Most of you know me well enough by now to realize that for me silence is not golden. When something is just too hard to talk about, I just don’t talk. The past two weeks we have been on a heartbreaking journey with Faye only to discover she is in Stage 4 of kidney failure. The very same day I told you about Ben’s leukemia, I took Faye to our local vet and asked for blood work and X-rays. We had taken her in about 10 days earlier because she was not eating well and had lost some weight and was just generally acting quiet and despondent which I chalked up to the visiting dogs. The first time she refused her favorite food we thought she was acting like a “diva”. That Monday our vet again thought her tummy might hurt but had no idea why. The next day Tuesday the vet called with the test results which were shocking – levels relating to her kidneys were off the charts and we were to bring her in the next day for a regimen of IV fluids to flush her kidneys of toxins.
That brings us up to the morning I picked up the chicks. Remember these pictures taken on Wednesday morning?
Right after I settled the chicks in the barn I took Faye to our vet and checked her in where she stayed until Friday when her levels had not improved. I went to see her twice a day but she was alone all night which I hated to think about. On Friday our vet suggested we go to Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, 2 hours south of us, where we rushed her Friday afternoon. We arrived at the university veterinary hospital emergency room late in the afternoon and Faye was admitted to the ICU. Oh, it was so hard to leave her there with strangers! She had an internal medicine vet and a student assigned to her care and the facility had people around 24/7.
We drove down every day to visit her so she would know she had not been abandoned but it was Rick who she clung to and Rick who cried the whole time.
The diagnosis? Kidney failure. But she’s only 4-1/2 yrs. old! We were asked over and over if she had gotten into any household chemicals, antifreeze, human medication like ibuprofen, anything toxic we could think of. I asked about the jerky treats – not the ones made in China but those made in the US. We were told by who we consider the Mayo Clinic of dog health that the USDA cannot confirm any concrete evidence to connect chicken jerky treats to kidney failure but that some companies in the US were using components from China in their jerky even tho the jerky was actually being made in the US. I took a new bag of US made chicken jerky to Faye’s last appointment and asked our Iowa State vet if she would give them to her dog and she said “no”. She also reminded me that there is no evidence that points to the jerky causing kidney failure in Faye who loved chicken jerky more than anything in the world. We gave it to Telly, too, so we also had Telly tested. Telly’s tests were normal. Now maybe she’s just bigger and stronger and not as suceptible as Faye or maybe it’s not the jerky at all. Maybe it’s Faye’s genetics.
Faye has had IVs, ultrasounds, X-rays, blood draws, urine draws, heart monitors, enemas, feeding tubes and enough exams to last a lifetime. Her only option was a feeding tube into her stomach. That’s what brought this to our attention to begin with . She quit eating – first she cut back and started losing weight and she became quiet. Her vet is convinced this has happened over a long period of time and gradually her health declined before our very eyes. One symptom of kidney disease is excess shivering which we have noticed. If we had gone to our vet last January and said Faye just shivers, he would have told us to get her a coat and he would have also reminded us we live in North Iowa! And when she started refusing some of her favorite foods, who would have thought to run a kidney panel?
She has now lost a third of her weight and is a walking skeleton. We brought her home last Tuesday to spend whatever time she has left as quality time with us. The feeding tube into her stomach would have required her to live strictly indoors to keep the tube completely clean and that would not be quality life for Faye. We try to tempt her with absolutely anything we think she might eat. Today I brought home chicken McNuggets and she ate 2 of them. She will also eat a cooked egg yolk sometimes and beef baby food. I have made my own chicken jerky and once in awhile she likes that but she will only eat a few bites a day.
We are devastated and heartbroken. I have accepted it now, I guess, and when I see her curled up in her bed, just a little bundle of bones, I realize that the little lively feisty dog we love so much is actually already gone.
I know you will all be feeling bad for me now and I will appreciate any prayers for Faye. Forgive me if I don’t respond to all the comments. I have cancelled all the dog boarding reservations and anything else on my calendar. I am sewing a lot because I just have to do something other than sit in my chair and cry. Rick will go back on the road and I will try to take care of Faye this week. I have ordered something online that MAY help her – we have nothing to lose and if she’d just eat better, she’d buy herself some time.
I knew I could not post on this blog anymore unless you knew about Faye. I talk about my life and the love I have for my dogs is at the center of my life. I can feel my heart cracking as I write.