The Hardest Week So Far
There's an age old saying, "Expect the unexpected." I tend to live by "plan for the best, expect the worst." We tend to plan things very well. From making sure driving distances are reasonable between campgrounds, everything is in working order and if its not it is fixed promptly. We check the wind speeds before traveling with the trailer attached, make sure we'll check out on time and get to the next place by check in. We're ready for unexpected things like storms, mechanical failures/breakdowns, the previous tenet not being out of our spot yet, not doing laundry early enough. The one thing neither of us expected was to wake up one morning to Ace, our bulldog having a seizure.
At 11 and a half years old, Ace, to do, had be the healthiest bulldog. He had a bout with two tumors on his thyroid a year and a half ago but our wonderful vet at Old Farm Veterinary were able to remove them and Ace was back to begging to play fetch and wanting to go on endless walks to explore and make sure everyone who passes him acknowledges him with some pets. For as long as I've know Ace, this was his personality. One of the happiest dogs I have ever known.
On the morning we are set to move from Eastern Ohio to Sandusky, Ohio, Ryne wakes to the noises of his dog seizing. Trying to comfort his dog who is in a daze and uncontrollably shaking. The moments after the seizure, Ace is still in his daze but completely restless, running up and down the trailer while constantly trying to clear him mouth of white foam. Within minutes we are rushing to the closest emergency vet in the area. We call on the road to let them know we're on our way and thankfully, when we get there, he's taken in immediately. Unfortunately, this emergency vet is only only when the other local vets are closed. We got in around 7am, yet they close at 8am. They do all that they can and recommend we go to the MedVet in Akron, Ohio since they have a neurologist on staff there. The frantic morning continues.
We head straight for Akron immediately. It's about an hour away. The whole ride there, Ace was having facial twitches and still breathing rather heavily. They technicians come running over, ask whats going on and the woman at the front desk is asking us to fill out paperwork. We try to give everyone as much information and understanding that we have and they take Ace in back. After some time, they take us into one of their exam rooms. Another technicians comes in asking us all sorts of questions about Ace's history and what's been going on. We're left alone again for some time and then a vet comes in. She told us he is running a fever so they're trying to cool him down, they have him on anti-seizure meds to control those and begin talking about our next steps. The neurologist isn't in until Monday. An MRI is recommended to see what's going on in his brain. Both MedVet's so far think it is in his brain due to all the symptoms, a brain tumor or a lesion.
My least favorite thing about these emergency veterinary hospitals is how they seem more focused on money first, your pet second. And since they are the emergency vet, they charge on a premium. Everything is more expensive, needs to be paid at time of service, and they give off this vibe that if you aren't willing to pay these fees, you don't really care about your pet. We are trying to do everything we can for Ace. Since this location is 24 hours, he'll have 24 hour watch. He stays there for the weekend getting the best care he can get.
Over the weekend, they started to ween him off the seizure medication. It didn't work the first time around. Thankfully, when they tried again later that day, it did.
The MRI costs around $6,000, not to mention how he'll have to be put under anesthesia which at his age and condition is a danger in itself. Despite it would be able to give definitive answers, its out of the question.
Tuesday evening we're finally able to see him. He was walking on his own which was wonderful to see. His breathing was still as heavy as its been. We got to spend time with him. Gave him a good brushing. So much fur came off of him, Ryne made a fur ball the size of Tungsten's head. In the end, the technician said they aren't doing much there right now that we can't do at home and can take him home. I was thrilled. He needed to be on an anti-seizure medicine as well as an antibiotic and steroids (for swelling).
I stayed up with him that night to make sure he'll be okay. While, he was able to sleep a little bit on the car ride home, he was not able to relax when we got home. He was still breathing very heavily. His tongue was drooped out the whole time. He was in a constant state of drool. 2am comes around, we went outside. He drank a ton of water over the next hour. 3am he's due for his seizure med. It knocks him out so much. We went out again at 4am and he couldn't stand. When I picked him up, he had very labored breaths. I woke Ryne up, I didn't know what to do. It seemed like he took a turn for the worse and I didn't know why or what happened. He's burning up again, so we put ice packs on him. Ryne calls MedVet to ask for advice. If his temperature doesn't go down by 7, we should take him to see a doctor. We can't find out thermometer. Ryne goes out on a hunt for one. We get it down but not enough and not consistently.
At 8am we decide to take him to the vet that is right across the street from our campground. They open at 8 but unfortunately their doctor doesn't come in until 9am. He stays at the vet so they can cool him down and go back just before 10am. He's said he seems fine. adjusting to the meds and everything that just happened. He's doesn't have much experience with Keppra, the anti-seizure medicine but after doing research on his own, his lethargy is most definitely a side effect of the drug. He suggests Ace stays there the rest of the day so they can monitor him and he and we can get some rest.
4pm rolls around and Ryne picks him up. We try to get him to eat some wet food which he does, at least a little. The cycle continues. Heavy breathing, lot of drinking, a little sleep. He doesn't move much on his own either. These medications are taking so much out of him. He's not himself.
The next morning Ryne find him unmoved from the night before but with foam again around his mouth. We rush back to MedVet in Akron. It's about an hour and twenty minute drive away but with all that's happened and their knowledge already with what's going on, we're in the car again.
This time, we were not so lucky. About 20 minutes left in the drive, there's no more heavy breathing. I jump into the back seat but there's no response. I shine light into his eyes and there's no response. Ryne calls MedVet again giving them out ETA saying we'll need technicians available immediately.
Thankfully they are there. They check for a pulse but don't find one. We tried everything we could, Ryne's fought so hard for Ace but we were unable to save him. They brought us all into they're hospice room where we were able to say goodbye.
It never gets any easier.
Ace was the best. He had such a wonderful personality. He was silly and playful. Loved his toys, to play fetch or spend hours just sucking on one. Ace brought so much joy to so many people and befriended everyone he met. It's hard not to look at that face and not smile while saying. "Oh my gosh! How cute is he?!" He got to travel so much, and live full time in three different states. He was with Ryne since he was just 5 weeks old. 11 and a half years they were together. There is so much love between these two. So many laughs, loves and experiences. We'll miss you forever, Ace.