Obituaries for Murphy and Leo
(and , alas, also for Annie)
Two Bouvies who I had taken in as foster dogs were euthanized on the same day. Murphy had stayed with me for the remainder of his life. Leo was adopted out to a family who cherished him.
And Annie, who came in with Murphy her packmate, survived him by only 6 weeks.
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This is not easy to write. Two Bouvs who were originally foster dogs of mine passed away (euthanzed) on the same day, Sept 2, 2019
In a way it was harder for me to hear about Leo than to accept that Murphy had run out of luck. Murphy would have been 12 in a couple more months, but Leo was just 5 or so, thus should have had many more years. Or maybe it's because I know I was able to provide Murphy with the very best possible vet care, but I wasn't in charge of Leo's care. I know he got the best his adopter could find under the circumstances.
Leo was about a year old when he was surrendered in spring of 2016. His owner had become incompetent. Leo had a badly healed fracture in the growth plate of the upper end of his femur that was causing chronic pain. The owner had never noticed this. I was told this injury had occurred when the dog fell down a flight of stairs. Leo also had a swallowing disorder that made it very hard for him to eat. Again, this had never been noticed, never diagnosed, never treated.
But I live close to the best Vet School (UC Davis)and teaching hospital on this planet. So we got his issues straightened out. The leg received surgery and physical rehabilitation. His swallowing disorder was diagnosed by Dr Stanley Marks, using contrast fluroscopy. He was able to eat comfortably if one held his food bowl up high enough that his throat and neck were pretty much vertical, ie putting gravity on his side. That's a very simple low tech treatment.
He was a lively active dog. I joked that LEO stands for Low Earth Orbit.
He was adopted by a wonderful adopter, Janice Fairley-Winn, who was very happy to give him that bit of extra care that he needed. He quickly became a cherished member of her family. A wonderful life.
However a sudden onset of the dreaded Bloat (gastric dilation and torsion) cut short his life. Janice quickly recognized the symptoms because she had read an article on Bloat quite recently.She got him to the vet right away. The attending vet thought that his swallowing disorder may have played a role in causation, and also thought that it made him a poor surgical candidate.
Murphy and his niece Annie were orphaned when their owner died in 2015. Both were drastically overweight but otherwise healthy (amazingly). Both were generally well behaved, but the fact that they were seniors and were a bonded pair made it difficult to find an adopter for them. So they stayed with me
I should properly credit the valuable help of Liz Schuler who took the pair, Annie and Murphy for the first week or so when I was tied up with a medical problem of my own. And some unnamed volunteer from the shelter drove the dogs to Liz's home. Murphy's breeder Lee Calhoun reimbursed Liz for substantial initial vet costs. Lee kept asking me if I needed any money from her for the vet care of these two. She couldn't take them to her own home because one of her males wouldn't have allowed it.
Murphy and Annie went on a weight reduction program and gradual exercise program. They both improved in figure and health.
Murphy stayed in good health until this last year, when he had a few problems, including a very serious episode of pneumonia. He also began to show the lessened muscle mass in his outer thighs that is common in old dogs, and also lessened muscle mass over his shoulder blade.
A few months ago Murphy was diagnosed with Cutaneous Lymphoma, a type of cancer that has a poor long term prognosis. But treatment at the UCD Vet School did maintain his quality of life. Unfortunately the drugs involved ultimately had side effects that ultimately harmed his quality of life. He was doing well right up until his last few days, then he became very weak and unable to eat enough, and loss of muscle over his shoulder and hips had gotten to the point where pressure sores were going to be unavoidable. His quality of life was poor in many respects. A final trip to the Vet School with many diagnostics confirmed that we were not going to be able to restore him to an enjoyable life.
That final turning point , decision time for Murph :
Let him struggle futilely or help him leave this earth.
Do my best on this test, hold back tears and sighs.
Many questions, necropsy's lessons learned in time.
Decison's never easy, but I know the choice was right :
An end to suffering, a peaceful end of life.
I've too few photographs, but memories in my mind,
Remembering him just as he was in good health and good times.
Although he could be difficult, he also made me smile.
For what it's worth, he was worth it all the while.
Whatever my uncertainties, I know the choice was right:
I'd given him four extra years of life.
Annie, two years younger than Murphy, is still doing very well. (written a month after Murphy's death)
She became "Annie Odin" when in April she lost an eye to glaucoma, but she's doing well on eye medications that should post-pone glaucoma in her surviving eye. (probably for another 2 years or more).
Although she had lived with Murphy for all her life since leaving her natal home, Annie has adjusted easily to his absence. She still has some good years left.
10/24/19 was the date set for Annie's opthamology re-check. All her eye pressure checks which we'd been doing every 3 to 5 weeks had been fine. So now would be a full exam. And a full eye exam at the VMTH is a very thorugh procedure. (bring plenty to read : I was going to bring the big RGB biography.)
But when I went out to the porch in the morning (she likes to sleep on the porch rather than indoors) to give her her morning eye med, she was lying in the yard DEAD. cold , stiff, DEAD. with a huge balloon belly. There is no way to describe the horror I felt. She'd been just fine the night before at her dinner time. But now she is dead, and probably from Bloat (GDV = gastric dilation and volvus).
I called a very dear friend from the vet school to see if he could come help me move her body to my car or his, so she could go to the school for necropsy. There were other people I could have called for the physical part of the task, but I desperately needed the moral support.
The sadness is extreme. GDV has a recovery rate of 2 out of 3 with prompt skillful surgery. But I didn't have a clue she was going to bloat. I could have gotten her to the VMTH within half an hour, and there is probably no better place on the planet to save a GDV dog. This is said to be a painful way to go.
She deserved better. She should have had a few more good years.
Annie on her favorite resting place on the porch..
about 3 weeks after removal of her left eye
(note : I blurred the background in Photoshop).
I don't have any lyrics for her. But right now, there is Edna St Vincent Millay's line "sorrow like a ceaseless rain beats upon my heart".return to top of page
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