be the end for Daphne. Dr Alsager was out of his office for a bit but his staff members went right into action. They took emergency steps to get Daphne stabilized. Her temperature was 91 degrees which is dangerously low for a dog. They started to warm her up immediately and had fluids pumping into her tiny little body in what seemed seconds and gave her a shot of Valium to calm her muscles.
Within a few minutes Daphne quit convulsing but she was really out of it. Her temperature started to rise and she started to at least open her eyes after an hour or so of this treatment.
As soon as Dr Mark Alsager returned to the office he administered his expert treatment to get little Daphne back to health. We left her there in a recovery unit with the hot water and air and fluids. The plan was to monitor her recovery until night time when we thought we could take her home. We were hoping she would pull out of it, but Dr. Alsager knew better.
She was much better than in the afternoon but not fully recovered. Her eyes were open and she responded to our voices but ever so slightly. We stroked her and kissed her and tried to coax her back from her darkness but it did not seem to help. Her sickness had gone too far and she was finally succumbing to it. Her little belly was yellow with jaundice and her gums were pale. We didn’t want to believe it but knew there was no way out for our little precious Daphne.
We thought about moving her to Oakland to see what they could do but Dr. Alsager advised not to. The dreaded decision we both knew would come was next.
Dr. Alsager prepared the serum and Noel just lost control. I am a bit less emotional but I could not hold back the dreadful feeling knowing this was the end. We said our final goodbyes to Daphne as the serum was administered. She seemed to just stare at us as if to say goodbye and thanks for everything you have done for me.
It took less than a minute and our little baby was gone. Our Daphne left us while we held her little head and stroked her face. The sinking feeling I had was incredibly severe. I have had many pets before but Daphne held a special place in my heart that I feel can never be filled. Noel never had a pet before. Noel was out of control the rest of the night. The next day was terrible not having Daphne around running from window to window and barking at everything in sight. Noel went for a very tearful run the next morning. She totally broke down crying like a baby as she approached the front porch knowing her little baby would not be there to greet her at the door. During Noel’s post-run stretches Daphne would lick the sweat off her face so very happy to see her Mama come home. Noel said she ran extra hard that morning as if to compensate for any suffering that she felt Daphne went through. Noel always told Daphne that she was the little girl she never had. There are so many "firsts" without her and so many reminders of her everywhere. How do you make the pain go away?
Thank you, Dr Alsager and staff for all that you have done for her and the precious paw print memento you made for us. Noel keeps it on her night stand and kisses every night.
A Dog’s Prayer
By Beth Norman Harris
Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.
When it is cold and wet, please take me inside for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to bitter elements and I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth. Though had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land for you are my god and I am your devoted worshiper.
Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.
And, beloved master, should the Great Master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest . . . and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.