Monday, March 24, 2014

More than "just" a dog

IThis past week has been a very rough week for our 4 legged fur baby. What we wrongly assumed would be a some what simple diabetes diagnoses for Cooper turned into so much more. I won't bore you with all the medical details of what happend, but will give a brief synopsis. Monday when I took Cooper to the vet bloodworks showed and ultrasound confirmed liver/gallbladder disease and failure. After lots of fluids and close monitoring (due to his congentital heart murmur) he got the clear to come home on a coctail of medicine with instructions to come back for a recheck in 3 weeks to determine if this was an actue infection or if he is in fact in liver failure. All was well Thursday evening and all day Friday. Friday evening he really seemed to have perked up and even got down on the floor and tried to play with Eric and the kids. That night we noticed his breathing was a little more shallow than normal, but nothing too concerning. Saturday morning the kids actually slept in a bit so we took advantage of the extra of the extra sleep too. After Claire got up I got in the shower and Eric went to fix Claire some breakfast and let Cooper out to potty like normal. All of a sudden Claire comes running into the bathroom saying "Cooper not feel good, Daddy need you now"! I got dressed and went to see what was the matter. His breathing was weird and he kept hacking like he was trying to catch his breath. You will need volume, but this video sort of describes how strange it was.

 I quickly called his vet who said they were booked for the day, but they would fit him in I may just have to wait. I started to argue with them that he needed to be seen NOW, but decided it wasn't worth the arument and his breathing should speak for itself. I was right and they immediately saw him. I will say the vet office we have been seeing has been fantastic about communicating all options to us. Never pressuring us and always running every cost by us first. When we first moved to the Houston area Cooper was just a puppy and I had to take him to a vet because he kept vomitting. Cooper's main vet is an awesome office back home who did (and still does) all his vaccinations, checkups, teeth cleaning, and anything that isnt urgent. The small town we come from everyone has full confidence in their vet and although animal care isn't cheap it is also still affordable and there aren't alot of "options". They treat the pet with the available equipment and medications they have and send you on your way I never knew any other way. Anyway back to when Cooper was a puppy and got sick I called the first vets office I had seen nearby. Long story short they are a chain vet (not that all chains are bad), but for a normally healthy puppy whose only symptom was vomitting the estimate to "cure" him was over $600! We didn't have that kind of money then. They didn't give me any other choice and basically made me feel like I was a terrible pet owner if I didn't do all the recommended testing. I left feeling helpless. That first experience has made us very leery of all vets in this area. Thankfully through some friends and the wonderful experience we have had at the vets office he has been going to through all this my faith is restored. I mean, you have to (or most have to) truly love animals to become a veterinarian. The hours are long, the pay isn't what you would expect, and the days are often filled with difficult patients, owners, and decisions. As the week progressed I began to feel sorry for the fantastic doctor Cooper was assigned to. She truly wanted him to get better and never recommended any testing that wasnt necessary or treatment that wouldn't help him, but before she could do anything she had to call one of us for cost approval. I understand why, but I still felt bad for her when I knew her heart was in the right place. I know I said I would keep the medical stuff short Saturday morning Cooper was in heart failure. The very thing that helped his liver (all the fluids) is quite likely what sent him into heart failure. We knew this was something we would have to face with his heart murmur, but never expected to when his 7th birthday is just right around the corner. The doctor explained our options of trying all we could or that we do nothing and it was his time to go. Obviously you know our decision was to try everything we could. I am glad we did as the echocardiogram showed his heart isn't all that bad and that with his breathing they expected it to be much worse. He is still a "ticking time bomb" as one doctor said, but hopefully with the right treatment and monitoring we can help him lead a longer life.

If you would have asked me a month ago if I would ever consider spending the amount of money we did the past week on a dog I probably would have told you "no way, it's just a dog". Well as it turns out our Cooper isn't just a dog to me. At the very thought of losing him I was a complete mess. Everyone knows going into owning a pet that humans live longer than animals and the loss of that pet is a sad thing they will one day have to deal with. I just couldn't say that at not even 7 years old it was ok to say goodbye. You see Cooper has been with us the majority of our marriage. He was our 1st anniversary gift to each other. He kept me company while Eric had to start his postion in Houston before I had found a job and could move yet. I was the one taking him out to pee all hours of the night, cleaning up the endless mess a puppy makes, and snuggling with him at night to get him to sleep. When we moved he was our best friend in a new city in which we knew no one. He eagerly greeted us each day that we came home hoping and praying we would adjust to the move soon. He was our first "baby". He snuggled next to me month after month that we failed to conceive a child. He never complained about the many tears I cried on his fur wondering if we would ever have a baby. He was my baby. He was the one who told Eric (by wearing a big brother tshirt) that I was pregnant with Claire. Then when we brought Claire home he didn't get mad. Instead he went into a deep depression for the first month. Almost a catatonic state. We laugh about it now, but back then we were truly worried about him. When Claire started eating at the table and crawling on the floor Cooper quickly fell in love with her. They became and still are best buddies. He was everywhere she was at and she the more she giggled at him the more he would show off. When Luke was born we worried about him becoming depressed again. Instead this time he didnt pay the new baby a whole lot of attention besides a quick sniff or kiss on the forehead when the baby was in reach. Within a few months it was obvious he cared about Luke too an Luke was almost a welcome relief from the crazy active toddler that was constantly chasing him around. He would lay on Luke when he was having floor time almost like he wanted to blend in with the toys.
Playing with baby sister

Loving on baby brother or hiding from sister
Sister made him the "baby"

I will be the first to admit that when the kids were born that he wasn't quite the "baby" anymore and more of "just the dog". His barking was suddenly more obnoxious. Me yelling at him not the wake the baby. His accidents were all the more frustrating, just another mess in the long line of messes I needed to clean up in the day. We bought a new couch and suddenly he wasn't allowed on it. Not to scratch the leather. He was assigned the loveseat in which we never sat on. Poor guy was used to snuggling next to us everynight. When I was pregnant with Luke and quite irritable from being hugely pregnant, not getting much sleep, and chasing around a 2 year old all day I made the decision it was time for him to sleep in his kennel at night and he got kicked out of our bed. Like all dogs do he went through a few days of adjusting to new rules, but quickly adapted and never complains. So, I get it, I do when others look at us in disbelief for giving up a room remodel to save "just the dog". I have given that look too and quietly shook my head saying I will never be that way. Truth is there is no way to describe the love you have for your 4 legged family members until their life hangs in the balance. How you will react or feel isn't something you can plan for. You cannot understand someone's grief over their pet until you yourself have experienced it.  Our mini Cooper is now resting on a blanket on that new couch snuggled next to me right where he should be.

Being taken care of by brother and sissy

Taking care of sissy while she is sick

When Cooper was a young baby (by the looks of it so were we)! 

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