Originally I was going to write this week’s column on remembering our veterans, but I will hold that thought for a week to discuss something a little more personal to me, my love affair with my pets. I know I have written about them before, but this time things are different, I promise.
My dogs and our one cat are like children to me. They take up a lot of time with all of the petting, feeding, walking and even cleaning up required of a pet owner, but they all bring me joy in their own little ways.
The cat, like most cats, is aloof and cool and always lets me know when it is time for some attention, sometimes flopping down on my keyboard while I am working at home. We have an older dog that is super fun, she runs, jumps and chases the other’s around, but when they get out of hand, she turns into their Mama, letting them know right from wrong and what is acceptable. The Chihuahua is the queen bee, her attitude of being better than all of all totally cracks me up. She hates it when she falls down or slips on the hardwood and realizes we have seen her be less than perfect, hanging her head and slinking away to lick her self-imposed exile until enough time has passed that she believes we have forgotten all about what she perceives to be less than perfect behavior. The baby of the group, a Pekingese and the only boy, is rough and tumble but quick to drop to the floor for a belly rub when anyone is within a 10 foot vicinity of him.
Then there was Sandy. A Min Pin Schnauzer mix, she was always loving and kind. This spunky girl was patient, always waiting her turn at dinner time, and super sensitive to our moods, oftentimes laying her head in my lap in an attempt to comfort me after a bad day.
Sandy passed away last week, after fighting a disease known as Evans Syndrome for only five days. It’s an insidious illness that manifests quickly, many times without any particular cause. Her body attacked its own red blood cells and platelets, creating the inability to for the blood to clot. In the days following her diagnosis we spent thousands trying to save her, but ultimately an internal bleed caused her untimely demise and she died in my arms, comfortable and feeling loved thanks to the efforts of my husband, myself and our veterinarian. Only a few short days later as I write this, a tear comes to my eye as I think about the loss my family and I have suffered.
So why am I writing about this particular incident which is near and dear to my heart this week? Because Evans Syndrome, while not a common disease, is something that all pet owners should be aware of. Caught early enough, many dogs recover from the illness, about two-thirds of them, according to our vet.
The signs and symptoms of this auto immune disorder are sometimes hard to spot but can include lethargy, loss of appetite, bruises on the skin, small red spots on the white parts of the eyes, nose bleeds, bloody urine, bloody stools, pale gums, vomiting and with more advanced cases, such as Sandy’s, swelling in the abdominal area.
I would encourage all pet owners, to take their dogs or cats – yes cats can get it too – to the veterinarian of their choice if their animals exhibit any of the above listed symptoms. What appears to be just a tummy ache, which is what we thought Sandy had, can sometimes be something much worse and only your veterinarian can determine the severity of the problem.
As far as my beloved little blonde dog, Sandy, she has crossed the rainbow bridge, but I can only hope that her story would save other pets from the same fate. Remember, animals can’t tell us what is wrong; it is up to us to ensure they are taken care of when they aren’t feeling right. We depend on our pets for unconditional love and companionship; they depend on us to stay alive.