Ruger - Jan 22/'06 - Aug 12, '07
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Thread: Ruger - Jan 22/'06 - Aug 12, '07

  1. #1
    pika42 is offline Junior Member
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    DefaultRuger - Jan 22/'06 - Aug 12, '07

    After a very short three and a half years, my very best friend passed away. I was awaken in the wee hours on Sunday morning by my 12yr old son who told me something was wrong. Ruger was by the front door coughing and trying to expel something - or so it seemed. He seemed to settle after a few minutes and laid down. I sat up and watched him for about 30 minutes thinking that whatever was bugging him had passed. I went back to bed - something I'll regret forever. That morning I woke up late but immediatly went to check on Ruger as he was not at the foot of our bed or on top of Nick's bed. I found him by the front door. He was very slow to get moving to go outside. And actually could not make it all the way back to the house after he finished releiving himself. I helped him to struggle back to the front door where I let him lay outside. I called my wife, and explained to her what just happened and we had better contact a vet ASAP, as something was definately wrong.

    After about 90min one of the vets, who was paged, got back to us. I explainded Ruger's symptons of being very lethargic, weak, and had rapid somewhat shallow breathing. He asked a few standard questions and I gave more details such as the early morning coughing episode. He said it was to early to be thinking of exploritory surgery and we should just monitor him. NOT the answer I wanted! We called the emergency vet clinic in downtown Edmonton. I explained it again. They said to bring him in right away. We quickly made the 45 min trip into the city. There, a vet quickly checked him and said he was in shock and they would do an xray. They whisked him away. Now, we were going into our own shock as it was hard to accept what was happening and it all seemed surreal. A short time later Another vet called us in and explained that his GI tract was fine but he had a slightly enlarged heart, a heart murmor, and worst of all a large amount of fluid building up in his lungs. They explained how they needed to run tests, get him on various IV's, in order to find what was causing this so they could treat it. They asked us about rat poisin, electrical shock, or an infection. He didn't have signs or symptons of the latter two. They said it would be about 3hrs before they would know what to do and for any medicine to take effect. They suggested we run home to see if we could find someting he may have gotten into. We rushed home.

    After about 15min at home ( so thats about an hour total ) we got a call from the vet. Ruger had crashed. They revived him, and stated we better get back. This time we brougt the kids as I had the most gut wrenching awful feeling that this may not turn out well. By the time we got back it was explained to us that he was in a very bad state. They couldnt' stop the build up of fluid. He was on basic life support. They would try one more thing and if in 15 min it didn't work we had to make that awful decison. It wasn't even 10 min and the vet said he wasn't going to make it. We fell apart. So, into the critical care room we go where saw our beloved friend hooked up to countless tubes and hoses. They lifted him once more to expel more fluid from his chest. We all cowered over him, holding and trying to comfort him. After a long time, through a flood of tears and sobs I looked up at the vet and gave him the nod to go ahead and inject the lethal dose of sedative into his IV........

    It was the most horrible thing I have ever went though in my entire life. I sobbed like a man who had just lost his child.
    It all seemed surreal. They brought Ruger into a special room where we could spend as much time as we wanted without all the medical gear. He was so peaceful.... "see you at the Rainbow Bridge, my friend.", into his ear, I whispered.

    After a few days I felt I needed to come back to this site. The last time I spent any amount of time here was when Ruger was puppy and just previous to that, when we were greiving over the loss of Kyser, our choc lab of only 4yrs. I read Lab Dad's piece on greiving. Thats as far as I got. It hurt to much. My wife and I decided we needed to get away from the house so we packed up our gear and headed for the Rockies where we backpacked for 4 days. Being deep into rugged wilderness always seems to help me deal with whatever I'm struggling with in my life. During the trip I mentioned to my wife that maybe we should do it differently this time. Instead of waiting for the pain to subside before thinking of bringing another pup into our lives we should "jump back in saddle again, rather quickly". She agreed. I think she knew that if I had something good to focus on I could more easily move on. With that, we contacted Rugers breeder. Not to ask about pups but to tell Ruger's story. She mentioned she would have pups in the late fall - BUT , just so happened to have a 13month old boy that was supposed to be her next stud but had unexplainably ended up with elbow dysplasia and had to placed in a home. Someone had taken him but returned him a couple months later because they went through a divorce and couldn't care for him let alone deal with his elbow. I saw his bio online. He was so handsome and my wife agreed. She said I should go right out to the kennel and meet him. I was skeptical at first. Not because of what he would be like but of my feelings and if I was able to even bond with a strange lab let alone such an older pup.

    After watching him romp out of the kennel, seeing him limp, and chatting with the breeder, It was obvious there would be a financial burdon. However, after some up close and personal time with him I held his head close, looked into his eyes and whispered, " do you think you could be my friend?". He stared at me, calmly....

    Yesterday I brought home a northwood maple we had on reserve at local greenhouse. And just as polark did, we planted a tree in Ruger's honor and sprinkled some of his ashes around the roots. The remainder will go into an urn made by my father. ...As we worked, "Luke" layed in the shade provided by Ruger's stately maple tree.

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    What would life be like if my best friend was a human and not a Lab...

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  3. #2
    stlabs is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Ruger - Jan 22/'06 - Aug 12, '07

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Your story about Ruger is so sad and really scary for the other lab owners (including myself). Did you ever find out what caused his illness?

    If you need any advice about elbow dysplasia, let me know. Our 5 year old lab has it and we are now very well acquainted with her orthopedic surgeon (unfortunately), so I feel like a pro regarding treatment options etc.


  4. #3
    pika42 is offline Junior Member
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    DefaultRe: Ruger - Jan 22/'06 - Aug 12, '07

    Unfortunately we don't have complete closure as the vets never did have an answer. No autopsy was offered and since we didn't have insurance ( we will never let it run out again!!! ) and the emergency bill was into the thousands we didn't push the issue. Our best guess and that offered by the vets, is some sort of poisin.

    I have to run into the city but I definately would like to pick your brain about elbow dysplasia. I will try to post some questions tonight. Thanks very much.
    What would life be like if my best friend was a human and not a Lab...

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    pika42 is offline Junior Member
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    DefaultRe: Ruger - Jan 22/'06 - Aug 12, '07



    If you need any advice about elbow dysplasia, let me know. Our 5 year old lab has it and we are now very well acquainted with her orthopedic surgeon (unfortunately), so I feel like a pro regarding treatment options etc.


    [/quote]

    Luke was graded by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. He has grade 11 elbow dysplasia and degenerative joint disease in his right elbow. He generally limps the majority of the time. I don't encourage him to run. We have a one hour brisk walk on moderately level, soft ground and one 30 minute relaxed walk in the evenig. He doesn't seem to be much into playing like most pups his age age and I don't encourage him to much in the house. Unfortunately he has to walk down some stairs for us to go outside to the yard or to the bathroom area. I don't think he has done much stair climbing as he does it in a funny way - more like a hop.

    I have been in contact with a general vet who will consult with their orthopedic specialist and then get back to me. They may need more xrays and will need to do a more detailed consultation in order to come up with a plan.

    I think my biggest concerns are wether the arthritis will totally debilitate him in the not so future. I think this surgeon can fix his dysplasia. I'm told he is quite good and won't even try if he thinks the results won't be positive. I don't ever expect him to be able to run like average labs but I would find it hard to see my friend in pain and not be able to the things most dogs love to do.

    What would life be like if my best friend was a human and not a Lab...

  7. #5
    stlabs is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Ruger - Jan 22/'06 - Aug 12, '07

    Our 5 year old was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia about two years ago. Her elbow joints are rubbing together and it causes bone fragments to break off and then irritate the joint and cartilage further. She had arthroscopic surgery last year to remove the bone fragments and they shaved down the bone a little where it was rubbing. They didn't take enough off, so she needs another arthroscopic surgery to shave down the parts where the bones are rubbing more aggressively. My ortho surgeon thinks that will give her more relief. Removing the fragments gave quite a bit of relief for about 9 months.

    Some things to consider: (1) Make sure to keep your dog lean. It's very important because carrying even an extra couple pounds can be really damaging on the joints. After our dog was diagnosed, we dropped her weight by about 7 pounds and it made a big difference (she was a little chunky). (2) Is your dog on any NSAIDs? NSAIDs can make a HUGE difference - pronounced limping to no limping at all. We recently switched from Rimadyl to Metacam. Our dog is doing better on Metacam and it provides her a great deal of relief. There is some risk of kidney or liver failure on NSAIDs, but we have our lab's kidney and liver function checked every six months and have decided it's worth the risk. So far, she's not having any problems. Our dog does run and play and when she's on NSAIDs only has a slight limp, so I think it is definitely a worthwhile option to think about. (3) Talk to your vet about putting him on a glucosamine/chrondoitin supplement. We use human grade and it's fairly cheap. (4) You may want to talk to your vet about trying an Adequin series. This is a series of injections. There is a loading dose for 8 weeks and then maintenance dose. It didn't work for us but some dogs have great benefit from it. You'll probably know within a few weeks whether it's going to work or not. I've also heard of some folks that have had great results with hyaluronic acid injections. We haven't tried those. (5) Make sure your dog gets enough exercise. Low impact exercise like swimming helps. (6) Switching your dog to a grain free diet sometimes helps with arthritis too.

    With regard to surgical options, I would not let anyone do traditional surgery on an elbow. I would only allow arthroscopic surgery due to the potential for damage. Also, I would only use an ortho surgeon who is board certified in ortho surgery. Luckily, we have many here in Houston that are board certified. Unfortunately, there is no cure for ED. If anyone tells you they can cure you dog's ED, run away quickly because no responsible vet or surgeon would tell you this. They can provide relief (sometimes a lot of relief) but there is no cure. It's just something that you and your dog have to live with. Our ortho surgeon said that they're starting to do elbow replacements now, but they're not getting the results yet that they want. Hopefully, they will make great strides in that in the next few years. They're also starting some new procedure where they go in and break the arm bone and re-balance it so that the dog is not putting weight on the wrong part of the elbow joint - my understanding is it's something like the TPLO surgery that is currently done on the knees. This is brand new, but it holds promise too. Hopefully, they'll come up with a good solution soon.

    If your dog isn't already neutered, you should have him neutered right away. ED is an inherited condition and, as I'm sure you realize, it would be cruelly unfair to pass this horrible condition on to offspring.

    Let me know if you have any questions or need any other advice.

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    polark13 is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Ruger - Jan 22/'06 - Aug 12, '07

    I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of Ruger - it's awful I know.
    Just know that lots of people are sending warm thoughts towards you and your family through this difficult time.

    Kolin
    <br />Ellis (brown) &amp; Yukon (yellow) - Sadly, we helped Ellis &quot;move along&quot; on Feb 22, 2007 at age 15 1/2 - and Yukon died suddenly on Feb 1st, 2006 - 4 days before his 11th birthday.&nbsp; We are devestated.

  9. #7
    Felix Guest

    DefaultRe: Ruger - Jan 22/'06 - Aug 12, '07

    I'am so sorry for loss of Ruger .. He was one awesom dog to see!

    So, run free in the sky Ruger !!

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    BeandMe is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Ruger - Jan 22/'06 - Aug 12, '07

    I am so very sorry for the tragic loss of your beautiful friend Ruger. :'( :'( Your story follows a similar line to mine and I can deeply sympathise. Wishing you all the very best for a happy, happy life with Luke and the tree you have planted in Ruger's memory will be a living memorial to him.

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