Banjo and I have the pleasure of introducing one of our regular readers, Tina of Kadja1, who is going to tell us a bit about what makes her dog, Buddy, so special. But it is also a cautionary tale about the importance of preventing heart worms in our canine friends.
–> We’d love to know what makes your dog so special too! If you’d like to write a guest post for Shyhound’s Not Just a Dog series, please contact me for more details.
• Name: Buddy
• Breed: Lab mix
• Age: 13
• Best tricks: catching chicken meatballs
• Most defining feature: white whiskers he’s getting on his handsome face
• Favourite game: fetch – but when he goes and gets the ball, then he wants us to chase him for it!
• Favourite walk: up and down the neighborhood
Buddy first came into our lives when my youngest son, Kevin, was about 11 years old. He saw a boy with a fishing rod pulling Buddy — with the hook sticking through the bottom of his chin. Buddy was yelping and in pain. Kevin knocked the boy down, broke the fishing rod and line and brought Buddy home.
We took Buddy straight to the vet because he was whimpering. The vet said he couldn’t have been more than 6-7 weeks old — and then the mailman maced him around 3 weeks later… I felt so bad for this dog, but part of me tried not to get attached because the Humane Society was full and we were not planning to keep a pet.
We ended up agreeing to foster him, but when nobody came to claim him and nobody adopted him, he became part of the family. He is a faithful friend and when he is finally gone, I will miss him and have no intention of taking on another animal because no other animal can replace him in my life. He is at an age now where these thoughts do cross my mind. Hopefully, I”ll have him around for a good long time and can enjoy him come running up to me and then doing a sit!, or speak!, or paw! for me to take — all the while wagging his tail.
When he became ill with heart worms recently, I received some flak for simply not having him put to sleep, but I couldn’t do that to him. I had the means to get him treated, so I did. He’s finished his treatment, but I have to take him back for a blood test next week. It is very important to keep the monthly treatments up for prevention for the simple fact that once the heart worms hatch, they invade the dog’s heart. Also, treating them after the fact is very expensive. I cashed in my retirement to get Buddy helped and it was close to $2000.00 so far. I share the information about the expenses because it only costs around $30-40 for a six months of preventative medicine.
Treating heart worms is invasive because the medicine used to kill the heart worms is toxic. The veterinarian usually prescribes Prednisone (a synthetic corticosteroid drug that is particularly effective as an immunosuppressant drug) as well as an anti-inflammatory to use as the worms are dying off. As the treatment kills the worms, they move into the dog’s lungs to die which can cause respiratory problems. This is why the veterinarians tell pet owners of pets with heart worms to make them rest and keep as still and quiet as possible, including not letting them even play outside: because of the effects on the respiratory system, allowing them to play can put stress on the heart which can lead to heart failure.
It is also important to note that once cats get them there is NO cure, so they have to be treated without fail each month to prevent their getting them. It is rare for cats to get them but it does happen. Left untreated, heart worms can lead to a slow and painful death. I cannot stress the importance of keeping the medicines up to date along with pet vaccinations.
The decision I had to make was whether to let nature take its course and eventually have Buddy put to sleep, or do what I know in my heart was the right thing to do. This dog has a spirit. This dog has a soul and was depending on me when he could depend on nobody else–just as my children at one time did. I had no choice but to do what I could to help him… Yes, I could have kept the money I had, but I would now be grieving miserably right for a pet that I have had for 13 years and love very much. I will never regret my decision. Buddy is doing much better now and his vet is amazed that he is so happy and healthy! To see him look up at me with so much love in return, take that leash in his mouth like he does and “take ME for a walk” is well worth every penny.
Banjo says Aroo!! Buddy, I haz a big glad dat yoo iz bettah now! Dem hartwurms is scareful! Fangs foh sharing yoh story wiv me. Nao abowt dem chiken meetbollz…