I would like to introduce everyone to Sam's big sister, Cisco. She isn't a new dog to us; I've had her since she was a pup, and she is now almost 11 years old. If you all don't mind, I would like to share Sam's blog with her for just a bit.
We haven't included her in Sam's blog before because Cisco leads a very quiet life. Where Sam is a prince among dogs, Cisco is a lady. When she was eight months old, she came down with Valley Fever, a fungal infection that occurs in desert regions. Everyone who has ever lived in a desert has had it and thought it was a common cold. Most of us can get over it, a few can't. Cisco was one that couldn't. One thing that was on her side was that we caught it early, although she was very sick.
I beat Valley Fever!
The next few months were terrible. In dogs, the leading cause of death from Valley Fever is starvation. Between the medicine and the illness, Cisco didn't feel like eating. I'd come home every evening and sit with her for hours trying to get her to eat just a little bit. She was super skinny and her fur fell out in clumps and what was left turned grey, but we were slowly winning.
One day I came home from work and noticed her eyes seemed funny and swollen. I rushed her to the vet and found out that a rare side effect from the valley fever medicine was cataracts. I also learned that Cisco was now cured of the Valley Fever! Cisco was just 15 months old. We brought her to a specialist who did lens replacement surgery on her. She was able to see for a few months before the new lenses failed and Cisco became blind.
This was a terrible learning curve for us! The first night I let her out for potty, she ran straight into a cholla cactus. I spent several hours with her in the tub, pulling needles from her head, ears, chest, front legs and underside. Since then, the bathtub is where she goes when things get really hard for her! It wasn't all bad, though. I could still walk her and by buying balls with bells in them, I could still play catch with her.
Things were starting to settle for us, until one day she had a severe seizure. Once again we rushed her to the vet. Dr. Kern prescribed her medicine, which helped to control the seizures, but she would still have them if things got too exciting. They would happen during walks, during baths, when too many people were around, the list went on and on. We slowly realized that I had to keep her quiet, which meant I didn't have a dog to hike with or play with. This is when we got Sam.
We'll save Sam's story for another day!
When Aaron and I married last year, we brought Sam to our house and tried to bring Cisco. The move was too hard on her. She was in unfamiliar surroundings and couldn't settle down. She fell in the pool and the larger gravel around the patio hurt her paws and she didn't want to walk on it. We made the decision that she should stay with Grandma. It wasn't too bad - we saw her twice a day when we went to feed horses!
...I get lots of treats when Mom and Dad come!
Right before Thanksgiving, a massive and aggressive tumor erupted on Cisco's leg. Her paw swelled to about three times its normal size and she was in pain. We brought her back to Dr. Kern and we were given antibiotics and pain medicine. The swelling had to go down! We finally reached a point where surgery could be done, and we brought Cisco in. Dr. Kern had to cut so much away that the wound couldn't be closed. We brought Cisco home and made her a comfy hospital bed!
I am a good patient, though!
Sunday she started vomiting. She couldn't hold anything down, even water. By Sunday evening we noticed she was tired and listless. We brought her back to the vet on Monday. We all assumed that the medicine was making her sick. Dr. Kern put her on fluids and kept her overnight. The next morning we talked to Dr. Kern and she told us she wanted Dr. Green to run an ultrasound on Cisco. The news that came back broke my heart. The tumor had spread. I left work and headed home (a two hour drive!). Aaron and I talked briefly about our options, but we went to the animal hospital fully aware this would be Cisco's last day.
Dr. Kern then gave me a wonderful early Christmas present. She couldn't save Cisco, but she could give us a few more precious months with her. She would be pain free and happy! It all depended on the next couple of days if she could be stabilized. I think I cried just as much at that news as I did with the previous news.
We get to bring our girl home today. We don't know how much longer we will have with her, it may be a few weeks or a few months, but we would like to include her in Sam's blog during this precious time.
Cisco and Sam, December 2009