I Have Some Sad News to Share

Hello all.   I've put this post off for the past few days.  You'll know why in a second.   But if you've been following the stories of Jimmy, Ginger, Bert, and Rosie, I feel that I owe it to you. 

Jimmy passed away this past weekend.  Early Sunday morning.   Exactly 6 months to the weekend, that they first arrived.  They arrived on Friday night late, and on that Saturday in November, I walked into the office, and started cleaning them up and working with them.  "Here we go", I said to myself.

Jimmy's last day here.

This past Saturday, the 19th,  I came in to walk everybody,  we had several boarders staying too.  Everything was fine.  Rosie went out. Bert went out.  And while I was putting Bert back up, I saw Jimmy throw up at the door to his cage.  It was dog food mixed with lots of fresh blood.  Too much blood.

I looked at the floor. And then at him standing in his cage waiting to go out.  Back to floor. Back to him.   And these questions came to mind.  WHERE did that come from?  WHY are you throwing that up? and WHAT are we going to do about it? 

I took him out . . . he seemed okay.  His stool was a bit loose.  He drank a little water and  kept that down.  By lunch time, his stool had turned to bloody diarrhea.   I called my brother who is also a vet to make sure I was being rational in my thinking, as I  left the realm of veterinarian and moved to frantic pet parent. 

All 4 of them tested positive for heartworms when they got here from the pound.   The drug to kill adult heartworms was not available in the States at the time due to a manufacturing problem.  But, heartworm guidelines have changed over the years, and while we used to use the drug immediately, now it is recommended to use a slower treatment protocol.  I should do a whole blog post one day to explain that in more detail.  Ginger, Bert, and Rosie started their treatment in November, and Jimmy had to wait till mid February, as that was when we could get out hands on him enough to test him while he was anesthetized to be neutered.  So we knew he had heartworms. From the outside, it's difficult to tell how bad the worms are and what damage they are causing.

So we quickly ran narrowed down possible causes.  If it came from the lungs, it could be pneumonia, it could be from the heartworms. If it is from his stomach, not sure. 

The other problem is Jimmy himself. While his social skills had been improving, and he looks better on video over the past few months, he is still far from a normal dog.   A NORMAL dog would lay still for an xray. Sit still for bloodwork.  Get in a car if they need to go to the University to have some test done.  Be fine around strange people.  Be fine with strange people handling them in a strange place like the teaching hospital.  Be fine being hooked up to an IV pump.

Jimmy didn't like to be picked up to be put in the tub for a bath.  Or to have his temperature taken. Anything out of the ordinary, would stress him out.  I was going to have to treat him here, and wing it, without the luxury of having test results.

The other rule out for  his vomiting and bloody diarrhea, was hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. Also know as HGE.   It happens quickly, no one knows quite how or why, but it is suspected to be a Clostidial endotoxin much like botulism or tetanus.

So I loaded him up on fluids for the dehydration and diarrhea, 2 different antibiotics for possible pneumonia, along with anti-inflammatories and cortisone for possible problems from the heartworms.   Shotgun therapy- treat for everything, hope something works.

By late Saturday night at midnight or a little later, with all his meds and fluids on board, I kissed him on top of the head, which "Normal Jimmy" would not have allowed, and told him, "I hate to put you to sleep without know exactly what is going on with ya', as that sort of feels like I'm giving up on you.  But I don't want to watch you suffer either.  You have to help me out a little if you want to stay."

By early Sunday morning, he was gone.  

Jimmy had a little bit of a fan club on my hospital facebook page.  So I had to tell them the news. They were as shocked and saddened as I was.  You can read the posts and comments from Sunday, you might have to scroll down or back a few days.  Here's the link.

I took his body to the diagnostic lab for an autopsy.   On Monday, I sent his blood sample, that I pulled on Saturday,  to the lab.  The pathologist called on Monday afternoon late, and said Jimmy had a heavy heartworm  burden with lots of damage to his heart and lungs.   There was bleeding in his intestine and they would be doing some tests to determine the cause of that.

The bloodwork I sent to the lab, showed a severe low platelet count which is consistent with DIC. Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation.  It is never a primary problem, it is always secondary to something else, but the prognosis is grim with DIC.   

The pathologist called today and said the intestinal bleeding was caused by Parvovirus.  Which isn't common in adult dogs, and Jimmy was vaccinated, but can sometimes occur.  Parvo is bad, but not always fatal.  Heartworms are bad, and not always fatal.  Both Parvo and Heartworms can trigger DIC.  But Parvo, Heartworms, heart/ lung damage, and DIC is just too much to overcome.

I had no idea when I walked into the office on Saturday morning, the 19th would be Jimmy's last day here.  6 months to the weekend that he arrived.

The video that I shared last Friday, the 18th, was clips that I had collected over the past 6 months.  I put it together on Wednesday, the 16th.  The wrestling clip with Ginger and Daisy, towards the end, was from Mother's Day. A week before he passed away.   I think Ginger and Daisy have missed him this week as much as I have. 

And even though I shared this last week,  I am posting it again as a tribute to him.  It is how I want to remember Jimmy.  I hope other remember him too.  And I hope it encourages people to consider adopting shelter and rescue pets, no matter how unadoptable they seem at first.    Please feel free to share it, if you wish, if you didn't share it last week.  Feel free to share it 2 weeks from now, 2 months from now . . .  next year . . .  whenever you want.

I'll miss you, Jimmy. 


Anandi Raman Creath said...

Hugs, Andy. I think it's awesome you work so hard for these guys. And I can't imagine how hard it is to treat patients who can't tell you their symptoms :(

"JeanneG" said...

Oh Andy, that's a wonderful video and I cried like a baby. I'm so glad you took him and made his last months wonderful. Thank you.

joanne sharpe said...

Oh so sorry Andy! I am so sad about Jimmy. But i know his time on earth was full of life and love that you gave him. :-(

Colleen said...

I am so so sorry. I used to work as a Animal Care Tech. I know how absolutely heartbreaking this is for you and your staff. I also know you gave Jimmy hope and love for his final months. I always tell people who lose a beloved pet that what I saw in my job was that dogs just want a family to love and be loved by. You gave that to Jimmy. I cry for him and for you.

Rebecca said...

We'll miss you Jimmy! You were loved by people who never met you, you might not have ever known that - but Dr. Andy has shared your story and we've all watched your progression over these past months from a scared dog to a beautiful canine companion so full of life. Rest easy, run free and wag more!

lc said...

Hearts are Broken
I felt such a unique attachement to Jimmy mayb it ws because he reminded me of a Akita I use to have
Thank you you wonder man and vet!!!!!!
I look forward to your blogs thou they will never be the same ((

vic said...

So sorry to hear about Jimmy. You gave him your best: medical expertise and lots of love and that counts for so much.

Preserve Jewelry Studio said...

I am truly sad to hear about Jimmy. On the happy side, you gave him 6 months of wonderful care. We thank you for sharing the story. Keep us informed on the rest of the gang.

ellie said...

Andy, I am so sad for you and Jimmy. He was a beautiful dog and you made his last months wonderful. You are such an angel.

MilkaWay said...

This dog was so blessed to have ended up in your care for the last months of his life, and experience what it's like to be loved, cared for, have a bond, and have someone believe in him. You made a real difference in his life, and in turn, he enriched yours (and ours) as well. What a story!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Andy, thank you for giving Jimmy the best life although short, Jimmy knew you loved him. the video is a testament for all shelter animals.Thank you for giving Jimmy the hope & love he so needed.

MC NJ said...

I am so sorry for your loss of Jimmy. I followed his story since you got him from Shane. Both you & Jimmy made me laugh & just crying... Thank god he had you to love him for the past 6 months

MC NJ said...

I am so sorry for your loss :-(
I have followed Jimmy's story since he was part of the pardon in GA. I saw him play for the first time, go for a walk & have a bath after which he was extremely handsome! Thank you Dr. Matthis for showing Jimmy he was loved...I so wanted a happy ending for this big fluffy guy. I am heartbroken :-(

Elizabeth Johnson said...

Thank you for sharing this update. I love the video. It is wonderful. Thank you for giving Jimmy love, comfort, and joy in his last days on earth.


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