Emma was a healthy girl, so what went so terribly wrong last week? Two months ago at her yearly physical, all her tests came back normal. She was active, doing all the things she has always done, and loved to do, but something happened. One minute she was fine, the next things started to change. This photo I took of her at our regular vet the morning she passed away. I had all the hope in the world she would be cured and coming home.
To help understand the hows and whys of what happened you need to know how Emma was. The GBGV is a breed with shorter legs and a long body. Back issues can become a problem if one isn’t careful. As Emma aged, she started seeing a chiropractor every few months. I could tell when her back was starting to need and adjustment by the way she walked, and she would not want to do stairs. She was also a real drama queen. Just a leaf in her fur, and you would think she had been seriously injured. She would expect me to remove it so she could go on. After being spayed at four years old, I had to take her back to the vet after three days because she refused to move, or walk. I thought something was terribly wrong, but the vet found nothing wrong, and basically told me Emma was a drama queen. Reading injuries/pain with Emma was a challenge.
Sunday, Emma got some wild pants on and participated in some wrestling. Shortly afterwards, I took Emma for a quick walk, and I could tell her back was bothering her. I figured something was out of place from wrestling. Often times, she would sleep for a night and be miraculously healed by morning. Monday morning, she was still in pain, so I took her to the chiropractor to be adjusted. Monday afternoon, after Emma had a nap, I took her for a short walk. She seemed to be feeling better, sniffing around, did a tail wag or two, and was moving better. It looked like she was on her way back to normal. Sometimes an adjustment took a day or so to work.
After taking Madison to her agility class Monday night, I came home to find Emma not looking so good. She did not want to get up at all. I stood her up, felt all over, moved her body around, but she didn’t seem to have any painful areas. Starting on Monday, she didn’t want to eat anymore either. I decided to take her to the vet first thing in the morning.
By the time I got to our vet in the morning, Emma didn’t want to walk at all, and was in obvious pain. She had also tossed up some dark fluid, which was most likely blood, at home. Our vet did all she could to figure out what was wrong, but couldn’t make a diagnosis. I still wasn’t worried as Emma was so healthy. Two years ago I rushed Bailie to the ER when she suddenly fell ill. They told me she wouldn’t survive the night, but she did and as a healthy dog., Emma would be fine too, right?
We were sent to the Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota for specialized care. I felt confident they would help us. X-rays and ultrasounds were done, blood work was done, and checked, but they too could not find the exact problem. By this time her vitals were quite weak and she was dehydrated.
She was admitted, and after about an hour, her vitals started to improve. I was told to let her get some rest, go home and boil some ground turkey, and come back around dinnertime to see if she would eat. I felt confident she was on the mend. Heavens, she even turned to pose for this photo. The specialist was talking about how she could possibly go home with me the next day.
A couple hours later I got the call that she was not doing well, and would most likely not make it. I could not believe it! I returned as fast as I could, and minutes after I arrived she stopped breathing, and then they started CPR. I asked them to stop as her organs were shutting down. Things were so bad, chances for recovery were far too slim to put her through any more. I held her in my arms for about five minutes as her heart slowly stopped. She was gone, but why. I spent time privately for a half hour or so before I went home.
She died of septic shock. Her stomach was full of sepsis. We don’t know how it happened, as it could be caused by so many things internally. There was a spot on her spleen that looked like a small bruise or tumor that could have burst, and there was a trail of some sort that could have been blood. It showed up on x-rays and ultrasounds. If blood from the spleen got into her stomach it could have caused the sepsis which can be super fast. But, why was she having trouble with her back legs and tail? The symptoms don’t fit together. Surgery was the only way to figure it all out but without stable vitals, no surgery. There are so many medical terms in her records that don’t make sense to me, it’s hard to understand it all.
My gut feeling is that something happened to her spleen while she was playing. Emma taught me to trust my gut and that is what my gut tells me. Even before we went to the vet, I felt like she had some type of internal injury. I didn’t want to do an autopsy, because nothing will bring her back and the thought of having her body explored bothered me. I wish I had a simple answer, but whatever it was, it was complicated. It had to be something that happened while she was wrestling around because until that point, she was fine. Would I do anything different if there was a next time? Probably not. Once it appeared to be more than back pain, I took her to the vet, and until that morning, I had no reason to believe it was more than a back issue mixed with drama queen.
Friday, her ashes came back, and I was able to pick her up and bring her home. I feel a tiny bit better having her home, but it is not the same as having the Emma I left with a week ago.
The rest of the week, we will be putting up happy posts to remember Emma. We hope you all join us.