July – that’s it…half of 2009 is OVER

July was the month that saw Raven compete in her last trial ever. At the Cloverdale trial she had a play in both the Masters Jumping and Masters Agility class and she looked good. We didn’t get a clear – I think in the back of my mind I had this feeling that this would be her last trial and that I didn’t want to put any pressure on her to get her to go superfast or turn tightly so my handling wasn’t at the usual standard. But the videos show that she did indeed have a ball and was still looking free and happy and running her contacts like usual plus she kept all her bars up (knocked one poorly handled rear cross in MJ) and never flagged or looked tired.

I just knew with the nodes being the size they were, with nothing left but oral chemotherapy treatments to us, largely untried treatment as well that had so far shown little effect on the progress of the disease, that she wasn’t going to have the energy for agility much longer.

I remember feeling really positive that day though – because she had the previous week been administered a fairly high dose of the chemo drug Lomustine (orally but I had to take her into the clinic for this) and I’d been on edge all week watching her for signs of her being one of those ten percent of dogs who get abdominal problems from it. The trial was on Sunday the 5th of July, she ran around looking happy as anything and it had been at least seven days since the treatment. I started school holidays that week and for that I will always be grateful because I honestly thought I had a dead dog on my hands the next morning. I don’t even want to think about what I could have come home to if I had been working. Raven had thrown up (or had an accident with her bowels) during the night and was a little quiet when I let her out that morning. I was just about to email Ken that morning to make an appointment to see him when Raven stood up on my bed (she sleeps up there during the day) as though she wanted to get down but just looked at the floor like it was some vast chasm that she had to leap. I got up to help her down and when I put her on the floor she just took two staggering steps before she collapsed and went all stiff, eyes totally glazing over. Needless to say I just grabbed keys and scooped her up and had her down the local Vet West within five minutes – she seemed to come to a little bit on the drive over but I could tell she was still completely out of it by the time we arrived. Her temperature was 41.5 degrees! Normal is about 37.5 to 38.5.

The vet was shocked by it and I was just thinking how can her brain not be fried at this rate? They put her on a drip immediately and after taking bloods then started IV antibiotics, a combination of three different ones that were the maximum triple attack they could use. A combination of Clavulox, Baytril and one other whose name escapes me right now. She responded quite well to that and her temp came down – but her neutrophils had crashed significantly – sitting at 0.5 and that was a concern the ABs can only do their job if they have some sort of immune system to support! She had a stomach infection of some sort and the danger was that it could possibly turn into septicaemia. It was a highly stressful day and I was not confident when I went to pick her up that she was fully stabilised. I picked her back up around 6.30pm and by that stage they had gotten two doses of IV ABs into her. I was given tablets to take home as well. When I picked her up her temp was 38.5…by about 9pm that night it was 39.5 and I was getting concerned.

By 11pm when her temp hit 40.5 I called it and took her into Murdoch Emergency. We waited a long time to see the Vet and he took blood to check her neutrophils and basically they were still sitting at 0.4. As he said all he would do would put her on a drip but with the way her immune system was compromised he said if it was his dog he wouldn’t want her around this many ill dogs. So I took her home and was relieved to see that her temp eventually came down again. What then started was a succession of four day visits to Vet West to get a dose of IV ABs into her each day. It was a long week. And not one I’d recommend for anyone going on holidays or at any time of the year really. Clearly the Lomustine was going to cause some issues for her and the effect on the nodes had been very short lived.

I didn’t take her back to see Ken till the next month because most of July was taken up with just making sure she bounced back from the near death experience and that her immune system got a chance to fight back and stabilise her neutrophil count. In the meantime Spryte FINALLY obliged us and came in season at the end of July. So we bundled her off to South Australia – where she was met in Adelaide by breeder Lyn Harrison of Tullacrest Kennels to go and spend some quality time in Lewiston with a young male Border Collie who goes by the name of ‘Liam’ but is also known as Ch Tullacrest The Ice Man. She apparently was an absolute tart who was more than ready for him and they had a romantic weekend together.

Ha! I kind of suspected she might have been that sort of girl. She’s never been above using her looks to get her way with Cypher – one sashay of her hips in front of him and he drops whatever toy he’s holding and gets this rather lustily excited look on his face. In the meantime she’s swiftly and stealthily moved in and taken whatever toy he had been so enamoured of seconds earlier. And they say dogs don’t do reasoning. I tell you this little tart can think about five steps ahead to getting what she wants. Intelligent, manipulative, sneaky and adorable looking – it’s a fairly evil combination. I think her name should have been Lilith. And so now we wait four weeks to get her ultrasounded. Below are a couple of shots of Liam – the boy she clearly approved of.