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Archive for July 14th, 2010

Well, if you haven’t already heard, I’ll just tell you upfront: Brees didn’t make it.

Now the details…

Brees and I had a really wonderful time traveling together. I was such a proud mummy. Brees was so well-behaved, without even having to be told. He stayed at my side, didn’t pull on the leash or try to sniff everyone. He allowed everyone to touch him and stroke him; a little 1.5 yr old boy ran over and threw himself on top of Brees, and all Brees did was lick his face. It was like a dream. I wish I could travel with him every time I go away.

sweet boy in the airport

JetBlue was really great, and gave us the whole front row of the plane to ourselves, so Brees had plenty of space to lay at my feet. They even upgraded us to those larger front seats at no extra charge! I’m not sure if that’s standard practice when you travel with a service dog, or if it’s just because the flight wasn’t very full; but either way, it was awesome!

When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, my cousin, Steph, and her boyfriend, John, picked us up from the airport and took us back to their place. Steph has a Boston Terrier named Scooter who is about 1.5yrs old. When we first arrived, Scooter was super excited and had to let Brees know that we were on his turf, but after that, they got on just great. They had a few playful battles over various toys and rawhides (seeing who could stack the most items in their corner) and generally just enjoyed each other’s company.

The next morning (Monday), we had our appointment with Dr. Fanning at the Hollywood Animal Hospital, bright & early at 8.20am. We were seen at about 9am, and explained all Brees’ history and symptoms and medications to Dr. Fanning in addition to giving her his official medical records and x-rays from Palmdale Vet Clinic (here in Nassau). She said they were going to run a slew of tests as well as take some radiographs (x-rays) and do an ultrasound, but that we would be able to pick him up later that afternoon, and we could discuss the results of his tests then.

So Steph and I bid Brees a quick farewell (he always gets so upset when I leave, so I tried to make it quick), left a deposit for the tests, and went to breakfast at this awesome diner called Lester’s. The rest of the day we spent running a few errands and doing some shopping (I love me some Target) and then returned home to rest and have a nap before going back to pick up Brees.

I guess it was around 4pm when Dr. Fanning called to give me an update. On his bloodwork, the most notable thing was his low levels of Albumin. Albumin is a protein in the blood (from what I gather) and his levels have been consistently decreasing since I admitted him to the hospital last Wednesday. Not a good thing. She said it meant he was leaking it from somewhere (how-I have no idea) and that he also had a lot of fluid in his abdominal cavity, which was very unusual.

The radiologist, after looking at the x-rays, felt that the “angry” shape of Brees’ small intestines indicated a linear foreign obstruction, ie: a piece of string, or something of that nature stuck somewhere in his G.I. tract. So Dr. Fanning was suggesting opening up Brees’ abdomen for exploratory surgery to try and find the suspected foreign body, and also just to take a look at his other organs and make sure everything looked right. This really freaked me out. Really! They were going to have to put him under anesthesia, which is always risky, but even more so for a dog with an already compromised liver (what happens if they can’t wake him up from the anesthesia?). And, they were going to be cutting a 6-12inch (12 inches!? That’s a FOOT!) incision into his belly. Into my puppy’s belly. I was so scared, but what could I do? This was the only option…

She told me that she was about to scrub into the surgery which she expected to take no more than 2 hours, and that she would call me as soon as he woke up from the anesthesia. However, she also warned me that if anything went awry during the surgery, that she would be calling me sooner. She said she didn’t expect this to happen at all, but she just had to warn me, in case. I said ok, and wished her good luck.

It couldn’t have been more than half an hour later when my phone rang… I recognized the phone number, and it was Dr. Fanning. I answered, bracing myself for bad news, and she gave it to me. Brees has multiple extrahepatic portosystemic shunts; too many to even count. In addition to that, his other organs, especially his small intestines, were small, shriveled and sick looking. She told me that with this many shunts, his condition was inoperable, and also not treatable with medicine or supplements. She needed to know what I wanted them to do; whether I wanted them to stitch him up and try to wake him so that I could say goodbye, or just put him to sleep while he was already under anesthesia…I was stunned. How could this happen? My puppy was fine (outwardly) when I left him with you this morning. Last night he was playing and eating and being perfect. And I love him so much. And you’re telling me he doesn’t have a chance at surviving?

Anyone who has ever had to make this decision knows how devastating it is… I told her I needed to speak with Benji before I gave her an answer, and would call her back. So I called Benji (barely coherent, as you can imagine) and tried to explain the situation. We were both on the same page. There was no sense in trying to wake him up just so that I could say goodbye. I can’t even imagine how difficult that would have been for me or Brees. Brees has always had the worst anxiety about me leaving him, even if I just walk out of the room for 30 seconds. I couldn’t imagine putting him through that again, especially in his delicate condition.

So I called Dr. Fanning back and told her that we had decided it would be best not to wake him up, and I asked her if it would be possible to cremate his remains so that we could take him back to The Bahamas with us. She said of course, and that they would take care of it. I just couldn’t imagine leaving my baby in a foreign place, where he would probably just be disposed of without respect in a dumpsite somewhere. It hurts my heart to even think about that…

And so. We’ve lost Brees. The most soulful, loving, emotional and intelligent dog I’ve ever had. He really was like my child, and my chest physically hurts when I feel the loss. I knew him and loved him from the day he was born, anxiously awaiting the day I could take him home with me. We had so many wonderful memories with Brees, and quite a few painful, scary experiences…ending, finally, with this one.

I try to take consolation in my belief that, although his life was far too short, it was a good life. We did everything we possibly could and spared no expense in our fight to save him. I don’t think my connection with Brees will ever be matched; he was a one in a million, special dog, and I will never forget him.

R.I.P. baby Breesy. I love you.

7 January 2010 – 12 July 2010

forever at my side, and in my heart

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