The Loss Of A Friend  

Posted by: Savari in , ,

A couple of weeks ago, for Wordless Wednesday, I posted a picture of my Great Dane, Missy. She went over the Rainbow Bridge a year ago, today. Talking about this a year later isn't any easier than it was a day after she passed. In my humble opinion, for any true animal lover and pet owner, losing a beloved pet is very much like losing a family member. The pain never quite goes away. So in memory of Missy here is her story.

I worked as a vet tech and a volunteer for a local animal rescue when I first met Missy's owner. The rescue I worked with went to the local PetSmart every weekend to do adoptions. This guy was there every weekend with the most beautiful male Harlequin Great Dane. After a couple of months, he came up to me one morning as we were setting up and asked if we had any room for a female Great Dane. Being in a rush to get everything in order, I told him I would find out for him and went on about my business. After everything calmed down a bit, later in the day, I got to thinking about his request. I knew the shelter would gladly take her in, but I had always wanted a Dane. So I thought about it all that next week and when Friday came around and he showed up, I told him that I would take her. I asked that he bring her up the next day for me to see her. He showed up the next morning and came and got me. As I rounded the corner of the building, I stopped dead in my tracks. In the back of this man's truck was the skinniest dog I had ever seen in my life. As I got closer, I noticed she was missing large amounts of fur from her feet to her shoulders. Being in the business I was in, I immediately started asking questions. How old is she? How long have YOU had her? But the top most question in my mind was "How in the HELL could anyone let any animal get in the shape Missy was in?" I soon got all my answers. It turned out the guy was a breeder who had purchased Missy from another breeder basically site unseen. He had only seen pictures of the dog he was supposedly buying and had his daughter pick her up. Once he actually received Missy he realized his mistake. The "breeder" was a backyard breeder, according to his daughter. She said that when she got there, there were dogs everywhere and several were tied to their dog houses. Missy being one of those. Her tail was broken near the end from when she wagged it, it would hit her house. I don't know how many of you have ever been thwacked by a Great Dane's tail, but it has some serious force behind it and most have "happy tail syndrome", as in they wag their tails ALL the time at an alarming rate of speed. So, now every time her tail would wag it would crack and bleed and her skin was horrible.

He couldn't in good conscious return the dog to her previous owner so he kept her. Despite the fact that she was in horrible condition.  He took her to the vet and the end of her tail docked off to alleviate the pain of it basically rebreaking every time she bumped it on something and had her skin scraped. It turned out she had Demodex. Demodex is a hereditary mange that 99% of dogs carry. The mange presents itself due to a low immune system or poor living conditions and sometimes even changes in the weather. Stress can also cause demodectic mange to break. He got the medicines he needed to treat her and she started improving. Then he lost his job. The costs kept getting higher and higher to treat her skin conditions and it came down to finding her a home with someone who could afford to care for her or having her put to sleep.

Missy the day she came to live with me.

Here's where I come in. I couldn't say no. I realize that yes, I do probably have sucker tattooed across my forehead and everything he told me very well could have been a lie. But I could NOT let that dog suffer. I had a good job, my husband worked, everything would be fine. So, I took her home with me that day. Actually I took her straight to the vet office where I worked and had her weighed, her shots updated and scraped her skin again just to make sure that demodex was all she had. The poor thing weighed 117 lbs. (for a Dane of her bone structure and being 5 years old she should have been at LEAST 150), she was covered in fleas and her skin was just horrible. I got her on antibiotics, flea meds (the treatment for demodex is actually a flea med called ProMeris) and took her home and started feeding her.

Much improved.
In a month, she had gained up to 165 lbs. and her skin was excellent. She loved to ride in the back of my truck and play with the kids and my other dogs. She was the most well mannered, best behaved dog I had ever had, even though she liked to try to push me out of the bed. She loved to play and run and just thoroughly enjoyed being a dog. 2 months later, I broke my ankle and lost my job. No big deal, the hubby was still working and Missy was still making drastic improvements. Then the weather started to warm up and the skin treatments started failing. Where before she was only missing hair on her feet and legs, it was now on her feet, legs, chest, shoulders and face. And it wasn't just missing hair, it was turning into raw spots. I took her back to the vet. Skin scraping revealed nothing, no demodex, no mites at all actually. The vet decided to try her on some different antibiotics and see if that would clear it up. It worked. For awhile. Another 2 months later and her improvement was slow but steady. I kept thinking this is great, she's doing better, her skin is getting better, she's still putting on weight, awesome. 

September came and we had to move in with my parents. That is another story in and of itself. Missy was the only one of our dogs that didn't have to be fenced because she always stayed with me. She didn't run off or go near the road and she minded extremely well. For the first month we lived here, she was great, her skin had cleared up almost all the way. Then one day I noticed a small spot of hair missing on one of her front feet. It wasn't large by any means so I didn't much worry about it. Little did I know, that tiny spot would signify the end. As the week progressed, I noticed the spot growing and a few more had popped up. I started to worry then. Took her back to the vet, more antibiotics, more worrying. This time there was no improvement. It just kept getting progressively worse. The raw spots were now oozing sores. I took her to 4 different vets trying to find out exactly what was wrong with her. No one I took her to could give me any answers. They just kept pumping her full of meds, hoping for the best. By the first week of November, after all the medicines and treatments and everything else she was a shell of her former self. She would still willingly walk with me anywhere but her feet were so swollen that they would crack when she walked. I spent most of my days on the phone with different vets trying my hardest to figure out what was wrong with her. November 13th rolled around and she stopped eating, the vet said no big deal, dogs do that. November 14th came and she stopped drinking water, the vet said that is normal. November 15th arrived and she passed away. I remember knowing that she wouldn't make it through the day and that there was nothing I could do. I had no way to take her to the vet and the one vet that could make it out to the house wouldn't be able to make it until late in the afternoon. She passed away around lunch time. It turns out she had developed pneumonia due to the raging infection running through her body that no antibiotic would treat. Her immune system was so depleted from her earlier life, she never stood a chance.

Missy was my pet for less than a year, but she became my best friend from the moment I saw her. It took me months to be able to really talk about her without breaking down. She went everywhere with me, slept with me, listened to me rant and rave but loved me just the same. No judgement, no shame. I realize I've written a  novel but I felt the need to share and to just remember. Thanks for taking the time to read my diatribe and I'm sorry in advance for any typos that spell checker didn't catch. Can't read very well with blurry eyes.

Missy's favorite spot. The WHOLE couch.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 and is filed under , , . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .


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