Moving on

I have received several e-mails asking that I continue blogging.  I can’t do it.  Since my negligence in May, it’s only gotten worse.

We lost Gertie in June, not due to her age, but from ongoing complications of a leg abscess that wouldn’t heal.

We lost Angus in July.  He didn’t eat his dinner on a Sunday.  That Monday x-rays showed a tumor in his abdomen and another against one of his lungs.  While the abdominal tumor was operable, and Angus was healthy enough for surgery, the one against his lung wasn’t. 23 days later we had to say goodbye.   The only blessing we had is that Angus was an old man for only 23 days.

We’re still taking it day by day with Emmi.  Whether or not the brain mass is gone is irrelevant.  The herniation of her brain out the back of her skull, and the resulting complications, won’t go away.

John, at the time, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than losing 2 so close together as you did with The Man and Chienne (sp?).  I’ve lost 4, 3 I couldn’t control, 1 wholly and completely my fault, and I’m now watching helplessly as a 5th slowly fades away.

I can’t blog any more.  Reality hurts too much.  I hope you all understand.

Instead, I’m creating a new reality, in the form of a series of children’s books.

In Tales of the Woof Pack, they will all, even our always loved Maude, lost in 2014, live again and exist in a world where none of them will have any of the physical disabilities or health problems they did in life.  None will ever be subjected to human cruelties or negligence.  All problems will have solutions and every day will be an adventure.

Here’s how it started:

We forgot to tell Gertie, when we said Goodbye, not to send another dog to us.  Gertie knew how I felt about the prospect of any other dog in our home – I don’t deserve the company of the dogs I have after what I did to Vito.  But Gertie didn’t think about what I wanted and put me on a collision course with a street dog with a lump on one side of her head and a rotting eye on the other.

Katie,  just after I picked her up that Saturday evening.  The dark spot in the center of the white eye is the inside of her eyeball oozing out.  Dr. Baker at Paradise Valley Emergency Animal Clinic agreed to do an emergency Enucleation that same night so Katie didn’t have to suffer from the pain of the infected and rotting eye any longer.  

The rotting eye was removed that night.  Near total blindness due to a detached retina, most likely related to the lump on her head, diagnosed in the other eye 10 days later.  The separated and reversed femur which may need major surgery in her later years found a week or 2 after that.  Do you want this dog?  I know I didn’t.  What do you do?

Katie after surgery

Crabby named her Katie.

Katie was a stress I really didn’t need.  But somewhere along the way, she gave me something back: A way to make my dogs immortal.  She became the conduit which took my dogs to a place where they would always have fun, always be safe, never be alone and most importantly, live forever.  Katie gives me the way to introduce my dogs to children everywhere.

Book 1 of Tales From the Woof Pack, currently with the working title, subject to change,  “Finding KatieDid”, illustrated by the amazing Nnasco Akwu, KatieDid goes from being a stray with a rotting eye to sister to Hector and Sarah in a new forever home.

KatieDid the dog
Katie ver 1
KatieDid the cartoon, created by Nnasco Akwu
To the locals:  Do you recognize Dr. Baker of Paradise Valley Emergency Animal Clinic?  I sent his web site photo to the illustrator to make the vet in the book look like him.  Wouldn’t you know, PVEAC recently changed the photo to a more recent one showing Dr. Baker with his current beard.  Illustration by Nnasco Akwu. 


In Book 2, “Dog Park”, KatieDid meets the rest of the dogs, who live with various diverse families in a world where differences are celebrated, not argued over.  At the end, KatieDid takes the oath of The Woof Pack, a promise to live by morals that we as humans seemed to have lost.

In Book 3, “Dog Derby and Mutt Show”, well, I can’t give you anything on this one without spoiling it.  This is my favorite so far.

Writing these stories isn’t the same as social media.  Children need short sentences. All I have to do is watch my dogs and the lines write themselves.  I carry an old school notebook with me and when one of the dogs does something that creates or helps continue a story, I only look away for a few seconds to write that line down, then I’m back to playing with the dogs.  The laptop Crabby got for me means I can lay in bed at night and transcribe my notes with a blanket of dogs to keep me warm.

Run A Muck Ranch is over.  Tales From The Woof Pack is just beginning.  Hopefully you will come along for the adventures.

Book 1, Finding KatieDid will be available in print and e-book by Christmas 2016.  The Spanish version, if not at the same time, will be available soon after.

Banner final

Follow the publication process on Facebook at Tales From the Woof Pack.


Vito disappeared on Saturday evening.   I found him today.

He did not go gently, with love, me holding him.  He was alone and scared and he couldn’t fight back.

I am not asking for, nor do I deserve your condolences.  Vito gave me so much and I rewarded him by failing to protect him. He was lost while I was playing a game on the computer when I should have been playing with the dogs.  Had I been doing what I should have been doing, Vito would be alive and safe today.

I don’t deserve the light of any dog.  This is not the first time this has happened.  That it is not the first time means I have no right to have a dog.  That is for good people, not ones who cost lives due to negligence.  I thought we had safeguards in place but apparently they weren’t good enough.  No, the safeguards were good enough, I just let my guard down and this was the result.

To the locals:  I can’t talk to you about this so please don’t bring it up.  I don’t deserve to say Vito’s name unless it is to beg his forgiveness.

To the Run A Muck Ranch followers:  I’m not sure I can come back from this.  This blog, the lives of the dogs, none of it is real.  That there are 12 remaining dogs is only because I haven’t failed them  yet.  I don’t think I will be able to write anymore.

To general Social Media:  I’m done with it, even the Run A  Muck Ranch page,  except for Gertie’s page.  I won’t shut down her message or her love of meeting people.  It’s not her fault I am irresponsible.  We will continue to collect hugs as she is able, but once she is done, that’s it.  No more social media.

My only job from this day forward is protecting my dogs.  A simple thing that I clearly am incapable of.  Maybe taking away distractions will help keep the other dogs safe.

I’m so sorry Vito.  I would trade places with you if I could.  Please be in a better place now.   I’m keeping my Keppra alarms so that every day, twice a day, I will be reminded of how I failed you.  I’m so sorry baby.



Meds, Meds and More Meds

I have been really sick for over a week now.  I finally gave up and went to a doctor yesterday.

Not only do I have the plague, it is starting to mutate into the Zombie Apocalypse virus.

For the first time ever at Run A Muck Ranch, a human requires more meds than a dog.

On the left, my “Prevent the plague from mutating into the Zombie Apocalypse virus” drugs.  On the right, Emmi’s brain tumor drugs.  

For the record:  I haven’t missed a day of work since I got sick.  OK, so once I get home I fall into a coma, but hey, I still work!


The Long Overdue Gertie Bio

No better time like the present to get Gertie’s bio written.  It will be 2 years since she moved in, after all.

It’s been a long, strange trip for Gertie.

Here’s the short version:

An apparent domestic upheaval split Gert’s original family between Arizona and the east coast.  Further issues occurred with the family  member remaining local.  Gert and Pablo were left(?), abandoned(?), surrendered(?), tied to a tree at a local McDonalds.  They had been there all day when Crabby beat Animal Control in picking them up.  That was June, 2014.


Let’s pause for a flash forward: Gertie’s east coast family reached out a year later and informed me that Gertie was 13 (then) and not the generic and regular 10 year old estimate of all foundling senior dogs.

OK, now let’s flash back again – to 2014.  Gert Gert was clearly old, was generally sluggish, and had difficulty moving.  For that reason, and those of you who follow this blog will agree, Run A Muck Ranch was NOT the place for her.  You can’t drop a Fine Old Dame on the island of The Lord of the Flies and expect it to end well!  Gertie got a courtesy post on a local senior dog rescue site.  Of course no one was interested.

For my part, I made sure Gertie was well cared for.  She got her 2 squares a day, scritches, pets, hugs and of course her evening Old Lady Plumbing Walks.  All the while I wished she lived somewhere else.  Being Mom to Slugger is a full time job as it is!  Being Mom to Slugger + 11 other Idiots, and Sarah was exhausting.  I really didn’t have the juice to incorporate the special needs of a giant, uber senior into the mix!


Then came that fateful day in October, 2014.  Gertie was in a bad way.  We were at the vet within 2 hours.  An hour later, the recommendation was to put her down.  Even if we could afford the costly additional tests, chances were (emphasis added) she probably (emphasis again) wouldn’t respond to the treatment.  With dogs in Gertie’s situation (yup, emphasis again), the best thing to do would be to let her go.

Those emphasis statements aren’t exactly quotes from the vet, but they were the general gist of what he said.  I’m not sure what you make of them, but what I heard was Gertie wasn’t worth it.  I then deduced that Gertie had deteriorated to that point because, well, what reason could she possibly have to stick around?  Sure, she was well cared for, but no one cared for her.

I declined on letting Gertie go that day.  Actually, that was the very day I made Gertie my own.  I would no longer be her caretaker.  From that day forward I would be her mom.



That’s all it took. It’s 2016 now and even with Gertie’s worsening arthritis (especially when I let her get too heavy) she is scores better than she was the day Crabby brought her and Satan’s Cheewawa home back in 2014.

Gertie has forgiven me for not being a mom those first few months. She knows she’s my Lady now.  We have a daily routine for just about everything.  No worries about shirking my responsibilities because if the appointed time arrives, and I am not already making the necessary preparations, Gertie WILL remind me, including but not limited to, the 1:30am, written in stone, does not vary EVER, pee.

Sarah used to be the only source of intelligent conversation for Gertie, but when Sare Bear passed away, it became Gertie and The Horde and she seems pretty content with the situation.  She will play with Morty.  She accepts Marcy’s worship.  She shares dog beds with pretty much all of the others. And she is as mystified as we are as to how someone as stupid as Slugger could possibly exist.


Gertie is patient, kind, so very loving and has a beautiful smile.  She absolutely loves meeting people, new and old, and has no issues with inserting herself into the personal space of anyone.

Gertie knows she has nothing to worry about anymore, but sometimes if she wakes up and I’m not in the room with her, she gets a little nervous.   It used to be she would shuffle from room to room looking for me, but that got old pretty fast.  Now, she just barks.  She knows 1 or 2 thunderous roars are enough to bring me running.

A few tid bits about The Gert Gert:

She sleeps with her eyes open.  On more than one occasion, I found her in a deep, barely breathing sleep, and thought she was dead.

She is completely deaf. She could be sleeping (with her eyes open of course) and the rest of The Horde decides to start a mosh pit within inches of her and she will not so much as stir.  (And you wonder why I thought she was dead a few times!).

After every meal, Gertie must wash her face.  If there is nothing else available, the closest human leg will do.

I have never known a dog who loved a hug as much as Gertie.  Doesn’t matter who the hugger is, a hug is a hug and Gertie loves it.


Gertie doesn’t move like a dog.  Rather, she moves like a Standardbred (horse) pacer.  In her mind, she’s racing like the wind, but to the casual onlooker, it’s a little old lady shuffle.  Which brings me to one of my favorite Gertie stories:

Once, while I was talking to a neighbor during one of Gertie’s evening walks, a lady on a horse passed by.  I didn’t pay any attention until the lady called over to me – kid you not:

“Is  your dog chasing us?” she asked, watching Gertie, with great concentration, pacing up the road after her.

“Yup” I said – not concerned that Gertie would ever catch up.

After a short pause the lady called back “Should I slow down?”.

If a person on horseback offers to slow down to allow a chasing dog to catch up, you just know there’s something about the dog.


There is a serious disadvantage to bringing a super senior dog into your heart:  There will never be enough days.  But there is an even worse disadvantage to not giving a super senior a chance:  You don’t have any days.

We knew going in Gertie wouldn’t be with us very long in the scheme of things.  But rather than focus on time, we focus on times – as in the good ones.

Here’s hoping there are many more to come!










The Value of Big Brothers

We had a pretty nasty storm on Sunday.

Marcy doesn’t like storms.

When a particularly loud clap of thunder rattled the house, I went looking for her.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one ready to comfort the visibly trembling Marcy.   Someone beat me to it.

Big brother Vito to the rescue

Vito stayed with Marcy, licking her eyes, resting his head on her neck, and comforting her until the storm passed.

How lucky is Marcy to  have a big brother who cares so much about her?

A Synopsis of Gertie’s Hugging Expedition Today

Work, Emmi, an incident with Gracie (don’t worry John, she’s fine) were already enough to keep me in non-regular-blog mode. The Cutest Pet Contest we entered Gertie in sucked up the rest of the time.

Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to keep up with sharing contest entries on social media?  I even took a foray into Craig’s List, Backpage and a few other less than desirable sites on this!  Thank goodness it’s only a 10 day contest!

The result:  We’re in the lead by 100, contest ends tomorrow.   Gertie just may grace the cover of the May issue of 85086 Magazine and gain publicity for 1,000 Hugs for Gertie yet!

A truly awesome result:  The publicity Gertie is getting for her campaign is incredible!  Though they don’t count toward Gert’s goal of 1,000 physical hugs, she has received virtual hugs from as far away as Italy, Russia, Spain, and Japan, to name a few.  Many of these virtual hugs being accompanied by photos of elder dog family members of the hugger.  If Gertie’s mission accomplishes nothing else, it has provided a forum for people to strut their senior dogs.  That’s a pretty good accomplishment if you ask me!

Anyway, this week is Arizona Bike Week.  Gertie had great luck collecting hugs from bikers in the past, so we decided to try again.  It was going to be less than 80 degrees outside, and Cave Creek, a biker hot spot, is very close.

Heather, hug #16, introduced Gertie to several of her friends in the Desert Souls Brotherhood at the Roadrunner back in December.  I should have realized then that bikers are the best huggers.

So off we went, at 11:30 am this morning:

Gertie knows when she’s loaded up and her vest is near, good things are on the horizon!


You’re never too old to hang your head out the window!  Sorry about the water spots on the mirror.
First parking location.  Can you hear the crickets?  The place looked completely abandoned.

Cave Creek is not known for it’s reasonable parking accommodations on a good day.  On a day with hundreds, possibly thousands of bikes, we knew it would be especially problematic.  The original plan was to park at the Post Office after it closed, then walk to the festivities.    The Barkista Mobile was as big a flag as we could wave to Facebook people who went to Cave Creek to hug Gertie.  See the car, know we’re here.  Want to find us?  My phone number is on the front corner panel.  Just call me and we’ll find each other. Also, the Waggin’ Wagon isn’t as nimble as the Barkista Mobile.  If parking was at a premium we needed nimble!

2 problems with this original plan:

1)  Despite living here for 20 years, AND at one time being the Assistant to the Town Engineer of Cave Creek, I was clueless as to the distance from point A to B.  It was too far for Gertie to walk.

and, even if Gertie could go the distance

2) There was a sheriff deputy posted nearby to make sure no one interloped on the Post Office Parking lot.

So we went right into the belly of the beast, parking in Gateway Park, with a relatively short walk to the festivities.

And then were were there:

This was just the eastern edge of motorcycle parking.  They went forever!

Gertie got her first hug within seconds of walking into the vendor area, then her second, then her 3rd.

Gertie made a canine friend, the beautiful …  I’d tell you her name if I could read my own writing!  It starts with an M and ends with an “a” or a “u”.  My bad!

By hug 6, minutes after arriving, we realized we had a problem:  Too much heat was radiating from the pavement and it was quickly taking it’s toll on Gertie.

So she lay down in the shade of one of the trailers, and the hugs kept coming

Hug # 50, Vonda at Bike Week, 4/9/16

In the shade of another trailer came more hugs.  Under the shade of a booth, yet more!

Group Hug!  Ashley (r) was hug # 55.  This is hug # 55.5 and 56, with Small  Block.  Is this not a great pic?

At this point only 15 to 20 minutes had passed, and I don’t think we had made it 100 feet since entering the vendor area, but we had to call it quits.

Gertie had no problem with the crowd.  Actually, I honestly think she would have preferred we took the leash off so she could mingle more freely.

The motorcycle and other loud noises were not an issue either – keep in mind, Gertie is completely deaf!

The problem was, despite it being less than 80 degrees, so much heat was bouncing off the pavement, Gertie was uncomfortable and not having fun.  Remember, the most important part of these expeditions is that Gertie have fun.

So we had to turn around, which is when we met Eric, Hug #60.

We ran out of water within 5 minutes due to the heat effect.  Eric gave Gertie a bottle on the way out.
Which lead to a great wet spot to lay in!

The exit was just on the other side of this trailer.  We found a tree to sit under for a few minutes to help Gertie cool down a little more, then we did the only rational next move.

A stop at Dairy Queen for a little more cooling therapy

Where we met

Linda, Hug #61 at Dairy Queen.

All told, Gertie collected 19 hugs in, at most, a 1/2 hour at the Bike Week Vendor area.  If the heat hadn’t gotten to her so bad and so quickly, I have no doubt we could have collected 100 easily, probably more.  But Gertie’s comfort is more important than hug count.

Weather permitting (there’s a storm coming in), I may try to see if I can take her back tomorrow morning when it’s cooler.  I don’t have to work, so I can get there earlier.

Both from the experience at The Roadrunner back in December, and the hug collecting expedition of this morning, I can honestly say, bikers by far are the most open and welcoming huggers. Bike week only comes once a year, and it would be very disappointing to lose so many hugging opportunities.  Cross fingers conditions tomorrow allow for more hugs.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you who hugged Gertie this morning.  You made an old lady very happy.

My personal favorite:

Duchess, hug # 58.  She kept on hugging Gertie long after the camera was put away.  Gertie would have stayed in her arms all day, if not for the heat.
I’ll be ready for more hugs after a nap, Ma!  Can we go again?  Huh?  Can we?

To see all of Gertie’s collected hugs, go to The Photo Album on her Facebook page.  I’ve set it to public so non-Facebook users should be able to see them.



Facebook Anyone? Gertie Needs Your Vote

I apologize to those of you sane enough NOT to have a Facebook account since you can’t participate, but for those who do:

Gertie has been entered in the 85086 Magazine’s Cutest Pet Contest.  Is it because she is a cute pet?  Nay I say!

Gertie has her own facebook page, 1,000 Hugs for Gertie, where she is trying to get 1,000 hugs before she dies.

Gertie, all decked out to receive hugs. 

Gertie absolutely loves meeting new people, and believe it or not, loves getting a little too cozy with them.  It kind of came to me in a dream that we should see how many hugs she can get from unique huggers.   1,000 Hugs for Gertie sounded so much better than 75 Hugs for Gertie or 128 Hugs for Gertie.  Ergo, the campaign 1,000 Hugs for Gertie was born.

That was the easy part.  I swear I could find more participation if I were begging for money!  At least then I’d be normal!   But I’m not asking for money, I’m asking for hugs for Gertie.  That makes me one of the reasons people carry pepper spray!   I guess people aren’t used to Crazy Dog Ladies asking people to hug giant, geriatric dogs.

In 4 months we’ve amassed a whopping 38 hugs (see them Here.  Unfortunately, I don’t think you can see them unless you have Facebook.)

As promised, we removed the people bed since jumping on or off of it was a danger to Emmi. Problem is, the mattress remained just long enough for Gertie to think all of her dreams had come true:  A people bed she could get on.  So, while the people are relegated to the floor on camping mats,  Gertie and siblings now enjoy the luxury of  a pillow top mattress, with free linen service.  We didn’t have the heart to take the mattress away from Gertie. 

Back to the Contest:

85086 Magazine is a magazine with a target area of those residents in zip code, you guessed it, 85086.  It is distributed, free, to all residents and businesses in that zip code – a number exceeding 50,000.

What zip code does Gertie live in?  85086.

A win would get Gertie the cover of the May 2016 issue as well as a feature story.  That feature story couldn’t be written without mentioning Gertie’s goal of 1,000 hugs.

A feature story about a furry old lady looking for hugs would connect Gertie with a hundred or 2 huggers close to home and make other people less likely to call the white suits on me, pan handling for hugs.

So, can we get your vote?

Like 85086 Magazine (click here to go there) on Facebook, then click the “85086 Cutest Pet Contest” tab (to the right of the photos tab).  Find Gertie’s photo

This is the one they are using for the contest

And vote for her.

You can vote once a day.

Blessedly this is only a 10 day contest, so voting ends on April 10.

A vote today could mean many hugs for Gertie in the near future.

The lengths we go to here at Run A Muck Ranch to keep The Horde happy.


Emmi, the Final Word

The mass in Emmi’s brain can not be removed and we can’t afford the $9 to $11,000 shunt that would save her life IF the mass is the result of Valley Fever.  We can not determine if the mass is a cancer because it’s position makes it too dangerous for Emmi to undergo a spinal tap.  If it is a cancer, chemotherapy would be the treatment of choice, though if it is a non-cancerous mass, chemo would only ‘maybe’ help.

With further investigation by the neurologist, in consultation with others in the veterinary field, it was determined that Emmi can not simultaneously take chemo and Valley Fever treatments as each would negate the effects of the other.

Since brain cancers are very aggressive and chemo is very hard on on the patient, given Emmi’s current state, the unanimous veterinary opinion is not to put her through it.

Brain disseminated Valley Fever cases are the most difficult to treat, but the treatment is not as hard on the patient as chemo.  Valley Fever medications are very slow acting.   IF the mass is related to Valley Fever, treatment may not work, or start to work, in time.  Brain disseminated Valley Fever cases are also the most fatal.

In the end, we’re doing a crap shoot.  Emmi was started back on Fluconazole for Valley Fever.  She is also on prednisone to reduce the brain swelling, as well as a separate medication to counter act the negative effects prednisone has on Emmi as was shown when she was given the drug last year for another problem.  All we can do now is wait and see.  There are no other options.

We could lose Emmi any day now, or a week or month from now, or, if we’re lucky and what I am wishing for, at least 2 years from now.

For now, we have to keep Emmi very quiet for at least a couple weeks.  No running, jumping or anything that would jiggle her swollen brain.  She is much improved from last week with the anti-inflammatory effects of the prednisone, but she is still not as Emmi as she was.


This will be the last sad post about Emmi and her condition until we lose her.  Life has to return to normal for the sake of the other dogs and for our own sake.  Every accommodation will be made for Emmi’s comfort, every vet directive followed to the letter, but we will stop making it All About Emmi from this day forward, though I can promise she will be hugged and cuddled more.

I will end this sad post with some humor for you:

Emmi is not allowed to jump.  Despite her condition, she gets on the couch and we’ve caught her getting ready to jump on the people bed.  Since she can’t be monitored when we’re asleep, and she may try to jump then, the answer is to get rid of the people bed.  Yup – it’s going away.  Any rational person would get rid of civilized sleeping accouterments for the sake of a dog, wouldn’t they?

As luck would have it, Crabby’s camping sleeping mats on the hard floors are actually more comfortable for our aging backs than the people bed mattress anyway.  Bonus, since Emmi sleeps with people, if you put the people on the floor, Emmi has no reason to try to get on [or more dangerously, off] the people bed.

Today we invested in air mattresses and sleeping mats.

Crabby demonstrating the ability to stretch out unencumbered by dogs.  The theory was, if the dogs prefer the people bed, just put all of them, including the little ones up, and we will have plenty of space for us and Emmi.
Theory blown.  Where ever Mom is, dogs are sure to follow.
In the end, the air mattress was relegated to the role of soft landing strip should Emmi try to jump off the couch if we’re not looking.
It’s also a more comfortable sitting space for her minions (us) who usually have to sit on the floor anyway because The Horde never leaves us room on the couches.

Until the people bed is gone, all we have are narrow strips of floor to put our (as in human) sleeping mats.  Surely the more back supportive floor, even if it’s a narrow strip, will afford a more roomy people sleeping space….  Not!

I would never post, for the world to see, a pic of myself sleeping, but this one  taken during a much needed nap was too good to pass up.  Note the width of the mat.  Now note how stretched comfortable and roomy it appears to be for Gracie, Willy and Pablo.  Slug appears quite comfy on his private bed. Gert was stretched out in her preferred warm weather home – the master bathroom.  Emmi’s feet show her also on a private bed.   Something about me being pushed off the mat, onto the floor, squashed against the wall somehow seems so wrong.

I’m sure once we can get rid of the bed, and possibly some other furniture, not only will Emmi be safe, but there will be ample space for humans and dogs to cohabitate peacefully with ALL able to sit and sleep on soft surfaces.  For now though, it’s a work in progress.

But when it’s all said and done, we will have another problem:

If you take away my people bed, I WILL kill you in your sleep!

Prayers for Emmi

It doesn’t seem appropriate to immediately jump on social media after getting home, but frankly I don’t know what else to do with myself while we’re waiting.  Maybe one of you will have the right energy, the right prayer, some superpower to fix this.

Emmi has a mass at the back of her brain, constricting flow from her spinal chord.  It is too solid to definitively say it’s an infection, but too vague to definitively say it’s a tumor.   Whatever it is, it’s been there for a long time.    When she saw the mass, the neurologist believed the anesthesia necessary for the MRI would kill Emmi if not then, then within a very short time.

Emmi didn’t die right then.  In fact, she woke up faster than seemed possible given she was, as the neurologist said “Circling the drain”.

You guys haven’t been here to see what it’s been like for Emmi since Sunday night when this all started.  2 ER visits, an appointment with the wrong type of specialist, then today’s visit with the neurologist.  It’s been hell on Emmi.  We promised and continue to promise our dogs that we will never let them suffer.  We’ve crossed the line with Emmi this week.  For that reason, I told the neurologist that we had to let her go.

The neurologist asked for 24 hours. That Emmi survived the anesthesia, and that she woke up so fast says we should give Emmi that much.  So this is where we’re at:

Part of the diagnostic to identify a tumor is a spinal tap.  The location of the mass makes the procedure impossible for Emmi.

If it’s a tumor, it’s inoperable and all we can do is try to shrink it with chemo.  Ruling out everything else, chemo treatments should be at least attempted.

If it’s an infection, treatment and prognosis depends on the infectious agent.  We are waiting for the results of a battery of tests and cultures as we speak.  Most should be ready later tonight.

It could also be related to an autoimmune problem.  I would have thought her myriad of blood tests would have shown us something before now.  Her pre-anesthesia blood work today showed a healthy dog – yet physically she should not have survived the anesthesia, but she did.  An autoimmune problem could be masked.  Prednisone and lots of it, would be the treatment.

Emmi had Valley Fever.  Apparently, just because a dog doesn’t show a titer doesn’t mean she doesn’t have it.  Also, just because a previously positive dog tests negative, it doesn’t mean the disease isn’t still progressing.  If everything else comes back negative, we assume Valley Fever (or tumor) and hit her hard with an IV antifungal, and fluconazole for life, skip the titer tests because they are irrelevant.  There would be no guarantees.    The preferred treatment would be a brain shunt- but the $11,000 price tag would make this impossible for us.

As you know, Emmi was very sick when she came to us.  This could be a relic from that time and we never are able to connect it with any particular issue.

As of right now, Emmi has been given steroids to help lessen the swelling in her brain while we wait for test results.

Emmi was alert, and her eyes more focused than they have been when I left her. But we have been warned that despite this ‘improvement’ caused by the steroids, she could still die in the night.  Her brain is in no condition to handle the anesthesia, the stress, all of it. But if it does prove to be an infectious agent that can be treated….

Leaving her there – even though I couldn’t be with Emmi, I should have stayed in the parking lot.  I would have been there for a phone call if she takes a turn for the worse so she doesn’t have to die alone.  I would think the night staff would give us that mercy.  But now she’s over an hour away, in a strange place, with no lap to lay her head on.  All we can do is wait for morning to see her again and hope she doesn’t die in the night, thinking I abandoned her.

Please, someone out there, have the power to fix this somehow.


Update:  Fri pm: The neurologist just called.  Other than her hematocrit, all of Emmi’s other blood values, including tests for infectious agents which have come back so far, are all normal.  This in itself is not normal given Emmi’s condition.

Assumption at this point tumor or Valley Fever .  They don’t have the IV Valley Fever medication nor the chemo drugs.  Will start her on Fluconozole, IV antibiotics, continue IV steroids and fluids through the night.  If Emmi makes it through the night, she will come home tomorrow afternoon with I’m not clear how many drugs.  Monday contact an Internal Specialist for the IV Valley Fever medication and an oncologist for the chemo drugs.

Update:  Sat am:  Emmi made it through the night, continuing to surprise.  She is alert, eating and drinking.  Though she is still wobbly, she is not falling “as much”.

We’ll be picking her up at 2:30.  An appointment has already been made for Tuesday to get the ball rolling with the chemo and the IV Valley Fever meds.  (Neuro Vet said they wouldn’t be the ones to do this part anyway).   The only earlier opportunity would be to drop her off Monday morning and pick her up later in the day.  Emmi is stressed enough – leaving her in a cage for the day is not an option.  A shorter in and out early Tuesday morning will work better.

Keep sending Emmi your healing vibes.