Missing Melody

March 24, 1994 - Jan 3, 2005

It was love at first sight.

She came out of her airline crate absolutely sparkling, how could anyone resist this puppy??

A friend drove me 2 ½ hours to Edmonton to pick her up from the airport as the flights from Nashville to Calgary didn't coordinate with cargo being open. We drove back the same night and I was up until 4am admiring her with my husband. The next day I had to work and it just broke my heart to hear her crying as I left.

She was purchased as a show and breeding prospect but that didn't happen. Her ears were pretty much bare as a puppy, when she turned 6 months old her fuzzy puppy coat fell out and no replacement grew in. She had color dilution alopecia, which simply means that the color blue being a dilute of black, also dilutes the amount of hair. In her case she was bare on her head, back, tail, and legs where she was blue, the tan and cream points always had hair.

She also had hip displasia, the x-ray of her hip showed the ball didn't fit into the socket, and that was why she was skipping around the house. Both of her knees luxated also.

I learned to drive in an older Toyota, and the Chihuahuas always came along for car rides once I was confident. One of our favorite activities was going for a car ride, and birthdays were celebrated by going to the drive thrus, oh, the smells and the anticipation!!! It was also exciting to go to the grocery store as I would get a single slice of turkey from the deli and split it between Carlos and Melody when I returned.

I was bothered by her skipping around the house, we knew she had a hip problem and also her knees were problematic. It became so bad that I asked to have her knees operated on, one at a time. That was something that I wish I hadn't done. I drove her home in her half crate, beside me on the passenger seat, and every bump I felt as much as she. She had pain meds, but it was still uncomfortable and more painful than I had imagined it would be. She slept between my husband and I in her half crate, covered up by our blanket we all three shared. The worst thing was that the knee surgery didn't work to alleviate her skipping at all. The other knee still luxated, and her hip was always bad. I decided not to have the other knee done.

January 14th 1998 she was diagnosed with Addison's Disease. I cannot thank the emergency vet, Dr. Peter Brassel enough for saving her life. The Addison's Disease was brought on by a combination of many stressful events - the recent knee surgery, us packing up to move, the events leading up to our moving!

Melody got a borzoi puppy May 1998, and that did prove to be very stressful for her. I was this close to returning the puppy, but an increase in Florinef helped and the puppy stayed. Other puppies joining our family, and foster dogs were accepted with no problems.

Eventually we switched from Florinef to DOCP. That brought back the youthful behaviour that I knew she still had. Because she was so small, the cost was about the same as Florinef, and we were able to reduce her prednisone eventually to ½ mg per day.

We had several vets over the years, and finally happened upon a wonderful veterinarian, Dr. Schlessinger, at Landing Animal Clinic in Calgary. The right vet really makes the difference. He was always available to me for questions, and provided Melody with excellent care.

An ultrasound was done of her heart in 2001, as she was coughing. At that time it was determined that her heart was enlarged and pressing on her trachea. She was put on Enacard (a bit tricky as heart medications can affect electrolytes).

The final move for Melody was in Oct 2002 to Regina, SK. This city doesn't have a 24 hour vet clinic, but a 900 number that you would call and a vet would meet you at their vet clinic. One of the reasons I chose the house I did was that it was closest to the city, with her in mind.

December 13 2004 we had testing done on Melody, she had x-rays and an ultrasound done, the results were sent to NY, and also to Saskatoon University, with no conclusive opinions of how to make her life better. The x-rays showed her heart was enlarged and pushed her trachea out of shape, around her heart, and the trachea's opening to the lungs was significantly reduced. A normal trachea is pretty much a straight line from the mouth to the lungs.

She had lost a lot of weight also (for her) and her spine was very obvious. The vet called it "loss of muscle mass" and I accepted that. The blood tests were fine, other than being anemic and a high white blood cell count, attributed to her teeth. We put her on antibiotics for 2 weeks, and I had vit B capsules filled with stinky! Vit B paste.

Jan 3 2005. I went to work as normal that day, came home, had dinner and brought Melody onto the couch with me. She was not interested in the cheese crunchy I placed in front of her, and I thought I'd get her more pred in a bit. She began to cough, a cough I'd never heard before and she lost consciousness. She was still breathing faintly, and I called the 900 number and we arranged to meet the vet on call at a clinic in Regina. My husband drove as fast as was possible on the highway, and through the city, through red lights and even passing a car using the oncoming traffic lane as there was so much snow on the roads that the two lanes were reduced to one.

Unfortunately we were too late. She had stopped breathing by the time we got to the clinic. The on call vet tried to revive her, but my little girl had left us…

Every day with her was a gift since her diagnosis. Every morning I didn't know what to expect, would she still be alive? Such is the life with an Addisonian dog and the mentality of an Addisonian dog owner! I knew it was coming, it just is too soon. Melody didn't die of Addison's, the on call vet said that her coughing (and the symptoms I'd described) sounded like a cardiac event.

We didn't get an autopsy done, it wouldn't have changed anything.

Melody's Rememberance Book

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