Saturday, June 14, 2014
Two months ago, Dixie seemed to be feeling under the weather. She wasn't eating well, and seemed to have less energy. I took her to my vet and she was diagnosed with anaplasmosis. (a tick borne illness) She tested a "faint positive" right at the end of the testing window. The vet prescribed antibiotics and said that Dixie should feel better in a few days.
A few days later, she wasn't doing any better. I brought her back to the vet and they did an X-ray to "rule out" anything more significant. The vet saw a shadow on her X-ray and sent it to the University of Minnesota vet hospital to have it read by a radiologist. The report from the radiologist said that there wasn't anything unusual, but that more imaging may be needed.
I took Dixie to see an internal medicine vet at the U of M. He did blood and urine tests, and everything came back in perfect form. He said that with the symptoms, we should do more imaging to rule out a tumor. I agreed to have them do a CT scan on Dixie. After scheduling that, Dixie seemed to perk up. Her appetite increased a little, and she had more energy. I contemplated canceling the imaging, but decided to do it "just in case."
I was told that I could drop Dixie off at the U in the morning. I declined. I said that I would bring her and stay with her until the imaging was done. She and I waited patiently that morning, arriving at 8am but not having the actual imaging appointment until 10:30am. The student vet came to get Dixie when it was her time. She commented what a great dog Dixie was.
I sat and waited. I wasn't really worried because I believed that they wouldn't find anything. The vet came to the cubicle I was sitting in looking very uncomfortable. He told me that Dixie had a mass on her liver. He went on to say that the cancer was "everywhere." In shock I asked what that meant. He said the she had weeks to live. I broke down and cried. They brought Dixie to me, and she was groggy from the anesthesia for the CT scan. I put her on the chair I was sitting in and held her. The vet came back some time later and said that he was able to get Dixie an appointment with the oncology department the next week. In the meantime, he prescribed an anti-inflammatory med, and a med to increase her appetite.
I took her home and passed on the information to my family and close friends. I cried for a long time.
The next week Dixie saw the oncologist at the U. We were taken back to a room by a student vet. She asked about Dixie's job. She, too, had diabetes. She said that she had never heard of a dog being able to alert for blood sugars. She asked for the name of the organization where I got Dixie. The oncologist came in and reviewed her imaging and lab work. Dixie had gained back a little weight. She offered several options. The most reasonable, in her opinion, was to try an oral chemotherapy med. She thought that if Dixie responded to it, she would have months instead of weeks. The mass on her liver was 9cm by 9cm. She had mets to her lungs, lymph nodes, and spleen. The most common side effect of the chemo was fatigue. We decided to try it.
Dixie took the chemo med for about 1 week. It made her so sick and miserable that I decided that months of living that way wasn't worth it. We stopped the med.
For the next two weeks, Dixie continued coming to school with me. We did some 1/2 days when it seemed that she was uncomfortable. I tried everything to increase her food intake. I asked people at school to bring their dog's favorite treats to share with Dixie. She just couldn't eat. She continued to get thinner and thinner. We spent a lot of time snuggling. I took a lot of pictures. I asked her how I'd ever be able to do this without her.
On May 23rd, 2014 at 1:35pm in the veterinary's office, Dixie took her last breath in my arms. I held her, kissed her, and thanked her for all her hard work. I reminded her how many people loved her. I set her free to fly with the angels.
Thank you, Dixie, for being my service dog. And bless you, Dixie, for being my friend.
I will always love you.