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Lady Bug

Lady Bug, who is probably a Kelpie, came to me by a series of happenstances. She was only supposed to be here for a few days, but she stole my heart, so she is here for life.

Lady Bug, face portrait

Lady Bug's portrait taken soon after her arrival



Lady Bugs story

how she came to me

(summer of 2015)

I first learned of her via the an e-mail list for our Sacramento Valley area shelters and rescue people. She was at the Sacramento SPCA and they were seeking a rescue to take her, as she was deemed not suited for general adoption because of her health issues. There was something about her face that "spoke" to me.

Another rescue, in Oregon, had agreed to take her but they needed temporary fostering for her while they arranged transportation. I've done that to help other rescuers a few times, usually housing these short term guests in one of my two small outdoor kennel runs.

Her history from her surrendering owner stated that she had had three urinary tract infections in the past year or so and the owner couldn't afford to keep treating her. Also that she was hypothyroid. She was also quite obese. The name "Lady Bug" came from the shelter ; her surrendering owner called her just "Lady". Owner said she was a house-dog and affectionate. And she is "cute as a bug".

She arrived at the shelter with an untreated UTI and very obese. The shelter vet noted that her vulva was somewhat covered in skin folds, which might well be the reason for the frequent UTI, and which might require surgery if not improved sufficiently by weight reduction. (Update : once her weight was reduced to normal , she has not had another UTI and didn't need that surgery.)

Three days into her temporary care with me, she had blood in her urine. I took her to the UCD VMTH for a full work-up, including tests to rule out the possibility of a bladder cancer (always a worry when there have been frequent UTI episodes). But it proved to be just another UTI. But the other rescue became very annoyed that I had done this , even though I was not asking them to pay a penny towards the substantial cost. I should add, to do them justice, that at the time they had a serious problem (and big expenses) with another dog under another foster care.

After some discussion, she became my dog.

She "stole my heart" and now is serving a "life sentence" as MY dog.

our life together

Lady Bug, lying belly-up on my bed.

lying belly up on my bed. belly up is typical resting position.

"Bug Bug" fit in very well here. She does have some competition with FoxTheWicked, but Fox has the "upper paw" and only once has there been anything worse than growls and raised hackles.

She's just incredibly charming with everyone. She's what I call a "Will Rogers dog" because she "never met anyone she didn't like" , and she quickly wins them over to her.

I'm still in love with the expressiveness of her face. That's probably what "spoke to me" from her shelter photo. It's become even more expressive since then.

She's a good cuddle dog too, though her place on my bed is always subject to Fox's veto or tolerance.

her most unusual behavior

Lady Bug responds to any occurrance of any animal on TV, especially a dog. She "talks" to these images, sometimes very extensively. And she knows the opening sounds or sights of any commercial in which an animal will later apprear. This is all the more remarkable in that my TV is merely Standard Definition , which dogs are supposed to not be able to see clearly.

It's perhaps not that strange that a dog of herding ancestry would alert on the sight or sound of herdable livestock. After all that's their job. But in my many years with Bouvier , I've never seen this before. FoxTheWickedQueensland doesn't do it either.

She's also very good at catching out of the air any food tossed towards her. That's not such an unusual behavior. Fox does it too. Others of my past Bouvs have done it. But Bug is very very good at it.

her nearly fatal illness

Lady Bug, home after illness, snug in her cave
in her winter coat resting in a "cave" that I built for her.
she used the cave for her first few months of recovery, then lost interest in it.

In late Fall of 2018, one night Bug's appetite was a bit off and the next morning she was noticably low in energy. I got her into my vet, concerned by not really alarmed. We soon found out that I should have been very alarmed. Her red blood cell count was extremely low. My vet sent us right over to the UCD VMTH , phoning ahead to tell them that this was a case of Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. That's when the immune system for some unknown reason attacks and destroys red blood cells. It can come on mildly and gradually or suddenly and severely. Bug was in severe life-threatening condition. If I'd waited another day to take her to the vet, she would have been dead.

Now the VMTH treats a fair number of cases of IMHA. They give gold standard treatment. For the first week it was very unclear whether Bug would survive. She was very weak, unbalanced, unwilling to eat (probably nauseated, despite anti-nausea drugs). My daily visits to her were heart-breaking for me. I knew she was suffering, but there was still a decent hope for recovery. She wasn't improving much but she wasn't getting worse. She was getting blood transfusions to replace the destroyed red blood cells. (And this gave me more reason to be glad that my Velvet had been a blood donor for several years, some years earlier. Of course it wasn't Vel's donations that Bug got, but those donations had saved the lives of other dogs. Now other donors were keeping my little Bug alive and giving her a chance.)

What saved Bug's life was a treatment that at that time was available very few places in the world : "plasma exchange". This goes beyond "gold standard" and could be called "platinum standard" , ie something being developed at research institutes. The UCD VMTH is one of the great veterinary research institutes as well as one of the great teaching hospitals. Three treatments of plasma exchange did the trick, "turned the corner", for her. She started eating, gained strength, started looking happy again.

(By the way, plasma exchange uses the same equipment as hemodialysis, but uses it differently. Dr Larry Cowgill , who developed veterinary hemodialysis and teaches it over the internet all over the world, will probably be able to teach others how to do this, probably at symposia and over the itnernet.)

She came home on a complicated medication schedule. Four or five different meds, some with food and some without, some once a day and some twice. I had a chart on the fridge to keep me on track and made use of pill organizer boxes (these are of huge value !). She went back to the VMTH at two week intervals to check her blood cell counts (CBC) and be examined. Gradually and very cautiously her medications changed, some being dropped and some reduced in dose. Now after a year of treatment she has only one medication left , and that one may start getting reduced next month. We just started extending her re-checks from every 2 weeks to every 4 weeks. We are being very cautious about avoiding a relapse. (She may or may not still be at risk for a relapse.)

She's a very happy and healthy dog. And everyone at the VMTH who has met her is completely under her spell. Her principal treating vet there has signed up to adopt her if I should predecease her (a wise precaution for all dog owners, however young and healthy and indestructable they may be, and I no longer fit that category).

I'm hoping we both still have some good years left together.

her songs

I don't really have a full song for her, just some little bits of lyrics.

To the tune of "Matilda" (the Harry Belafonte version) :

My Kelpie, my Kelpie, my Kelpie
She take me money and she spend it at de Vet School.

My Kelpie she nearly died
I no can tell you how hard I cried
It's almost miracle that she survived

My Kelpie, my Kelpie, my Kelpie
She take me money and she spend it at de Vet School.

To the tune of "Waltzing Matilda" :

Walking my Kelpie, walking my Kelpie
You'll come a-walking my Kelpie with me.
And I sing as we walk in the shade of the orchard trees :
You'll come a-walking my Kelpie with me.

Update 2/17/2020

Lady Bug's IMHA medications were reduced one small step at a time, with re-checks on her CBC (complete blood cell count) every two weeks. It took over a year to get her meds down to none (nothing for IMHA, but she will always be taking her thyroid supplement). She's been off meds now for almost a month, and she's in super good health and very very happy. (She will still get CBC checks at monthly intervals, and I am very alert for any signs of lower energy or not feeling well in any way.)

Everyone at the VMTH has been charmed by her, and her primary treating vet, Dr Maggie Buller, wants to adopt her if I should pre-decease Bug. Bug greets Dr B with an extravagant display of excited affection. I guess she knows which side her dog biscuits are peanut-buttered on.

update 12/03/2020

When nights got cold, a few weeks ago, she started spending part of the nights in her "cave". Other parts of night on my bed.

Her health still seems excellent. Dr Buller re-checks her a couple times a year.

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site author Pam Green copyright 2003
created 3/02/2019 revised 2/17/2020
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