Pet-Peeves: Chewing particularly when frustrated or bored.
Favorite Toy: Nylabones all the way!
Favorite Food: Tuna
Favorite Walk: Trips to the lake
Best Tricks: Staying happy and active despite being so incredibly sick.
Arrival Story: I found out there was a no kill animal shelter 10 miles from my home. So I went there to see how I might be able to contribute. I brought my dog Patch with me along with some photographs of when I first found him (see Patch's profile) and showed them to Joe, the owner of the shelter. He was glad to have me as a volunteer. I told Joe I would be willing to treat any of the dogs that have mange. The first dog he showed me was called Seven. Joe said he had a hip problem that affected the use of his back legs.
As soon as I saw him I determined Seven would be my first priority. You could tell this dog had been through God only knows what. Mange is fairly easy to get under control but Seven had oozing bloody wounds on his back (see photo below - also see video: http://www.youtube.com/profile?use r=sevenheven7) that I wanted to attend to immediately. He looked so pathetic dragging his feet around like he was. I found out he got the name "Seven" because he was found dragging himself around in front of a 7-11 in a rough area of town where people were just coming and going all around him. I can't even imagine how people could have ignored him in the condition he was in when he was found. But fortunately someone took an interest and he ended up at the shelter where he stayed for the next 2 years until I came along.
When I first met Seven he was being kept in an air conditioned building with a doggy door allowing him to go to an outside pen area. He had nice cushy pads on the floor of his inside area like those you see in a gymnasium. They were clearly trying to make Seven as comfortable as he could be at the shelter. The very first thing I did was thoroughly clean his area and all the other dog's pens in the building so that Seven would have absolutely as clean a home as possible.
Seven's initial treatments consisted of giving him a shampoo with Oxydex to clean off the blood and other stuff that were draining from his wounds. I then sponged an Epsom salt solution on his wounds for about ten minutes and then finally I applied triple antibiotic ointment to the wounds. I later learned the Epsom salt treatment was not a good idea. It would cause the wounds to close when actually they needed to drain. But he still began to improve almost immediately.
Joe asked if I thought it would help if Seven went back to the vet. I was all for it. I figured it would be good to get an update on his condition. Seven had been to the vet several times before I started working with him but he had not improved much. At that time the shelter had close to 250 dogs. There are only so many workers and volunteers to take care of the many daily tasks. Most volunteers only come on Saturday. It really wasn't possible to give Seven all the individual attention he needed on a daily basis so he languished. Joe was very glad to see that change when I took a personal interest in his well-being.
The vet took x-rays, blood tests and also removed some drain tubes that had been inserted at an earlier date. They also prescribed amoxicillan pills. The blood test was mostly normal with a slightly high white blood cell count. The x-rays showed malformations in 3 vertebrae around his hip area. Two of the vertebrae had fused I took as a good sign but the third looked like it was missing bone tissue and you could see that it was possibly putting pressure on his spinal cord.
The vet wasn't really sure of Seven's condition from reading the x-rays. I asked if it was possible to know FOR SURE and she said yes but that it would take more detailed scans. I told Joe and he got into contact with someone who could take CT scans at a discount to the shelter and so we got that done.
It took awhile for the results to come back on the scans. And the news wasn't good. The doctor who interpreted the scans said it was "most likely" osteosarcoma which is bone cancer and is fatal. Seven would only have about 3-6 months to live. But that was quickly ruled out because Seven was IMPROVING. The words "most likely osteosarcoma" were the key because that was the most common of the two possible diagnoses.
Seven had been seen by a number of vets over time. I set out to round up all Seven's vet records. At one vet I found out he'd been treated for E. Coli. Another vet that had worked with him said they were convinced he had osteomylytis which is an infection of the bone rather than a cancer. They had the same doubts I had about osteosarcoma. I did some research and found that E. Coli is one of the causes of osteomylytis.
So it was settled that it was osteomylytis and Seven did not appear to be dying. He had E. Coli early on but it went undetected at first because everyone was looking for the cause of the paralysis. It was only later they discovered the E. Coli. Because Seven was seeing different vets no one connected the dots. A very good argument to find one good vet and stick with them.
The wounds Seven had closed and he became a very active puppy. He got stronger by the day and the difference was amazing. He was nothing like he was when I first met him. He didn't drag his feet anymore. But I found over time the infection would flare up. Sometimes he would start dragging his feet again. He had to be watched closely for any signs of deterioration. The treatment was always a strong course of antibiotics. Doxycycline was particularly effective when he would start dragging his feet.
My original plan was to volunteer at the shelter one or two days a week but because of Seven I ended up going there every day for about 6 days straight. I knew I couldn't keep that up. I also knew Seven needed daily care. So I decided to take Seven home where I could give him the special attention he needed. It really helped Seven to have a big yard to run around in. I also took him daily to the lake for long walks and he became tireless. He actually became TOO active and I had to restrict his running because it was causing his spinal issues to flare up.
My original plan was not to keep Seven. After a month or so at our house he was well enough to go back to the shelter. I was concerned about Seven getting injured by my other dog Patch. Patch could be too rambunctious and I was afraid of him slamming into Seven and shattering his already damaged spine. It was not easy keeping the two of them apart. So I took Seven back to the shelter. When I pulled into the shelter Seven started trembling immediately which was unsettling to say the least. I was upset having to leave him there and Joe could see it. Joe put him in a bigger pen than he had been in before and it seemed like Seven would be OK.
I continued to visit him weekly. But he would absolutely start screaming when I went to leave. The second week I came to visit him his side was swollen up and so we rushed him to the vet. He stayed for several days and it turned out to be an abscess on his side that started draining. It was the same thing he had when I first met him. So I took him home again and he quickly began to heal. I vowed he would never return to the shelter. Over time I figured out how to keep Seven and Patch separate. It wasn't easy but it worked.
As for Seven himself, I can't begin to tell you what a sweet dog he was. He was so gentle and quiet which were very endearing personality traits. He didn't have an aggressive bone in his body. He was very affectionate and would hop excitedly on his front paws when you came around. He had all kinds of character in his face. He would scrunch up his forehead and tilts his ears constantly. And he has this swaggering walk that was very unique. He was such a cute looking dog.
I gave him all the Science Diet he could eat to "fatten" him up. He had a good healthy appetite and he quickly gained weight to the point that I had to start dieting him back down. I also started giving him all sorts of vitamins and herbs which reduced the number of trips that he had to take to the vet. In the beginning he would make at least 2 trips to the vet a month. Sometimes it was several trips a week. But after I started him on the vitamins he could go for over a year at a time without the need for a vet. Still I would have to give him antibiotics from time to time when he would deteriorate. Usually he would snap back after about 2 weeks. If he continued to decline that's when I'd take him to the vet.
He loved to play and it became a constant thing with him. He would run and "attack" his toys and he particularly liked to play "tug-o-war" with his Nylabones. He was not very strong or fast so you had to make him "feel" like he was stronger and faster than you are to boost his confidence. He couldn't handle any rough play as much as he may act like he could. He liked to nibble on you though. He was a big nibbler! He also loved to roll around on his back and he made a funny sort of grunting sound when he did it. I was talking to someone on the phone once when he was doing that and it was cracking them up. He could be a little trouble-maker though. I had to keep an eye on him because he would chew on things at floor level including furniture. Over time he left more of a "mark" around the house than I would have cared for.
After he had been with us for about 2 and a half years I began to see that he was slowly deteriorating. The idea was always to slow down the rate of deterioration. The infection in his spine was never going to heal. And eventually it was going to deteriorate to the point where he could no longer walk. The vitamins no longer seemed to be helping him. Even antibiotics barely helped. At one point he lost the ability to walk for a few days and was dragging himself around just like when he was first found at the 7-11. I didn't see it because I was out of town. But I was very concerned about his future.
Right around the 3 year mark he started drinking literally gallons of water per day and urinating constantly. It turned out to be kidney failure. He was doing very well up until the last 24 hours although he breathing was becoming increasingly labored. He was even doing things like rolling on his back which he loved to do so much. But he couldn't eat. If he did eat he couldn't hold it down. Finally he just dropped off a cliff in the middle of the night and we had to take him in to be euthanized. It goes without saying he's sorely missed. There will never be another Seven.
I posted a tribute video on youtube: