About Sarah

We had a real scary with Sarah on Friday.



I think an explanation as to what we are dealing with is in order to go with the video:

Sarah has Valley Fever, and it has gotten into her bones.  At this time, the bone lesions aren’t so bad that they affect her much, but when she has a day when she is sore, Tremadol does the trick.

Problem is, Sarah can’t tolerate the full dose of her Valley Fever medication.  It makes her very sick.  Therefore, she is on a low dose.  The medication is, at most, slowing the progression of the disease.

Concurrently, Sarah has severe bone spurs along her neck, due to some unknown injury in the past. Those vets that suggested surgery gave it a 50/50 chance of helping her with this problem.  And those were only the vets that recommended surgery.  Remember, we are also dealing with what amounts to untreatable Valley Fever as well…

Since we have had her, a couple times a year, Sarah’s neck problem turns severe.  The first time it happened, she was in so much pain she couldn’t move.  It came on in  a couple of hours.   It took nearly a month before she felt well enough to play.

It took a year of vet visits and referrals to come up with a decision.  This is what it is based on:

We are not treating the Valley Fever, just slowing it.  The amount of slowing is up to debate.

Prednisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps with Sarah’s neck problem.  Unfortunately, Prednisone negates the effect of the Valley Fever Medication.  Additionally, it has serious side effects if used long-term.

Pain medications have no effect on Sarah when she has a severe neck episode, unless she has the anti-inflammatory benefits of Prednisone on board.  If the pain gets too severe, Sarah is in danger of having a stroke.  Indeed, one vet hypothesized that Sarah’s ‘funny’ gait is due to a minor stroke in her past.

Sarah’s world revolves around sleeping on the couch (not seriously active unless we are on walks, so she is happy ‘resting’ ).  Being sedentary most of the day brings no objections on Sarah’s part (not effecting quality of life).

Sarah eats, drinks, plays and otherwise is pretty happy with her life.

The severe episodes only occur 2 to 3 times a year, and when caught early, take a week to snap out of.   It isn’t the pain that takes a while – it’s her energy level.   But refer back to her preference for the couch.

Despite being on Valley Fever medication, unlike her siblings, she is not getting better.

This is the ultimate treatment plan for Sarah:

Continue low dose Valley Fever medication.

Start Prednisone immediately when Sarah shows a ‘spell’ coming on.  Each time, she is on it for 3 weeks in a descending dose.

Tremadol whenever she shows pain.

If Sarah’s episodes increase in number, discontinue treating the Valley Fever and put her on long-term Prednisone.

After this point, if her episodes increase in frequency, or she STARTS to suffer organ damage from the Prednisone, let her go.

Basically, we keep Sarah comfortable and happy for as long as we can, and we let her go at the point where quality of life is starting to be effected.

You might think we are crazy for what we are doing.

Remember, we took Sarah in when she was about 2, injured, skinny and scared, with an unknown history.   We didn’t deliberately seek out a ‘dying’ dog.

We were told Sarah wouldn’t get better and euthanasia was the only ultimate option.

But we were also told, if we were willing to do it, we could manage her condition, and the ‘when’ for euthanasia could be pushed off to some undetermined date, estimated to be within 2 years.

The bad days, blessedly few that they are at this point, are difficult.  The end will be absolutely heartbreaking.  But everything else…  it makes it all worth it.

Sarah has forgotten her past and loves her family and her life.  She is so happy!  You can see it in her smile.   And for all she has given us…  I can’t express it in words.

Please, don’t give up on a medical dog, even if you know you will ultimately lose the battle, even if it is a dog you don’t know.  Please, give them as much of a good life as they can have.  I promise you, you WILL be glad you did.

But if you do, please also remember that there is a difference between ‘alive’ and ‘living and know when to let go.


21 thoughts on “About Sarah

  1. What you have done and are doing for Sarah is remarkable–giving her a full, love filled life is all anyone can do. I’m with you–quality over quantity.

    I’m in the same boat with my old dog. His meds for myesthenia gravis make him sick to his stomach, but without it he is so incredibly weak he has a hard time walking. Because of his chronic ehrlichia, steroids (which can help with the m.g.) cause the ehrlichia to break out and joint swelling/pain ensues. So, he gets some meds when he can handle it, rest when he can’t and, when the going gets too tough, I will let him leave this world knowing he is the most loved and best old dog in the world. The difference in our situation, however, is that Charley, my dog, is old and Sarah is still so young.

    If I were in your shoes, I would do exactly the same thing. I see so many people who insist on continuing treatment for a pet that obviously is ready to go or whose quality of life is poor. Making that final decision is hard, but sometimes it can be the kindest choice left for us to make for our furry friends–giving them peace from chronic issues and preventing suffering.

    When the time comes, Sarah will leave this world knowing how much you love and cherish her. For now, enjoy the time you do have together. What more could anyone ask for?

    1. Isn’t it simply AMAZING how our vocabulary expands and our pharmaseutical (sp?) knowledge goes off the charts over these fur kids? I have never heard of Charley’s condition, but I wil be looking for it in the future! I have 12 chances to experience it…

  2. So sad but you are doing a wonderful thing, giving Sarah some good, happy, love filled years. Yes, it will be unbelievably difficult when the time comes but I am sure she is eternally grateful that you didn’t give up on her and made sure that she has good memories of her time with you. Well done on everything you are doing.

    1. Sarah is so worth it. Actually, I feel very lucky that she ended up with us and not someone else. She is a special lady and she is ours 🙂

    1. Sarah loves hugs… so thank you! Much better today, though still a little tired. Actually, she is bouncing back from this one faster than last time. She just bolted out the back door with the rest of the pack a few minutes ago. Just need to convince her to take it easy for a while.

  3. Oh dear, this really got the water works flowing. I think what you all are doing is admirable and I’ve been through it myself, so I know just how tough it is. You make them happy and comfortable as long as you can, and then you say your goodbyes. To keep them longer is selfish. I’ll be praying for you and for Sarah.

    1. No need for waterworks! Sare Bear is feeling much better now. Our Otis was diagnosed with cancer when he was 9. Given his age, and the average pitbull lifespan of 11, we chose not to treat it since treatment was pretty harsh. He stayed with us 4 more relatively healthy (no issues with the cancer effecting him) years! I came home from work one day and he could no longer stand. We said goodbye right then. We hope Sarah continues to exceed expectations and hope we can time it as perfect as Otis so that she never knows what decline is.

  4. If Sarah could speak, she would thank you. Old dogs, and dogs with medical needs, have many gifts to share with us. But when the time comes that their quality of life is gone, the hardest and best gift we can give in return is to help them say goodbye. Best to you and Sarah. I will be hoping that she defies all predictions and stays happy and as healthy as possible for a long time to come.

    1. It is Sarah that should have our thanks! I am trying to get a video together of her smiles and goofy running. She is a hysterical angel and we are lucky to have her in the family!

  5. Hi, since Sarah has a few episodes a year, why not get a script now and fill it for the next episode. When that episode starts use what you have on hand and get a script to fill and have on hand for the next episode/

  6. LIke I believe that the speed limit is the law and not just a suggestion, so too do I watch expiration dates on medications. In Sarah’s case, since we don’t know when they will occur, and all of our K9 scripts are at a chain with a 24 hour pharmacy within 15 minutes of the house, and because, kid you not, there were 2 refills on the script, if ever we came home to find Sarah in distress, we were looking at most 45 minutes between detection and getting the first pill down her throat. What I didn’t want to have happen was to store it, have it expire, get lost, get destroyed (remember: this home contains 6 special needs dogs, 2 special needs horses, 6 other dogs that are quite demanding, a crabby man and an exhausted mom – I accidentally took 3 Fluconozole when I brought Ibuprophen in the kitchen for myself one morning!). A greater fear is to have stored the last refil and somehow lose it, on Christmas eve – falling on a Thursday – which means no vet for 5 days!

    Incidentally, the vet called in a new script yesterday, and I picked it up today. The pharmasist that I made a scene with on Friday showed me what went wrong with the original script: Whoever entered it into the computer put an ‘e’ in our last name, and neglected to note that Sarah was a K9. So, the number on the pill bottle was correct, but it didn’t occur to anyone that if phonetically the last name was the same, that perhaps just maybe there might have been a mis-spelling. Why they didn’t compare the phone numbers, I have no answer.

    CLEARLY the confusion was understandable: ANYONE could have believed that there were 2 Sarah’s in the same zip code, 1 human, 1 canine,, with phonetically identical last names, but said last names differ by 1 letter… To have expected anyone to have made the jump to believe they were 1 in the same was above and beyond reasonable.

  7. I hate it when my dogs are sick, which, thankfully is not often. Chienna is scared by noises so you can imagine what thunder does to her and it’s not the first time I have sat up with her half the night and tried to keep her calm. I can’t begin to imagine what you are going through – it would be silly of me to pretend otherwise – but I will keep you close in my thoughts. When she is able, give her an extra hug from us.

    1. Sarah will take hugs anytime, even when she is feeling bad, so thank you!

      Don’t think of it as we are going through anything. No matter what Sarah is a treasure. As long as we can keep her happy, all is good, even when we have bad patches, which, blessedly are still far apart.

    1. A poor-er dog would have been put down 2 years ago. Sare Bear has had 2 years and 3 months of a good, loved and fun life. Yes there have been bad days and weeks, but as long as they are far and few in between, she will be cherished.

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