Halo, My Golden Shadow

Searching for Mirrors

I was looking through a Facebook group looking for mirrors, table top ones for craft shows, and I came across the photo above. It stated that the owner couldn’t keep her any more and was looking for a free home.

😡 People should know better than to offer up their dogs (or pets) for free to strangers. I messaged the gal and gave her my references and let her know I used to work at a veterinary hospital and gave her this as a reference too. I don’t know if she called my references or not, but she did call me to let me know I could come and get “Zoey.”

Drive to Hayward

My friend, C (who’s also a veterinarian,) came with me to pick Zoey up. The drive was very long and oh my gawd, I had to drive across a bridge! This is one long a55 bridge, and I have a serious fear of bridges. 😬

We finally made it to Hayward and met the woman and her daughter at a park. Zoey wanted nothing to do with us. The lady told us Zoey’s heart wrenching story.

Her original owner had died, and then she went to live with the lady’s sister who had two boys. These boys tortured Zoey. They would pick her up and drop her, lock her in a drawer or closet, and who knows what else may have happened.

So, the lady was Zoey’s third home in less than two months… and my house became her fourth home.

Zoey was very attached to the lady’s daughter. I had bought a big crate which C and I had to put on the ground and lure Zoey in, but she wasn’t having any of that.

So, we had to gently drag her into the crate and leave her leash on because she was a land shark.

This is actually an image of her in mid-bark, but you get the idea of what she looked like with us.

Home in SC Mountains

I had set Zoey up in a smaller crate within a pen with pee pads, water, and food in my living room. It took a lot of coaxing and a few days later, I was finally able to remove the leash from her collar. Removing her collar took about 1 1/2 weeks.

Zoey to Halo

I didn’t really like the name Zoey. Too many people name their pets this, and I didn’t think it really suited her. Plus, if she has any bad memories associated with that name, I wanted to quell those right away.

Since this little blonde dog followed me everywhere, I thought of her as my golden shadow, and then was thinking of a name that summed that up. Halo stuck.

The Facebook ad had said she was spayed, but she wasn’t. So, I brought her and my cat, Felipe in to be spayed and neutered, respectively. Spayed usually refers to ovarian-hysterectomy, but she ended up only having a hysterectomy.

The photo above is after she had her surgery and was licking at her incision. Tsk tsk.

Miscellaneous Photos

Here’s Halo sitting in a chair beside me. For a long time, she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She had severe separation anxiety.

When I first picked her up from Hayward, she came with her bed, brush, food, and shampoo, but not a toy.

This little duck is the first toy that she received from me, and she immediately started chewing on it and playing with it.

Here she is in her parka. It gets super cold in the mountains.

You cannot really tell, but she has an underbite.

Living in Pumpkin Center

After the fire consumed our home, we moved to Pumpkin Center, a small town outside of Bakersfield. She, my dogs Lance and Gwenyth, and my three cats: Blur, No Mar, and Abygayle were my companions.

Here’s sweet Halo resting on my bed. She is sleeping on her pillow.

Halo in her bunny 🐰 coat that I picked up at Ross.

IMHA

IMHA is abbreviated for Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia, which is also known as AIHA or Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia.

IMHA is a disorder where the body doesn’t recognize its own red blood cells and starts destroying them. Without red blood cells, the dog becomes listless and can die.

When Halo first started vomiting, I gave her an antiemetic, famotidine, also known as Pepcid. I didn’t take her into the hospital right away because she has been known to eat strange things in the yard and then get a tummy ache from it.

But her urine was bright yellow, and her gums were pale. I brought her into the emergency clinic, and the doctor said she had a heart murmur and also did some radiographs on her. Her intestines were full of gas. But the doctor also thought it’d be best to run a PCV (packed cell volume) on her to check her red blood cell percentage because her gums were so pale.

Her PCV was 20%. 😮 It should be about 45%! Then he ran a full blood panel on her – liver enzymes were high, and although her red blood cells were low, her reticulocyte count was high, which means she didn’t have non-regenerative anemia. Her body was making red blood cells as fast as her body was destroying them.

Prognosis and Treatment

Her prognosis was very guarded, and the doctor suggested hospitalizing her and starting a blood transfusion. 😮

From working in the veterinary field for over 20 years as an ICU/emergency vet tech (animal nurse) and running many cross matches, I knew that you cannot check to see if the blood donated would be a good match for the recipient.

Why? Because to run a cross match, you need to check to make sure the donor blood doesn’t agglutinate with the recipient blood. If the blood does agglutinate, then the animal will have a reaction to the blood. Plus, it’s not always recommended to give a dog with IMHA a blood transfusion because the body will go into hyperactive mode trying to destroy all of the red blood cells.

So, instead, I opted to take her home and start her on the prednisone, a corticosteroid. The doctor also gave her an injection of dexamethasone.

On the next recheck, her red count was up. I did a lot of research on her condition and asked the doctor if we could start her on an antibiotic and liver support medication.

He said that we could start her on this, but he didn’t think this would help at all because usually AIHA caused by infection is from ticks, and there aren’t a lot of ticks in this area. However, where we used to live, ticks are very prevalent.

Halo is Recovering

She chose the smallest blanket in the house to cuddle up on.

Last Recheck

Halo’s PCV went up to 56%, and she’s off of her prednisone! 😮🙂 But because her ALT (liver enzyme) is still high, she went back on her Denamarin (a liver support medicine.)

It’s now 2020, and Halo has not been on any medications for her IMHA and has not had another relapse. (Knock on wood.)

Last Chance Lance

Lance was a Shiba Inu X that I got from a colleague of mine.

Less Than 24 Hours To Live

She had told me his heartbreaking story… he was dumped off near her sister’s house, who took him to the San Jose Animal Shelter. The shelter did a “behavioral test” on him and decided that he should be euthanized. Why? Because Lance failed their “pinch test.” This is where they grab his sides and see if the dog bites them. Well Lance didn’t bite them, but he did get mouthy with them.

When my colleague heard he had less than 24 hours to live, she got him out of the shelter, and asked me if I wanted him. (I had wanted a Chihuahua, but I took Lance in and named him, ‘Last Chance Lance.’

He was hesitant at first, but he was just dumped by his owner(s), and being at that shelter didn’t help either.

He was neutered at the animal hospital I used to work at – a state of the art veterinary hospital, open 24/7, every day of the year.

Coming Home

Lance took to my dog, Toby, more so than my dog, Gwenyth. He didn’t mind the cats either!

He was a great dog! (He passed last night hence I’m writing about him in the past tense.) 😭

Periodontal Disease

Lance has severe periodontal disease. The first veterinarian I took him to (to save $$$) said he didn’t need his teeth cleaned. 😮 What?! He had built up tartar on his teeth and he was missing some teeth too… and knowing his previous history, those roots may still be retained in his gums. The veterinarian said she may have heard a heart murmur too. Hmm 🤔 he either has one, or he doesn’t. She also said this about Gwenyth, whom I knew had a heart murmur.

So, I scheduled Lance to see the state of the art vet, Adobe. Sure enough, he had stage III periodontal disease. Another colleague of mine cleaned his teeth and did multiple extractions. And many of his teeth were retained in his gums. He had a heart murmur that would get worse.

Heart Murmur

A heart murmur is a swooshing sound heard between the beating of the heart. It is caused by turbulent blood flow within the heart. Some murmurs are harmless, and some are indicative of something wrong with the heart.

When a veterinarian auscults the heart and hears a murmur, they’ll want to do diagnostic tests to rule out any potential heart problems. Usually this is done by radiographing the heart and checking the size of it. In Lance’s case, his heart did appear to be enlarged.

The next diagnostic test is a cardiac ultrasound. The veterinarian will look at your pet’s heart, take measurements and also look at the blood flow.

Mitral Valve Regurgitation

The mitral valve is a valve on the left side of the heart between the left atrium and ventricle that keeps the blood from flowing backwards.

How the Heart Works

Blood that isn’t oxygenated returns back to the heart (from the body) and enters the right atrium, then the right ventricle. From there, it is pumped into the lungs to become oxygenated, and then flows into the left atrium and ventricle, respectively. Then the oxygen rich blood is pumped throughout the body via the aorta and arteries.

Mitral Valve Regurgitation is caused when the mitral valve wears out. And this is when a heart murmur is heard.

It can be secondary to periodontal disease… this is what happened to Lance. 🙁 His teeth were so bad. But after he was diagnosed with this heart condition, it wasn’t advised for him to have any more dentals. Why? Because he could die under anesthesia.

Here’s Lance with his flying squirrel, but his favorite toy is Lamb Chop. He adored that toy so much that I bought quite a few of them.

Here’s his collections toys before the fire consumed them. Most of his toys are missing limbs.

Lance wearing some too large for him Doggles. 😂

Lance yawning.

Lance eating his Frosty Paws ice cream treat.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

When a dog has heart problems or an arrhythmia, he can suddenly die. And this is what happened with Lance.

Before I had left to go pick my boyfriend up from work, I had given Lance some milkbone cookies. He was acting normal. I would have never thought that he’d be dead when I arrived back home. 🙁😮😭

Symptoms

Lance not only had a murmur that continued to increase (started with stage I and ended up being a stage VI in only a few years,) but he also coughed a lot. This was from fluid in his lungs.

He was on medications for his heart: pimobendan, enalapril, and furosemide. The pimobendan was by far the most expensive of his meds.

Here’s Lance with his Hartz orange squeaky bone that he loved to chase.

My sweet boy, I love you and miss you! I have your lamb chop that now sleeps in bed with me because you’re not there. You were a great dog, and I’m so glad I was able to spoil you.

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