Friday, August 20, 2010

Neal, 1996-2010

Neal came to live with us when he was six years old. He was a rescue Scottie who needed a home and we needed another dog to share the yard with Bailey. Bailey was a black Scottie and Neal was a wheaten or white Scottie. Together they made quite the pair.

We were told Neal had a condition known as Scottie Cramp, but it soon became obvious that this condition Neal displayed was not episodic but a chronic neurological disorder. It happened that there was a newly discovered (but very old) disorder in Scotties called cerebellar abiotrophy or CA for short. I took Neal to a vet who was a Scottie breeder and she, along with researchers at Tufts who reviewed her findings and studied videos of Neal, diagnosed him with this insidious brain disorder. It causes a particular cell in the cerebellum to die off and that cell controls voluntary muscles, so we knew that eventually Neal would lose his ability to walk. Neal was enrolled in a research study for this disorder at North Carolina State University. This disorder affects people as well and the data gathered from the dogs in the study is being used to develop a blood test for genetic testing in humans.

Throughout his life with us, Neal rolled with the punches. He never complained about his lot in life and our vet said it is likely he didn't know anything was wrong with him. His condition caused no pain but he spent a lot of time rolling and tumbling. He and Bailey lived in harmony; Neal always looking to Bailey for what to do and how to do it. Bailey tolerated clumsy Neal and we know he was glad for the company.

A year and a half ago Bailey developed congestive heart failure and though we treated it aggressively, he died within two months. Neal was devastated and we thought we might lose Neal as well. He had anxiety attacks and looked everywhere for his friend. It was heartbreaking. Eventually Neal came to accept that he was alone with us, but it seems the spark had gone from his eye and he became a sporadic eater. He developed a number of physical ailments that we treated. He was a seizure dog and had to be on phenobarbitol and potassium bromide for several years. Even though his seizures ceased and we were able to take him off these medications, they had damaged his liver and kidneys and we knew eventually he would suffer.

This week has been particularly bad for him for some reason. Something happened the other night and I think he may have had a stroke. He exhibited odd behavior and from that point on refused to eat. I tried to interest him in several different foods and tried to hand feed him, but nothing worked. He started drinking large quantities of water. He was having difficult even sitting up. He would be in a seated position and fall over. The mobility problems he normally had were compounded and there were times he would stare vacantly around.

I decided to take him to the vet this morning because it is Friday and I couldn't bear the thought of his not eating all weekend and literally starving to death. He has already lost five pounds since April and he had no fat or muscle mass in his back and hindquarters. We had his past two blood profiles to compare and the vet did another blood draw. We waited for the results. They were not good. His liver numbers were off the chart, as they have been for several months. But the kidneys were way up and the two things together do not make for a comfortable life. She said he was likely nauseous from the liver problems and not eating because he didn't feel good. She said he was dehydrated somewhat and might benefit from hospitalization with IV fluids. I cannot do that to Neal. He would not have wanted that. She volunteered to give us some other foods to try, but she said we would just be giving ourselves a few days to say goodbye. We decided to end his suffering right then.

I hope we made the right decision. I pray that he is with Bailey and running and chasing butterflies--his all-time favorite activity. When we get his ashes back, we will take them to their vet in New Castle and have his ashes scattered where Bailey's were scattered so they will forever be together.

12 comments:

Lightning Rose said...

I'm truly sorry for your loss. I know well how they work their way into our hearts.

Lori,
Friend of Jocelyn

wolfden said...

I'm so sorry about Neal.

Mary said...

I'm crying for you. I'm so sorry. I've been watching your dogs through Jos for years. *sniff*

What good dogs.

Alicia said...

I have tears in my eyes. So sorry to hear about Neil, I know what you are going through, our thoughts and prayers are with both of you.

Dale said...

I am touched by the comments from Jossie's friends. Thank you so much for your words. I looked back at earlier pictures of him and realize now just how much he had deteriorated. He hid his pain well.

Anonymous said...

We are so sorry for your loss of Neal. We saw what a great life you and Terry gave him. I can imagine him frolicking with his many doggie friends at the Rainbow Bridge. Susan (Happy Trails)

Cyndi said...

So sorry for your loss - what an elegant story you've told.

Ward said...

It is rare for me to shed a tear because of the passing of another's pet, but the loss of Neal is different. He was a gutsy little lover and will be missed by all who knew him. Our hearts go out to you and Terry.
Ward and Pat

Anonymous said...

I know how hard it is to put down a loved pet that is like a "special child"to you. I am sure Neil, Bailey, Stacy(our cat) & Jerry are all "chasing butterflies" together.

S. said...

I know how hard it is to put down a "member of the family". I ams ure he is chasing butterflies w/ Bailey, Jerry & Stacey (our cat).

Kellie Malcolm said...

I'm glad I got to see him before he passed. What a sweet sweet boy he was. You did the right thing for Neal.

Love you guys

Anonymous said...

I just checked your blog and was so saddened to read about Neal. I know how pets become one of the family, so losing one is like losing a family member. So sad. Our deepest sympathies....

Janice & Dean