A little over five years ago we were asked by American Brittany Rescue to foster a sweet Brittany named Libby. She had been turned into a shelter in North Platte. She had obviously just had a litter of puppies and was still lactating. She was brought back to Omaha by Nancy and Harlan Vogel who asked us to foster her. She was spayed at Rockbrook Animal and came to our house to recuperate so that she could be adopted out by American Brittany Rescue.
Libby was a shy baby right from the start. When the doorbell rang, she would run and hide. When our other two dogs would bark she would hide. Her favorite safe place was behind our bed in our bedroom where she was out of sight. She would occasionally sleep on the bed with us but she preferred her little dog bed behind our bed where she was safe from all loud noises and the commotion of the other dogs.
I quickly feel in love with my dear sweet Libby. When the call came that a family in Atlanta wanted to adopt her I just couldn’t send her half way across the country. I knew that she would be scared and I couldn’t bear the thought of life without her. So we kept her. As our daughter told us, “you guys suck at fostering”.
She loved to go for walks but even on her walks she was timid. She seldom would use the whole leash length, preferring to stay next to me. Lee took her out hunting but it was clear she was not a hunter. She had that Brittany nose and a couple times she pushed some pheasant out but she wasn’t a pointer and just liked going for walks in the fields.
She was the sweetest dog I have ever known. She wouldn’t hurt a soul. She seldom barked and never showed any aggression to anyone. One time I had her at the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning. I didn’t see the little girl who came suddenly at her from the side. All of a sudden there was a three year old hugging her tight and squealing “doggie”! The little girl’s mother was horrified, scared that the dog would bite her little one. But Libby didn’t even flinch. She just stood there and let the little girl hug her and pull on her ears. Many people around me commented, “that is a great dog, most dogs would have bitten a kid coming at them suddenly like that”. I said, “I know”.
About a year ago she started to slow down. We knew she about five when we got her so we thought she was just starting to get old. I took her in for tests and our vet found her thyroid was low. We put her on thyroid medication. Then last summer we had her clipped for summer and I noticed that her hair was growing in and she seemed to be panting a lot. I started googling her symptoms on the internet and it seemed to match “Cushing’s Disease”. I called the vet and he said to bring her in for tests.
He tested her adrenal function and sure enough she had Cushing’s. Cushing’s is a disease where the adrenal gland produces too much cortisol. Most likely in her case it was caused by a tumor on her pituitary gland. The symptoms are increased thirst and feeding, hair loss or failure to grow, panting and fatigue. We started her on a medication called Veteryl that can lessen the symptoms. She did better for a little while, she got a little bounce in her step and this spring she was actually chasing things in the field again. Her hair wasn’t growing but we didn’t care.
The past two months she had started to go downhill again. We had her tested for diabetes, which can be caused by Cushing’s, but she was negative. She was losing weight and pacing incessantly. It was hard for her to sleep at night. We started giving her Melatonin. She started having accidents in the house. Libby never ever had accidents before this. She could go twelve or more hours without peeing. She was such a good dog. When we left her for long hours she never peed in the house. We would be standing at the back door with her legs crossed, but she would never go.
Then yesterday she seemed really restless. She was panting and all of a sudden her legs went out from underneath her and she couldn’t stand up. I took her right into the vet. They did x-rays but couldn’t find anything. She had developed a massive infection in one of her mammary glands. The vet said that Cushing’s causes a compromised immune system that can lead to devastating infections. She had IV fluids and three antibiotics last night. The vet wanted her to stay overnight but I couldn’t leave her there. She came home last night. She was walking some but she wouldn’t eat. I sat out on my deck last night with her laying next to me. I thought she might be ok.
I took her back into the vet this morning for more antibiotics and fluids. Mid day the vet called me. It was the call I expected but dreaded. He said that she might be doing a bit better but that given her condition we should consider letting her go. Of course this was already in my heart but I knew the time had come for me to make the most painful decision of pet ownership. I knew that I couldn’t put her through any more. I had to let my baby go.
Lee met me at Rockbrook Animal this afternoon. I held her and told her how much she meant to me and how much I loved her. I told her what a great dog she was and how much I would miss her. I told her that I hoped she was going to a better place and that I would be with her one day. Then I let her go. She died just as she lived, no sound, just gentle silence. I was so lucky to have her in my life. I think that dogs are just another reason I believe in God. They bring so much joy to us. They bring a love that is so strong and so unconditional. I am blessed to have known Libby. Sweet dreams my Libby Lu.