December 28, 2011

Can you help please? - Rizzo's Journey

Today's blog is not my usual posting, but something that is very near and dear to me, please take a read below.

Rizzo never asked for much, my beloved Border Collie had to be put down December 14, 2011 after about 10 weeks of being diagnosed with a brain tumor. For those that have pets, it is like we become family when it comes to our pets and doing what is best for them.

A little about Rizzo

I met Rizzo when my ex-boyfriend and I were together.  To meet Rizzo you would see him happily half run/half skip to meet you. He was always happy, wagging his tail and even if he wasn't he never showed you. He was always ready to play, always had a stick or squeaky toy ready to toss at you. He just loved people THAT much. He was also vocal, if you played tug of war with him, you were sure to get a rise out of him, where by he would sound like he was being hurt to the worst degree imaginable, then if you let the object go, he would frolic and run around all over the yard, he would come to you, toy in mouth and I could always say "are you going to give it to me Rizzie"  and he would run right by sometimes and I always said "oooooh ok, maybe later lol"

One day, I went to the "farm" to see the dogs, as my ex's mom was very ill and in hospital. There were neighbors who would go over and drop bags of dog food on the ground and after a period of time not just these two would have food, but soon surrounding stray dogs, coyotes, the neighbor's dogs all would show up; Rizzo looked terrible, he had weeping eyes, he had an abscessed wound on his jowl, and very underweight. But the thing I couldn't get out my head was his fur, it was like he didn't have any. Well I decided enough was enough and I was taking him home, much to the dismay of my ex., he wanted to put him down. I said no, he is only 4 years old and has so much life to give! 

From that day forward, I never looked back!

When I rescued Rizzo, this is what he looked like

When I made this choice, I took him to the vet right away. Rizzo was not in good shape, he had pneumonia, an abscessed jowl, underweight, and he was down to his last coat layer what is called "guard rail". It took many weeks of antibiotics, milk baths (medicine given by the vet), brushing his coat every day, he could only go down 3 stairs and out to go to the bathroom and then back inside. But through it all he NEVER gave up. 

I learned that during this time, Rizzo had a thyroid problem, which did contribute to his coat issue. So we made sure to put him on the proper medication and in time he started to feel a lot better. However, given how much had gone through in a short period of time, it would take him up to a good year or more before his lungs would be stronger than they were at that time.

As life went on, and so did the years, Rizzo flourished. His coat returned to the full texture it was meant to be. His zest for life was even stronger than before, and he had the joys of other dogs as we had just had a litter of pups (this is where Blaze came in).

Fast forward to where we are now.... 

Even though Rizzo had a ligament problem with his back right leg, from a run he and I had done at a park one morning.  He would push through it and at times I would have to call I always knew when he had had enough, because if I didn't watch him, he would keep going lol.  Months turned into years, and my boy always was near me, never far. When he hurt, I hurt and vice versa. We were joined at the hip and I had been told that because he had been a rescue that he would always be fiercely loyal to me. Trust me, I couldn't have asked for a more loyal pet. 

One morning in mid October 2011, I had noticed Rizzo showing a mild twitch with his head. It was one of those moments where you weren't sure if it truly happened or not.  The other thing Riz would do, is whenever he was laying down he had this habit of what looked like "throwing his head" onto the floor. I remember saying one day to Riz "Hey bud, your going to hurt yourself one of these days." 

After the twitches became more and more like seizures, I knew something was really wrong and took him in to my vet. Given that there were no outward symptoms, my vet opted to take some blood and see if there were any abnormalities. The results came in a few short days later and his blood work came up normal. So it was a case of watch and see. Thru it all, Riz's appetite never changed, that boy could eat! 

One day, the tremors became very severe, and I said to my boyfriend something is seriously wrong and it was decided that I would video using my Blackberry what I was seeing. I then sent it to my vet, and it was decided to put Rizzo on anti-convulsant medication Phenobarbitol and Prednisone for swelling around his brain as he was showing stumbling problems.  Things progressed very quickly from that one day in mid October to where I was in November. The doctor wasn't sure how long we had with Riz, it could have been 2 weeks to an unknown time frame. 

At first Rizzo responded well to treatment, it was like he had a sense of life about him back. He was playful, he was joyful, and he was Rizzo.  The stuffies were now being tossed at me, as were the tennis balls. He was back to enjoying his walks and runs at the park.  I didn't know how long I had my boy back, but I was determined to enjoy every moment. What I found the hardest was not getting my hopes up, I didn't want to believe that he could still die, how could he? He was now playing and being all the things that Rizzo always had been!

I'm not sure how long this went on for ... maybe a couple of weeks, give or take a few.  Then slowly but surely, the stumbling returned, as did accidents happen in the house. I could see my boy's dignity slipping, and I wasn't going to allow that to be taken from him. He didn't deserve that, no one does. I lifted him to and from my car, on days he couldn't or if he was sore in his hips, to lifting him up one stair after being outside. My boy was slipping right before me, and his anxiety and neediness for me increased.  I was up with him many hours of the night, sometimes just to hold his paw to soothe his panting, as was my boyfriend. There were times it was frustrating and lack of sleep was catching up with us, but at the same time, after everything Rizzo had given me, how could I not return the same to him? 

Then it happened..... the morning I had been dreading. Rizzo woke up but had no interest in eating or getting up. I knew this could very well be the end. On top of that he had been congested and I had been wiping his face and throat with a warm towel every day the last week or more.  I was concerned about him getting pneumonia again, and I knew that with his health already compromised, he wouldn't do well with having that on top of everything else. 

So after a discussion with my boyfriend and combined with a promise I made to myself and those around me, I took him in to the vet.  Within a couple of hours of going in, having him assessed and prognosis given. I knew that even with antibiotics there was no guarantee that he would improve, in fact it was a given that he most likely wouldn't. He was already having significant walking issues, and when he fell face first, I knew it was the end. 

So with a separate room prepared, and Blaze with me; I lifted Rizzo up onto the bed, I knew I had to do it, without any help because this was a moment between my boy and I. It was the road we started together and now coming to an end. For that brief moment of liver treats with his brother Blaze, Rizzo's eyes and ears perked up, that inner puppy inside of him came out, making me wonder if I was making the right choice. But I knew had to go with my gut and what I had already witnessed. I had thought about the upcoming Christmas and keeping him alive til that passed, but I knew that I would be selfish and doing that for me.  

So, the preparations were made, and for a brief moment Rizzo felt the needle go in, and I could see his flicker of fear go across his face, I had to look past myself and to him, assure him he would be ok, and with that he was gone..... 

Together Rizzo, Blaze and I had 7 amazing years together. Together, we overcame many obstacles and stood up for one another. To some he was just a dog, to me he was my son, my true family.  I know Rizzo is in my heart and soul and I do miss him every day, yet I have to believe that for his sake and for his spirit, I did the right thing.

1 comment:

  1. My heart breaks for you my friend. I hope that time will heal the wounds and leave only happy memories of the great love of such a great friend. xo