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How Did We End Up Here? Heartbreaking Times

Hello friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I update our blog tonight. I’ve been trying for days to get myself on here, but it has honestly been so painful I haven’t been able to start. The last month has been a challenge for dear Skyla. We have a veterinarian scheduled to do an in-home euthanasia tomorrow at 3pm. I’m hoping for a miracle, but preparing for her departure from this world.

After bouncing back from her amputation SO well, Skyla started to decline in her mobility and motivation in August. It was concerning, but I couldn’t really pinpoint anything was wrong. It was hot, and we had a very smoky summer here in Oregon, so I chalked some of it up to that. We were all feeling pretty low energy.

End of August, I started to feel concerned that she was in pain. I started her back up on NSAIDs (Vetprofen) to do a little trial. She seemed to be a bit better, confirming there was indeed pain. But where? It became obvious her remaining front leg was hurting her. We scheduled a vet appointment to get it checked out. Leading up to that appointment, I got increasingly concerned about her overall demeanor. Her legs felt hot, and her appetite seemed to dip ever so slightly. We took her in on a Saturday to avoid waiting until her Monday slot.

She was noted to have a considerable fever of 103.5 upon arrival. Bloodwork showed all was well, except for an elevated white blood cell count. We took chest x-rays and a view of her front leg. Front leg showed soft tissue swelling, but no fractures, tumors, etc. Her chest didn’t look so good. You could see two sizable mets had developed, and there appeared to be fluid in her lungs as well. Pneumonia. I never would’ve guessed. She hadn’t so much as coughed once. We started her on a pretty heavy regimen of antibiotics, and left with broken hearts knowing we were one step closer to the end.

That was last Saturday.

We consulted with her holistic vet midweek and changed up her herbs a bit. We also discussed Metronomics, and make the big decision to schedule an appointment with Oncology at Oregon State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. We were looking forward to discussing our options for slowing these mets down. I was feeling guarded but optimistic that we just needed to kick this pneumonia and we’d have a new plan.

Side note: it snowed in the mountains so we beelined it. She had a nice time hopping around in it!

Yesterday, my partner called while I was at work, concerned about her raspy breathing. You see, Skyla still hadn’t developed any respiratory symptoms, but continued to be low energy. Her appetite became pickier, although she hadn’t actually skipped a meal. But he called to say she had coughed, and felt her breathing was heavier than usual. He took her in for a recheck. Bloodwork indicated her white blood cell count was a bit higher, and her platelet count was slightly low. The vet recommended hospitalizing. Tough call, but we decided to take her home and see how she did over the weekend. Her antibiotic dose was increased. At any point, we could take her to the ER if needed, but we decided to shoot for having her hospitalized for the day on Monday with our familiar vet. She explained that pneumonia can take a long time to clear, sometimes two weeks, other times 4-6 weeks. Patience.

Today, Skyla declined considerably. I could barely get her meds in her. She was coughing/sounding congested with any movement. I was running steam showers and performing coupage to try to break up the congestion. Around noon, she coughed and I saw a big red flash of blood on her tongue. Off to the ER we went, deciding to go ahead and hospitalize. To our surprise, the ER vet didn’t even perform an exam, but decided to have a talk with us about letting go. He was fairly certain she was at the end of her journey. We took several new chest x-rays, and the change in just 8 days was shocking. Her lung capacity was nearly filled. He also felt strongly that although it seems like bacterial pneumonia is playing a part, that the space being occupied is much more consistent with tumors. He said he didn’t want to see her spend the night in the oxygen cage when she should be spending time with us. He recommended euthanizing today.

Sigh….my heart is beyond broken. It is shattered. We found a lovely mobile vet to come help her cross the bridge tomorrow. If anything changes, we’ll act sooner. I just needed time to absorb all of this. She is coughing considerably after getting up, but she is resting very peacefully most of the time. She’s very tired. She ate her dinner eagerly and took some Hydrocodone to help with the cough. Tomorrow we will take her to the park for one last roll in the grass if she’s up for it. I will hold her close and remind her over and over how she’s my best girl and I’ll love her forever.

I hate this disease for all of the dogs that have passed and all of those who are currently living with it. It takes them from us far too soon. Skyla is an 11 year old dog, a pretty old age for a larger breed, but I strongly feel that if it wasn’t for this affliction she would have many years left in her. She’s been such a strong spirit with a strong, healthy body. How frustrating to feel so helpless.

I will update more in the days ahead. I don’t even remember life without her; she’s been my sidekick for what feels like my whole life (I adopted her as a pup when I was 17 years old). The pain is nearly unbearable, but I’m trying my hardest to focus on all that she has taught me about love and life.


Rae & Skyla

Top: chest views today

Bottom: chest views 8 days prior

1 comment so far ↓

  • #   jerry on 09.25.17 at 5:18 pm     Reply

    Rae, I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. I am SO sorry. How I wish that my guesses about overdoing it were the reason she was feeling so down. I wish I could ease this pain you are both going through, I’m very, very sorry.

    Please call the Helpline if you want to talk OK? We are here for you now and always. In the meantime know that you and Skyla will always be rock stars of the Tripawd Nation. Now, her star will shine in the heavens and guide us and our Tripawd heroes on their adventures. Skyla’s legacy will forever be inspiring, beautiful and unforgettable.

    With lots and lots of love coming your way,
    Rene, Jim, Wyatt Ray & Spirit Jerry

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