Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook know the horrid week we have had. For those of you who aren’t on FB, this week was bad and ended yesterday in the passing of our 4 year old lab, Cody. At the end of this post, I will include all the details as to what transpired but first I want to share what a wonderful dog he was.
Cody truly was the best dog. I know people say that when a pet passes but he really was.
He rarely barked. He was so quiet, even in the car. He loved to go for rides and would just sit quietly or lay down and enjoy the ride. When he did bark, he sounded pretty tough. It was a deep, scary bark but anyone that knew him knew that he was actually a big marshmallow that wouldn’t hurt a fly. We didn’t let strangers know that though.
He was obedient and a quick learner. Kayla loved teaching him new tricks. She worked really good with him and he could do all sorts of things - shake, roll over, go through (her legs), stay, down, spin, and she was working on jumping through the hoola hoop. I don’t think that was his favorite but he would do anything for a treat.
He was spiritual. He prayed with the kids. (I have a picture but can’t find it right now). Every night when we kneeled by each kid’s bed and said prayers with them, Cody joined right in by putting his front legs on the bed but leaving the bottom ones on the ground. It was his way of kneeling next to the kids. For family prayers he would come lay by us as we said the prayer and as soon as “Amen” was said, he would jump right up. He was a very reverent dog.
He was a water boy. You couldn’t keep that guy out of water if he saw it. He loved him some water! Which is, unfortunately, probably what killed him.
He was smart. He knew our routine and would do his part in it without being asked. Every morning when we would get ready for school he was out and about with us in the kitchen but when it got close to time to leave, he would disappear. He would go get in his crate without anyone telling him to. He loved his crate and had no problems going in it. Going to church was the same. He got so crafty at it that he would go get in his crate and we would often forget to shut the door and he would have free roam of the house while we were gone. Although we always thought he stayed in his crate until we returned.
He loved to be part of what we were doing. He thought he was one of the kids, always in the middle of what was going on. He loved to go on walks with me. He was my training buddy there for awhile. He was always in the middle of what we were doing. Even when building cardboard boats, he wanted in on the action.
He was a great snuggler. For being 86 pounds he could snuggle in a way that didn’t feel like 86 pounds. He slept on our bed, on my side at the foot BUT every night when I get up with T, he would be between Kurt and I, on his back with his legs sprawled everywhere but by the morning, we would wake up, and he would be back at the foot of the bed. I always knew what he was getting away with while we were sleeping.
He was fun to play with. Kurt and Cody would wrestle like nobodies business. The two would go at it and everyone enjoyed watching them. Cody knew where the lines were and didn’t cross them in being too aggressive with Kurt. He was just the right level of aggressive fun for Kurt. But he also knew the difference between playing with Kurt and playing with the kids. When the kids (or sometime even me) would wrestle him, he would be so soft and gentle. He let T crawl all over him and he never made a fuss about it or got mad.
He had a funny way of laying down. He always sprawled his hips out. Sometimes he would tuck his front legs under his body and he looked like a seal. It was always something people commented on.
He was a great helper. Every morning I would say, “Come on Cody. We need to go wake up the girls.” We would go into their room and I would go to Hailey and Cody would jump on Kayla’s bed and snuggle in to wake her up. Usually he ended up cuddling in with her and not waking her up. I would give him a funny, hard time and Kayla would say he was doing a perfect job and snuggle up even more to him. She really struggling with getting up right now. Every morning the first thing she knows is that Cody isn’t there.
He loved to go camping. We usually pull the trailer home 3 days before we leave so that we can charge the batteries and clean it, if needed. As soon as he knew it was out front, he followed me around and not let me out of sight. He didn’t want to get left behind.
He just was an amazing dog. We loved him so much and will truly, truly miss him. We love you Cody!
So here is what happened. I am actually writing this more for me because I think I need to get it out. When things like this happen, you are in shock and so much information gets thrown at you so fast and you have to make quick decisions and all this is still bouncing around in my head. I am hoping that by getting it out, I can let it go. So read if you want but you don’t have to.
Thursday, Nov 28, Thanksgiving - we had a house-full. 26 people, I believe. Everything seemed fine.
Friday - He threw up a few times (maybe 2 or 3). We weren’t concerned because he had always been a pukey dog, ever since he was a puppy. Usually he would eat a toy or a hair rubberband and then throw it up. Plus with Thanksgiving the day before, we figured he ate some human food. We didn’t feed him people food but with everyone here and little kids carrying food around or leaving plates unattended, we just thought he got some people food. We were not concerned about turkey bones because Kurt had carved the turkey, removed all the meat from the bones and then tied up and threw away the bird so we knew there were no bones for him to get. We weren't even worry about it.
Saturday - Evan was baptized and we hosted a lunch for about 36 people. We didn’t feed him that morning because we wanted to let his tummy rest. Plus who wants a puking dog at a party? He seemed fine, ran around with people outside. I don’t think he was 100% but I definitely didn’t think anything was seriously wrong. He did throw up during Saturday night which did kind of worry us because there wasn’t anything in him to throw up plus his vomiting hadn't lasted this long before.
Sunday - he was a lot more lazy. Just kind of laid around. That evening he drank some water and immediately threw it up. Ok, this worried us. We figured that something he ate must be stuck in him. We took him to his vet, which also happens to be a pet hospital so at least they had all his records. They took x-rays and did an ultrasound but didn’t notice anything stuck in him. They did notice that he was dehydrated and that his stomach looked like it had gas in it and the lining of a section of his intestine looked thicker than normal. This was called gastroindo. . .something, I can’t remember. They said he probably ate something that upset/possibly scratched his stomach or intestines and it just needed to heal. They gave him fluids and told us to feed him a very bland diet of chicken and rice and to gradually increase the amounts if he kept them down.
Monday - I made him chicken and rice which he ate each time I put it down. He ate the chicken and kind of left the rice but he didn’t throw up so we thought he was on the mend. He also peed a lot because of all the fluids they gave him. We thought things were ok.
Tuesday - We noticed that each day his activity level decreased. Kurt got him to eat about 6 bite size pieces of chicken at about 11 am. The rest of the day he refused anything we gave him. This worried us because he always ate everything (including toys and hair bands) but not even chicken would pass his lips. We kept trying (bread, pasta, chicken, cottage cheese) and by dinner, we were really getting worried. Kurt had Mutual (a church activity) to go to and so we decided that I would try again while he was gone. Kurt came home determined to get him to eat. Cody would always do anything for Kurt but this night he would NOT eat. We decided he need to go back to the vet. Of course, we were now after hours and it was an ER visit again. I took him while Kurt stayed home with the kids. The vet came in looked in his eyes, which I couldn’t see from where I was sitting but then she flipped back his ear and I knew immediately we were in trouble. The skin in his ears was yellow. She then showed me the whites of his eyes which were not white, they were yellow. My mom immediately popped in my mind because when her liver started shutting down, she turned yellow too. I knew he had liver problems. She wanted to admit him and do lab work which I immediately agreed to. I went home and she called us at about 11:30 pm with the lab results. His liver definitely showed that something was wrong. It also showed a kidney level at 1.9. The normal level is 1 with 1.8 being a high normal so they just thought that it was slightly high because he had been dehydrated. They were not concerned with his kidneys, just his liver. They wanted to give him some medicine for his liver during the night, we agreed.
Wednesday - the vet called and told us that after the blood draw the night before, the site wouldn’t stop bleeding. Cody’s blood wasn’t clotting correctly. This can be a definite sign of liver failure. She tested his clotting factors and discovered that in fact they were out of normal range. Due to the elevated liver levels and the clotting problem, they declared him in liver failure. We had hope because the liver can regenerate but it would just depend on the damage done to it and if enough of it was left undamaged to regenerate. It would just take time to know. Kurt and I actually went down after the call to talk to the vet in person because so much can be lost over the phone. She was really concerned about him and his prognosis. She said that, due to the clotting problem, he needed a plasma transfusion otherwise he could start bleeding uncontrollably. We agreed to it. She said that he would get worse before he got better and that they would redraw his blood again that night to compare to the labs from the night before. Kurt and I visited Cody and he stood up when he saw us but immediately laid back down. Definitely not the Cody that we knew. Poor baby felt so sick. When she called Wednesday night with the labs, there was good news and bad news. The liver actually looked stable, if not a little bit better. We were surprised by this. We were also surprised because his kidney level jumped to 4.3. This was really bad. He was now showing signs of multi-organ disfunction. This was also the first time that leptospirosis was brought up. The vet didn’t really think it was lepto because Cody had been vaccinated against it but since his liver was having problems and now his kidneys, she said lepto was possible. She recommended that we put a catheter in so that they would know exactly how much urine his kidneys were making (this also helps protect everyone from urine in his dog run). She also recommended that we transfer him to the internal medicine department of the hospital in the morning.
Thursday - he was transferred to internal medicine (which basically means that a more specialized team took over his care. He was still in the same dog run). That vet, Dr. Smith, called that morning and shared that she was really concerned about him. She wanted to rerun is blood work that morning instead of waiting until that night. I agreed. (They have to get your approval to do anything since everything is so expensive). When the numbers came back, his liver looked even better but the kidneys were even worse, now at 7. At this point she said he was in liver failure and acute kidney failure. It didn’t look good at all for him. They suspected lepto even more now that his kidneys were looking so bad. Kurt and I went to visit him that morning. They now required us to wear gloves to touch him because lepto is potentially transmittable to humans (although you would have to ingest his urine to get it). He stood up when he saw us and remained standing for a little while. We finally told him to lay down but he was definitely more alert and energetic, by which I mean he wasn’t just laying there. He wagged his tail, he responded by lifting his head when we talked to him. He just seemed a little bit better even though the labs looked worse. The vet was still very, VERY guarded about his prognosis. She was giving him a 10-20% chance of pulling through so we knew it wasn’t likely he was going to survive. We took the kids to visit him that afternoon to say their goodbyes (T was left with a babysitter). Talk about heart wrenching. The kids just sobbed. He also looked a lot worse. He didn’t even stand when he saw us. I think he may have wagged his tail but he definitely didn’t feel good. Also, they now not only required us to wear gloves but also to stand in a bleach bucket if we walked into his run. They put a blanket down for us to sit on and that is where the kids stayed. They had lepto warnings and a lepto laundry basket in his run. Kurt and I met with the vet while the kids waited in the waiting room. She said she wanted to recheck only his kidney level that night just to see what was happening. We agreed to it. If the number went up, we would be out of options and need to put him down that night. If it was the same or went down, we should give him more time and see what happened. 10-20% of the dogs make it so we had to give him that chance. Maybe he would be in that set of dogs that make the 10-20% possible. She said there was still a chance for the antibiotics to kick in and turn him around. We had hope but we were fully prepared to go back to the hospital that evening and put him to sleep. When she called that night, I could tell by her voice that she had good news - his number dropped to 4.3! She said we should give him until the morning and recheck it again. We went to bed so hopeful. We understood the chances but, man, we hoped.
Friday - they were scheduled to pull the lab work at 7 am. We were on pins and needles waiting for the call. I was in the middle of grocery shopping when it finally came. His kidneys had completely stopped working. He was making very, very little urine and his body was swelling due to the fluids going in but nothing coming out. It was time. Kurt met me at the vet and we said goodbye to Cody.
We are devastated. I mean, we will be okay and get through this, but we are pretty sad around here. We just can’t believe he is gone. One day he was playing and happy and then 5 days later, gone. The kids are doing okay. They all cried themselves to sleep last night but I think that was to be expected. We just hug which ever one is falling apart at that time and tell them it is okay to cry and be sad but it is okay to be happy too.
They think he contracted leptospirosis somehow. It is a disease that is transmitted by wild life through urine so probably a squirrel or rodent or something peed in our yard in a puddle and Cody, being the water loving dog that he was, probably drank it. He was vaccinated against it but it is kind of like the flu. They can vaccinate against some variations of it but not all and he must have been exposed to a variation that he wasn’t protected against. We did everything right. It was just a fluke thing. A devastatingly, fluke thing.
Like I said before, it is transmittable to humans, if they ingest his urine. It is very rare for a human to get it so we should all be safe but we had a houseful of people on 2 different days. I have had to notify everyone that was here about the risk. My main concern is that a kid dropped food in the grass and then picked it up and ate it. That is the only way I can imagine someone ingesting his urine. T drops food all the time and then eats it. Totally freaks me out but all we can do is wait and see. Can you imagine how I would feel if a little kid were to get sick?
Oh, and also we were doggie sitting for friends of ours from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to that Sunday. I am so worried about their dog. Can you imagine how horrible I will feel if their dog gets sick too? I have told them to watch their dog like a hawk and let their vet know about the situation.
I can’t even think about it. I can’t even think about someone getting sick from this.
They don’t know for sure if he even had lepto. They are guessing but it is hard to test for. You have to take their blood one week after symptoms start, which was yesterday, so they drew his blood before he passed. Then usually they retest the blood 2 weeks after that and between the 2 tests they can tell if it was lepto. We will not have the 2nd test to compare with and reading just the one test can be tricky because it will show positive for lepto because he had the vaccine. We will probably never know for sure but from their experience, that is what they think it was.
So if you are still reading all this, and if you have a dog, and even if you have vaccinated your dog, DON’T let them drink any water in the backyard! Who knows what is in there. We thought our yard was safe. We thought we had protected him. We thought we would still have our Cody right now, but we don’t. And we are so sad.
If you read all of this, you are a trooper. Thanks for hanging through all that with me. Hopefully now I will be able to sleep better. Hopefully all the “what ifs” will settle down. Hopefully now I will have some peace.