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The ROCKY Story

R.I.P. Rockydoggie.

November 20th 2007 11:05 am
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Rocky passed away yesterday at a Specialist center/Hospital in Irvine. I wasn't there to say goodbye or hold him but according to Dr Tammy, he was pretty much out of it. His passing was peaceful, swift and... Wherever he is now, I hope this sweet little boy will be happy (as he always was with us) and will be able to SEE his beloved squeaky toys.

Everything happened really fast. A week ago, Wes and I were in NYC when Rocky had his first seizure. On Saturday morning he had his second one, and then about seven or eight more seizures followed this throughout the night into the next morning. The convulsions were violent, there was a lot of frothing at the mouth and after each seizure he was disorientated, restless, had difficulty breathing...

On Sunday (day before yestereday) we took Rocky into an Emergency clinic where he was administered valium and phenobarbital, and put in an oxygen tank with IV tubes. After a while he became stable enough for us to drive him to Dr Tammy (Neurologist) in Orange County for more tests. The Emergency Vet was ready to euthanize him, but we couldn't bring ourselves to do this without finding out if there was hope... We didn't know what was wrong with him.

We didn't know at the time that when we dropped Rocky off in Irvine Sunday night, this would be our final physical moment with him. The boy was all doped up and resting in Wes' arms and still he lifted his little head to give us kisses on our faces before they took him away. He was such a sweet sweet boy.

Yesterday morning, after Rocky's MRI scan, he had another two seizures. He was vomitting a lot of fluid, compulsively walking in circles, bumping into the walls of his cage, falling over a lot, totally disorientated... and then after a while when he stopped breathing and had to be put on a "breathing machine",we all agreed that it was time to say goodbye. The MRI results showed an infection/tumor in his cerebrospinal fluid... this would spread too quickly to be curable.

I feel very lucky to have been foster mom to this sweet, cheerful, playful, loyal, loving, patient blind dog that nobody wanted. He was a joy to take care of and very loved and spoiled rotten by us here and will be remembered forever.

I cannot thank BostonBuddies enough, who supported Wes and I through this weekend's trauma and for having done so much for Rocky. As you all can imagine, the medical bills are sky-high. So if you would like to help out with the treatment that Rocky has received or contribute to the care of other homeless sick Bostons, your donations can be made via the BostonBuddies website and these will be hugely appreciated.

- Lili

P.S. I have uploaded some videos (sorry, theyre kind dark and blurry) to Rocky's Myspace blog, where there are more diary entries which didn't make it over here to his Dogster page. Click on the VIDEOS section to see him playing with his squeaky toy.

You can also see photos of Rocky at Flickr.


Permanently Blind

August 9th 2007 9:36 am
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First of all check out All-Mighty Clothing. A very cool Bostie-inspired clothing store and our Rockster is on their website!!! All-Mighty also has a myspace page and a Flickr account with lots of boston terrier photos.

As of today, Rocky will have been on prednisone for almost 1 month. I am tapering off his dosage & he will be meds-free in about 2 weeks. So far there have been no changes. He is still the same blind 'happy pinball' dog that he was when he first came here and Dr. Stevenson said that if there are no changes it is likely that Rocky's optic nerves are too damaged. It looks like he won't be getting his sight back. :(


I know it's easy to feel sorry for Rocky - being newly blind at the ripe old age of 9 years. But the good part is that he is doing really well in spite of not being able to see.

For a blind dog, he is happy, confident and playful. He likes to fling and drop his own ball (or kong) and fetch it, using his nose to relocate it. It takes him some time to find it again but he is getting better!

Most people don't believe me when I tell them he is completely blind. When you talk to Rocky, he turns his head and *looks* at you. When he sits on your lap, he turns his head from time to time and *looks* at you with his big pink tongue wagging. We sometimes forget that he isn't really looking at us.

His navigation skills are not wonderful.... he still bumps into things (especially when he gets excited) but is learning to compensate for the blindness with his nose and ears. He is good on a leash (except when there are other dogs around) and he will follow me everywhere, listening to footsteps and voice directions. I believe that with time, he will get smarter using his other senses.


*Amazingly, he can get "lost" in my apartment, unable to locate me on the couch from a few steps away BUT he can sniff-out another dog's toy hidden in the bushes from several feet away!

* Rocky lies on my bathroom floor when I get ready/do my face in the mornings. When he hears the sound of my hairbrush or the toilet flush, he gets up on his feet and waits at the door.

* Words that Rocky knows (but doesn't always respond to):Treats, Walk, Sit, Shake Hands, Stop, Careful, Come Here, This Way, Up/Down(for steps), Lie Down, Hungry? When you ask him a question, his eyes open wide and he cocks his head to one side. He is so cute!!!


Another week of Wait-And-See

July 24th 2007 12:09 pm
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I received a call from Dr. Stevenson yesterday. Rocky's MRI results have been analyzed by a radiologist but there is no new information. :(

It seems that the inflammation could be as Dr. S suspects - either GME, or lymphoma (a type of brain cancer, though unlikely because there are no other symptoms. I hope not, anyway!) It is also possible that we are too late in trying to save his eyesight. Perhaps Rocky's optic nerves are way too damaged, such that even if we can control the inflammation, he will be permanently blind.

In the meantime, Rocky is the same. He is still bumping into things. He has become super flatulent and his poos are runny but that could be because I am giving him new stuff to eat, like glucosamine biscuits, chewable vitamin tablets (with Milk Thistle for his liver), skin-&-coat nibbles and cheese-flavored "dental bones". If he is going to be extra hungry (from the prednisone) and if I am going to be giving him treats anyway, I may as well give him some good healthy stuff, right?

For the next week starting today , I am doubling his prednisone dosage to10mg twice a day. Dr. S. says that if there are still no changes after 1 week, it will be time to wean him off the steroid.

The good news is that in spite of his blindness and bumping into things, Rocky is still a very happy, playful and loving dog. He gets lots of compliments on the street for being handsome and cute and he continues to be very spoiled here.

With a great list of tips for owners of blind dogs.
Yahoo Blind Dogs group


Shake Hands!

July 19th 2007 8:23 pm
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It has been just over a week and despite twice daily doses of Prednisone, Rocky is still blind. Regardless, he is still as happy, playful, spoiled and pampered as any normal seeing dog, with not a care in the world. He LOVES his new Kong toy (he plays with this several times a day), he loves going for walks, getting butt scratches and he follows me around everywhere.

Rocky didn't respond to any basic commands when he first came here but now he knows "SIT" and "STOP". Today he learnt how to "SHAKE HANDS" and he is SO cute when he sits and lifts up his left paw! Rockford P. Dogg is a fast learner!!! (He also has a belly full of treats after today's little lesson) Next, I'll work on teaching him some useful commands... like "SLOW DOWN" and "STEP".

As some of you know, Rocky is not dog-friendly. Being blind, he can smell and hear other dogs but freaks out because he can't see them. He goes nuts, pulls on the leash in all directions and barks (He has a surprisingly deep "manly" bark, by the way) Several times he has snapped violently at other dogs, such that I always warn my neighbors (who have dogs) to "stay away" when they approach. It isVERY HARD to control Rocky when he gets hyped-up, and defensive-aggressive. He is a strong boy.

Well, this evening, our yard was like a dog park. There were about five pups running around, one of them was barking at Rocky and he was retaliating by pulling and barking back while I struggled to keep hold of his harness and lead him away from the madness. The moment I said "SIT!", Rocky stopped barking and sat down calmly in front of me. The sudden mood change was unbelievable. He was instantly CALM. A little while later he was back to pulling on the leash towards the other dogs. I said "SIT" and again he sat quietly like the sweetest dog in the world. After that he was calm and fine. No more barking. No more pulling. It was such a relief! (For me and for him, I bet!)

In the meantime, Rocky's MRI scans have been sent to a radiologist in Colorado for extra analysis. We are still hoping that his vision will return. I will keep you all posted when I hear from Dr. S.


Rocky in the park

July 14th 2007 3:33 pm
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This is Day 3 with prednisone. We are still feeling optimistic even though he is pretty much the same... no significant changes ... still blind. I am seeing some side effects of the prednisone eg, he is hungrier and relicks his empty bowl frequently; he is emitting stinky gases (he didn't before); and some poos are runny...

We have some cute photos from yesterday's little trip to Griffith Park. Unfortunately Dogster Diary won't let me insert pictuers so you'll have to visit Rocky's Flickr Photo Set.

Today I introduced him to the KONG (from the Boston Buddies "Foster Pack" which I received last year) which Jazzy had zero interest in. Rocky loves the Kong! I stuffed it with peanut butter biscuits, he got them out, and then spent about a half-hour chewing away on his new toy. He likes to drop it, let it roll, then sniff around to find it again. I am glad he likes it so much because it's indestructible, unlike tennis balls, rawhide bones and pig's ears which he will chew through in only a matter of SECONDS...


The Results So Far!

July 11th 2007 5:17 pm
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First up, I'll say I don't know much about MRI scans at all. My only point of reference is what I saw at the "BODIES EXHIBITION"... and the scans taken of inside the Human Body looked so sophisticated and high-tech... you could see every organ in technicolor clarity. According to Dr. Stevenson, they inject some sort of fluid into the patient prior to doing the MRI scan (Googled info here), and the fluid will flow through and reveal the locations of cancerous, infected, inflamed tissue. What the MRI scan doesn't do is differentiate between what types of abnormalities you are dealing with... which can be ruled out via other tests.

In Rocky's case, the source of his Optic Neuritis (inflammation) is definitely IN THE BRAIN. I asked Dr S. if it is a brain tumor and she said that while she wouldn't completely rule out cancer, it is not likely to be cancer/Lymphoma because he would be showing other 'cancer-related' symptoms by now, after 2 months of being blind (eg, lethargy, mental dullness, weakness in limbs etc). The examination of his spinal fluid (he had a spinal tap) also doesn't support the Lymphoma theory.

Dr S. thinks Rocky has "GME" (Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis) - a type of inflammatory condition in the brain. She said it's treatable with steroids (prednisone) and how Rocky responds will determine the next step.

So, I will be starting Rocky on Prednisone twice daily, for 2 weeks to 1 month. Unfortunately the side effects will be the same as what Jazzy experienced - extra hunger, thirst, panting, peeing etc. Yikes. Rocky is such a GOOD BOY when it comes to holding in his pee. He has been perfect. No accidents at all. I hope this is not all going to change. He has also been such a fussy and small eater. I can't imagine him ravenous like The Piglet...

The most exciting thing is that if the Prednisone works, he could start SEEING again in as soon as 2- 5 days!!! *Fingers crossed* Dr. S said he will most likely get vision back in his Right eye... she is less hopeful about the Left one because this is the one that is severely inflamed.

Right now, Rocky's MRI results are being interpreted by more specialists ... I will keep you all posted as I learn more.

- Lili


Rocky in Irvine

July 10th 2007 9:55 am
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We dropped Rocky off in Irvine at 6am where he will get a MRI scan today under general anathesia. Poor Rockford. He looked so miserable when he was stripped of his harness and collar this morning, and led away to probably some cage without food or water for the next several hours, surrounded by other anxious dogs in cages (which he cannot see).

I am anxious, of course, trying to remain positive. This is also a very expensive procedure - a huge act of generosity and kindness on the part of a non-profit donation-funded rescue organization, when there are already so many other rescue dogs/vet bills to take care of.

I am hoping for the best: that there is no tumor, no surgery, no life-threatening disease, no need for longterm hardcore steroid meds (I remember what these did to Jazzy) and that Rocky will regain some vision. One thing I am sure of... he will be SO HAPPY to *see* us later this afternoon. I will post results tonight!

UPDATE (the next morning): The MRI results weren't ready yesterday afternoon, and I am so annoyed that I missed Dr. Stevenson's phonecall last night!!!! (I didn't hear my phone ring) Rocky also had a 'spinal tap' and those results will be in sometime today so I believe that Dr. Stevenson will be calling me again with the full diagnosis and what is to be done for treatment.

Rocky, on the other hand, was a bundle of hyped up energy last night. He was so full of life and... MUCUS! He is still very sneezy, sniffly, snorty and snorfle-y this morning. The vet tech told me that this would happen because he had tubes down his throat yesterday.


First post: The Rocky Story so far!

July 9th 2007 11:52 am
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Hi there

This is Lili, Rocky's current foster mom. I was going to start a Myspace page for this fella (as I had for Jazzy) but Myspace irritates me so I have decided to keep a diary HERE.

As some of you know, Rocky came to me about 3 weeks ago. Aside from being completely blind, Rocky is a normal, healthy, mellow, lovable, ultra-affectionate big bully-faced Boston boy who loves nothing more than sitting on your lap and lavishing you with sloppy kisses. Scratch his "magic spot" (just above his little tail - Yes! He has a cute tail!) and he will kiss you forever.

Recently I took Rocky to an opthamologist to have the cause of his blindness checked on. We wanted to rule out the possibility of SARDS (which is a hormone-related disease with irreversible blindness as a symptom) and thank goodness it's not that. We found out that Rocky has a severe case of OPTIC NEURITIS in his left eye - the optic nerves are so inflamed that both eyes are affected. It is sad that nothing had been done about this in the past 2-3 months that he has been blind, and the inflammation has been worsening over time. Instead, Rocky's owners abandoned him and gave him up to Boston Buddies where the poor guy has been shuffled around from foster home to foster home... (Not that this is a bad thing... any home is better than being boarded in a kennel...but imagine how hard it must be for a blind dog to have to keep adjusting to new environments!)

Thanks to Boston Buddies, tomorrow we will be taking Rocky to a specialist in Irvine for a MRI scan. When we know more about the source of his Optic Neuritis (and let's all pray that this isn't a brain tumor!!!) he will be treated with steroid medication and there is a chance that he will be able to SEE again! This is an exciting possibility.

Right now, Rocky can navigate via sound and smell but he still bumps into things along the way and needs help on steps. Sometimes he gets confused over where he is, loses direction and gets stuck in corners. I wince everytime he bumps his nose into something, or trips on a step. If we could restore even a tiny bit of vision, I am sure this would make a WORLD of difference to him.

Unfortunately, a MRI scan and treatment are very very costly. We're talking over a thousand dollars. If you would like to help Rocky out bymaking a small donation to Boston Buddies, we would really really appreciate it!!!! (More info

I will of course keep you all updated in this diary.

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