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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Tribute to Tango

Today was a sad day to start with. We had to put our beloved dog, Tango, down because of her failed kidneys. I've had pets die before, but this is the first time we've had to make the decision to have one euthanized.

Tango came to us about seven years ago when my brother called and asked if we wanted a dog. His neighbor had two Australian Cattle Dogs and wanted to give one away. He told us it was a Blue-Tick Heeler. I looked for one online to see what they looked like, but couldn't find any good photos. A few weeks later, he and his girlfriend (now wife) brought Tango from where they lived. When she walked in my first thought was that she was the ugliest dog I had ever seen. She came trotting in and made herself right at home.

We took her to the vet to get her checked out and vaccinated and fixed. Probably the best thing we ever did because we didn't know her pedigree, if she even had one, but the vet fell in love with her immediately. She had two ACD's herself one blue and one red. Turns out that Tango's brother, Cash, was a red. Tango was a good dog, although she had trouble with incontinence in the house once in a while. I could count her accidents on two hands over many years.

We tried several times to get her a companion to play with in the yard during the day, but never had much luck. Our son watched someone dump a Rottweiler on our street that we took in and named Daisy, but Daisy wouldn't ever let Tango get to the food, so we sent her to a Rottweiler rescue place. Whenever we dog-sat for our son's cello teacher, Tango would have a grand time with Ella, so we knew she needed someone to play with. Then, when the cello teacher's wife rescued this big, dumb mutt from the middle of the freeway in a rainstorm and couldn't keep him, we took him in. Snickers has been Tango's constant companion for about three years now.

After several months, we noticed that Tango had lost a LOT of weight and seemed to be getting sluggish. We took her to the vet and about $1200 and a week in the hospital, it turned out that she had renal failure. They were able to jump-start her kidneys so that she was producing urine, but she had to be on a special diet for life. And she would need subcutaneous fluids when she started getting dehydrated. Not a problem. We found a nearby vet that could supply her food because her regular vet was miles from home. And we have a friend who would provide us with saline when we needed it. She was a happy, semi-healthy dog that was a member of the family. We found out last year that Cash had just withered away and died. We surmised that it was probably the same kidney disease that went untreated because they described exactly how Tango looked the first time.

Last week, she suddenly got bad. I was able to get a bag of saline from the first vet's office (the new one wouldn't let me administer at home) because our friend was not longer in a doctor's office, but at a hospital. Three days in a row I put in 250ml and she actually seemed to look forward to getting it, where before she hated having the needle stuck in and sitting still for 20 minutes. Those three slugs of saline looked like it would do the trick, but on Sunday I had to give her the last of the saline I had and by Monday morning, she wouldn't walk. I had to drag her out of the dog house to take her to the vet. She hadn't eaten in at least four days, by then and force-feeding canned dog food didn't even work.

When the vet looked her over, she had ulcers in her mouth and had lost about 25% of her body weight. She had a severe kidney infection and no output. They started her on IV antibiotics and IV fluids, but she kept throwing up overnight. Her blood tests came back as some of the worst he'd ever seen, I think. Much higher than he expected. When he called this morning, he gave me three courses of action. Spend even more money and hope it worked, keep her comfortable one more day and re-run the labs, or euthanize her. DH and I talked it over and then called the vet for clarification. He gave her a 15-30% chance of recovering enough to live on antibiotics and special diet the rest of her life. He didn't encourage it, but it was clear that for Tango's sake, euthanasia was probably the best choice.

We made the decision. It was hard. We still have to tell the boys. And we have to figure out how to keep Snickers from being too lonely. He used to be someone's housedog, so keeping him indoors while we're there isn't a problem. We just have to get ourselves over the pain of having to make such a difficult decision and the consequences that go with it. We've lost a close fur-family friend, but at least we can say we gave her the best life we knew how. Rest in peace, dear puppy.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Aww, Karen, hugs to you and your family. We went through this very thing almost three years ago. Godspeed, Tango.