Thursday, February 16, 2012


Thursday night the 2nd, I took several pics of G'kar, knowing it was the last night we would have with him.

Poor old man tried to turn around and couldn't stay standing.  I remember him as a young pup, so full of life with laughing eyes.  So much has passed since then.  The twelve years we lived in North Carolina, he grew up a southern husky.  We used to call him 'Iron Gut' to honor the day he stole a whole pan of brownies off the counter and ate them all with no noticeable side effects besides a slightly softer stool than normal.  G'kar loved bread, and we always had to hide it in the fridge or inside cupboards, because if we left it out, he would eat it, even a whole loaf still unopened in the wrapper.  Still, he was a very healthy and fit dog, agile as a cat, and could jump like nobody's business.  To his credit, though he could jump the 6' fence, he never did.  He much rather stay by us at our home, and accompany me on many walks rather than take excursions on his own.  But no fence or barrier would ever come between him and me. 

He jumped boxes, tore up crates, soared over baby gates, tore down wood doors to be at my side.  He was my shadow in more ways than one.  He was always at my side even though he was supposed to be my husband's dog.  He slept by my bed, followed me anytime I left the room, and pined for me while I was away at work.  When I would come home he would greet me at the door with "herrrrooow!"  If he could talk, he would have, and tried to on many occasions.  He was my buddy through thick and thin, and I miss him terribly.

Jim went out and bought him a 12oz sirloin, and I heated it in the toaster oven to 180 degrees, chopped it in to bite size pieces and fed him.  He happily gobbled down the gormet offering, and let me hug him and pet him for a while.  When I let him go, he resumed his awful pain-filled pacing, his eyes glazing over again.  We gave him a full dog-aspirin, and got him to lay down after it began to take effect.  He fell immediately asleep.

At 10am I carried a distressed G'kar out to the truck.  A cranky and fussy old man to the last, not happy with the undignified means of transport, but he was in so much pain all he could do was fuss.  When I got in beside him, he did not want to sit still, but as he tried to move around in the back of our expedition, he was unable to keep to his feet.  Each time he lost control of his back legs, he screamed in agony, and I couldn't help the tears.  It tore at my very soul to feel his agony.  I managed to get him to kind of stay on the seat beside me so I could hold up his back end and relieve some of his pain.  But the corners were unkind to him, and each time he lost his footing he would scream, not a howl or yip, but a true scream.  If there was any way I could have spared him the agony kindly, I would have.  I longed for the vet we had in NC who would have come to the house, but we have no such luxury here.  Our vet here has been wonderful, don't get me wrong, and they have been very good with our pack, but they are daytime only and too many clients for housecalls.  At least they were able to fit us in with their busy schedule, and for that I was grateful.

The girls at the office were kind and sympathetic, they've known G'kar for the three years we have been here and they remarked how much he changed over the last six months since they'd seen him.  It was apparent he didn't recognize any of them, or even where he was.  The journey had taken the last out of him.  We said our goodbyes, and I lifted him on to the waiting blanket.  I stroked his head as I cried and let him know I loved him as he quickly and peacefully succumbed to the euthanizing drug.  Just as we had the responsibility to care for him in his life, we had the responsibility to ensure a peaceful ending to his suffering. 

I do believe that animals have souls, and maybe it was my imagination, or maybe it was real, but on my way home, I felt a cold touch on the side of my face.  The touch of an ethereal husky tongue, and a warm feeling came over me as if his spirit came to me and thanked me for letting him go.  At that moment, I was at peace, and began to remember the good times.  He was a wonderful dog, companion, shadow, fuzzy kid, and I had no regrets except that his life was shorter than mine.

As if the stress I was feeling was contagious, during the night at about 1:30am Sunday night/Monday morning, Bandit had his first seizure in 7 months. It was a full grand mal. It was mild, considering the GM's he had in July, with only minor head shaking progressing in to stiff arching, paddling, and teeth chomping for less than 30 seconds. Ictal was a short 2 minutes. Ice cream administered and rescue remedy after I found it. We immediately gave him an extra 60mg Pheno pill and watched him carefully. At least this ...answered the question regarding the cause of his seizures. Though the jerky treats may have been reponsible for the onset of the seizures, it is now obvious they are not responsible for his continued condition. This also answers the question of whether or not exercise has been a trigger. I had been sick the past week so had not taken them out running.

Bandit may have had another seizure Tuesday morning, but unfortunately he was outside and I found him near a wet spot that looked like it might have been his saliva.  Other than that, there were no signs and I could not be sure he actually had one, but with his medication level back up, he hasn't had a problem since.  Though we may never get all of the old Bandit back, I am thankful we have a small bit of him back.  He has become more loving and less of the drunk and disorderly overgrown 4 month old puppy.  He and the new puppy Ghost are becoming pals.

Sunday the 12th, I finally felt well enough to take the team back out for some much needed exercise.  Princess did not want to turn around when I asked Freya to come around.  This resulted in a bit of a battle of wills and a lot of untangling, but I finally managed to get her to realize that she wouldn't get any fish unless she went back to the house.  When she got it, we were hell bent for leather back towards the house. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bandit's Meds and New Additions

For a while now we have been holding our breath and praying that Bandit will never again experience the horrible cluster episode that took his memory from us.  Seven months he was seizure free, and in our happiness and need to have answers, we thought to test the theory that his epilepsy was a result of the much vilified chicken jerky treats.  Each seizure he had ever experienced has been 12 hours following eating more than one of the things, so we were almost certain the onset of his condition was caused by these vile poisonous things. (See FDA warnings regarding chicken jerky treats for pets)

So we began to reduce his meds cautiously and watch for changes.  Ever since his July cluster episode and subsequent increase of meds, Bandit has acted like a drunk and disorderly dog after his morning meds.  He jumps on and plays with all the dogs in the house regardless of whether or not they want to play.  It is hard to say no to the biggest dog in the house, and at 80 pounds, Bandit normally gets his way or the victim finds someplace to hide.

Starting in the first week of January, I reduced his Kbr from 2cc to 1.5 cc and left his pb dosage at 90mg in the morning and at night.  After only two weeks Bandit began to act more normal, and some of his old self came back.  For the first time in seven months, he crawled in to my lap for a cuddle, and I almost cried I was so happy.  Before the cluster episode he used to do this at least once a day.  So, as the third week in January rolled around, a nasty bout of the Flu went through our house, but I had to take Bandit to the vet to get his bloodwork done.  I had also finally managed to convince Jim to purchase a show line husky pup!  Despite the raging fever, I was eager to talk to Bandit's vet about further reducing his meds and to pick up our new addition to Team Wyrd!

The vet was enthusiastic that we wanted to try to reduce his meds and gave us the go ahead after Bandit's bloodwork came back in good standing.  Instead of reducing by 30mg a day, though, I was encouraged to take him down by 60 mg a day, so he would have 60mg pb in the morning and evening, and 1.5cc of kbr in the morning.  Happy and optimistic I headed over to Shadetree Siberians to pick up Shadetree's Ghost in the Machine "Ghost", a very beautiful boy with incredible conformation, engaging bi-eyes and gorgeous markings with the pedigree to match his great looks.  Ghost will be training up and showing this coming spring.

It took all of 30 minutes to integrate him in to the pack, all of our dogs were thrilled to have a new puppy around, especially Moony.  From the moment she saw Ghost, she decided that he would be her puppy.
Ghost quickly made his way into our hearts, and is a very fast learner.  From the first day he was good about going potty outside as long as he was taken outside when he first began to sniff for a place to go.  As the week passed, he became good at pawing at the back gate to go outside when he needed to relieve himself.  He also was quick to learn how to work the dog door and how to navigate the porch stairs.

Life in team Wyrd was good except that G'kar was very visibly aging, especially since the beginning of January.  By Wednesday his arthritis was hurting him so bad, he began falling and losing control.  He would scream pitifully for help, and I would lift him up on his four legs.  Wednesday night he slept only a coupld of hours, pacing most of the time.  Thursday our vet office was closed, and we watched G'kar's condition deteriorate rapidly and debated whether or not to take him to the emergency vet.  By afternoon it was plain that there wouldn't be much they could do to relieve his suffering, only prolong it.  His arthritis had progressed too far, an unfortunate side effect of aging.  By Thursday evening we had made the decision to let him pass, so Jim picked him out a steak and I heated it enough to kill the bacteria and fed him his last supper.

Run Free Old Man! Be Old No Longer!

It is never easy to say goodbye, even when you see it coming. Friday Feb 3rd 2012 we bid a member of our family goodbye and I held him as he sighed in relief and slowly lowered his head. 15 years he has been a member of our family, from being the 'slayer puppy' to the sled dog, to the stately elder, to the fragile old man. It was a very difficult goodbye and with much love.