Posted by: arcticpackseppalas | August 6, 2016

No eyes, no problem. Leaky lymph duct, bit more of a problem.

Cam said I had to write a happy blog, as the last couple have been pretty sad.  Most of the time, life with dogs is very much fun and happy, but sometimes it is sad, stressful or overwhelming.  Especially when they have to leave us or when they are ill.  Dogs have a way of making the best of any situation and always seeing the positives.  I often wish i could be more like them in my outlook.  Anyway, under the instruction of husband, I will try my best to put a positive spin on this one!

It is now a little over a year since Betty Blind Dog lost her vision for good.  I was looking back through those cursed facebook memories a week or so ago and got to thinking about her journey and how we got to here.  If there is ever an example of ‘well, shit happens but lets just get on with it’, then Betty is it.   She is an absolute superstar in my opinion and I know people are possibly sick of hearing about her, but tough.  She is amazing and I will continue to shout it from the rooftops.   In the space of a year she has lost both eyes to glaucoma.  She has coped with two enucleation surgeries and having to adjust and adapt to life in the dark.  That in itself is often a huge undertaking for many dogs.  Not content with that, Betty has also gotten back into her routine including living outside during the day with a smaller group of other dogs.  Eating as normal with 12 other dogs, all fed together.  Playing, jumping on and off dog boxes, learning to free run off lead AND recall!  She has learned how to ‘map’ out new areas and she had re-integrated herself back into the pack even with those who are less than sympathetic to her blindness. (i’m looking at you monkey puppies!) The icing on the cake is that she still runs in harness.  She has ran a race blind, she has led a 10 dog team with her pal Vixen and she seems genuinely happy to be doing it.  The key word there is HAPPY.  She IS happy.  For a while last year I was quite sad about her losing her vision and wondered what life would become for her.   But Betty never seemed to be sad.  Yes, she was a little disorientated at first and a little wary, but each day she grew in confidence and had such a determination and desire to get back to ‘normal’ that we had little choice but to let her.  So you know, I look back at that facebook memory and at how well Betty is doing now and feel almost a sense of relief. Relief that she is actually ok without her sight and relief that we were finally rid of glaucoma for her and all the drops and meds and pain that went along with it. Although it took us a while to pluck up the courage to do it, we knew that night she went blind that she would lose that second eye and we would have it removed. Neither of us regret it. There is a sense of relief about that too. That we feel we did the right thing.  I still wish she didn’t have to lose her sight or her eyes, but the memory brought home just how little I worry or stress or feel upset about it now. We just don’t. It has long ceased to be something to worry or feel sad about.  I now feel there are far worse things could have happened to her. Something that would have cost her her life, not just her sight.  It has also been a very positive and interesting experience watching our other dogs adapt to having a blind dog around.  Some really do seem to realise she is different and have adjusted their behaviour accordingly.  Others either don’t notice or just don’t care, not sure which it is.  Mostly the older dogs have become more sensible around her, more tolerant.  The youngsters, not so much.  They still bounce off her and give her grief like they used to.  No empathy at all!  She sure is one happy, optimistic girl!

free running in the fields

free running in the fields

back from a in in lead with Vixen

back from a run in lead with Vixen


So, we move onto Ginger Joseph.  Since march this year, Joe has been accumulating fluid in his chest cavity.  Always the left side.  The first time he needed ‘draining’ the vet took off THREE litres of fluid.  Unbelievable.  Again, how stoic are these dogs? A day or so before he started breathing weird and we took him to the out of hours vet (why is it always out of hours?!) he had been off his food a little, otherwise he seemed normal.  We had bitches in season and they were right on the money so we put it down to that.  How wrong were we?  So, fast forward to August and after several xrays, fluid being drained (this has a big fancy name but I can never spell it) , CT scans, ultrasounds, blood work and shit load of money we are no further forward with regards to a cause or reason.  He has been diagnosed with a condition called chylothorax.  Basically, this is where lymph fluid or ‘chyle’ as it’s called leaks from the thoracic duct. The thoracic duct carries lymph fluid back into the chest where it is supposed to be circulated as normal and the good stuff reabsorbed back into the body.  This leaking is rather a major problem.  The fluid has nowhere to go and accumulates and presses on the lung, making it hard and painful for him to breathe.  The fluid itself is also irritating to the surface of the lungs, the walls of the chest and pretty much everything else in there. You may be thinking where is she going with a positive spin on this one, but there is one! Honest!  Due to all the diagnostics carried out by our own vets and the superb Aberdeen Veterinary Referrals, we have managed to rule out any really scary causes like cancer. Or a heart problem.   Of course there are no absolutes, but everything looks normal in there with regards to organs etc.  Infuriatingly, the vast majority of cases are idiopathic.  That means a cause is never found.  It can happen as a result of trauma to the chest and I am tending to think this is perhaps what happened while we were at work. Perhaps he slammed into one of his brothers a little too hard, at just the right angle tearing about the pen.  Anyway, whatever the cause it does just seem like some real bad, shitty luck.   There is a surgical option to try and fix the problem but it has pretty crappy odds of success.  But, given his age we are considering it.  It will take us a while to come up with the cash to go ahead with the surgery, so that will give us some time to see how Joe copes, how quickly he refills and how often he will need drained.  The surgery is pretty major and will involve him staying in hospital for a few nights afterwards.  I have to say I am really not comfortable with that! I hate leaving them at the vets during the day for surgeries never mind overnight,  but if we feel the surgery is in his best interests, then of course we will do it.  We could put him through the surgery though and it not work.  He would still need draining on a regular basis in that case anyway.  So it will be a hard decision to make.   For the time being we are trying to find him some level of exercise to keep him mentally happy but that he is able to cope with physically.  He has started back in harness for very, very short runs and we will just assess how he is breathing.  We are now armed with a stethoscope so can keep a better track of fluid build up and when to get him drained.  As is usually the case with Siberians, he is neither up nor down about it.  He actually trotted into the vets the night he had three litres removed.  These dogs are pretty remarkable with what they can and will cope with without giving many outward signs.   Of course the best possible outcome, but definitely the most unrealistic is that it just resolves itself.  Everyone keep all fingers and paws crossed and maybe, just maybe some magic might happen.


Joe with some of his brazillian bits.

Joe with some of his brazillian bits.

back in lead for a short run

back in lead for a short run

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