Monday, June 17, 2024

Harvey Dent {07/21/2013 - 06/10/2024}


I know I said I was going to do a weekly check in on this blog & then stopped around the end of March.  That's really when the wheels started to shake on our little homestead for our Big Boy - Harvey Dent.  Last week, the wheels rattled & then quickly fell off & we're still standing by the tragedy & in shock on the whole situation & how fast everything progressed.  Especially the last 24-48 hours of Harvey's time here with us.

If you look back, you'll see, everything started on February 29th.  It was the first thing we really took note of.  The seizure like symptoms he was having.  He would play when we got home & after a few minutes, he would stumble - he'd fall down - struggle to get back up - sort of shake & do a breathing pant with his mouth closed.... & it would repeat for about 15 minutes. Then he'd be exhausted afterwards for about a half hour.

I got a video of this episode & we got him to the vet after we saw this happen a few other times & knew it wasn't a one off situation.

Hearing the symptoms, the vet immediately thought "seizure" - but when I showed him the video, his mind was changed & he thought it was his heart.  They took him back & did an xray & found out his heart looked great - his lungs did too. For a big dog in double digits, everything looked great. - so the next step was taking blood to see if anything showed up.

The results came back & his liver enzymes were a little high - nothing crazy so that was the next step to get checked/tested.  He went in for a Liver Enzyme test & while the results came back fine, it left effects on Harvey. Not eating to fast for the test & then not eating well after the test, he went into multiple seizure episodes afterwards & throwing up - & just so sick.  In this test, though his liver looked fine, we found out that his glucose was extremely low on the few vet visits we went to.

The next step was a test that our vet doesnt do often. We would have to make sure Harvey's glucose was below 50 - the lowest it SHOULD be is 75.  We took him in for more blood draws & his glucose was 38. They were able to take his blood & send it off to a special lab for this test..... & the results that came back wasn't great.  

Insulinoma.  A tumor that grows in the pancreas.  

At least we knew what was causing the seizures & we were told any time he had them, we could give him Karo syrup on his gums & let him lick it & it would bring him out of it quickly.  It did work too - it would take the episodes down to 5 minutes & he'd recover fast too.

The bad thing about this is 1. its not like diabetes. This causes a differences in insulin to glucose.  Where in diabetes, if the glucose is low, the insulin should be low - & vice versa if its high.  Harvey's glucose was low, but his insulin was high so we couldnt like give him a shot like you would for a diabetic dog. - the other bad thing was 2. The vets didnt know what to do.  

As soon as we got the diagnoses, I'm the queen of Web MD & I was all over the internet reading up on this - what to do - a plan of attack - all the internet research you can do.  When our vet was back from maternity leave, she took over Harvey's care & she called me & just told me to change his diet - all we could do.

No ma'am... that is NOT all we can do.  I asked her when we should start steroids & she looked it up & was like, OH YEAH....  I asked right then - "have you ever handled this before?" - No. She said that none of the vets in the office had handled this type of cancer - & that they've never had a positive dog before.  She said they've tested dogs for it before but not one ever came back positive.  

Of course our dog is the one that gets a rare cancer.

Our vet did say to give her a few days & she would research it & contact people she trusted at a specialty vet lab.  She called me back knowing more information & had spoken with another colleague that had handled this multiple times.  All the information I had found was in agreement with the plan for Harvey.

He was to eat small meals every 4-5 hours - which meant even getting up in the middle of the night for snacks - it felt like we had a new born baby in the house... & 2 steroids a day.  The steroids were to keep his blood sugar up.  We could increase it if the seizures came back & once we got to the limit of dose of steroid, we could back it down & then add in one other pill.  All of this could buy us time.  The usual time span with insulinoma is 6 months up to 15 months.  Some dogs I read lived up to 3 years with it.  We'll take every bit of time we can get.

We had an automatic dog food feeder that would give him food throughout the day

We started the steroids.... & he never had one other seizure when he started it.  He had more energy - he had a good 2 weeks on it.  At this point - it was May 10th when he started the steroid.  We thought for sure things were going to be good for awhile.  After the first few weeks, we had to go in & see how his blood sugar was.... it was PERFECT 114! Right where it should be.  Our vet was hoping it would be around 70 - she'd be happy with that. Look at our Harvey being an overachiever.

From March to June - we were in this vet's office every 2 weeks.
They knew our boy well these past few months.

But then... it all turned so fast.

We're 2 weeks into it & I started to notice a decline.  He didnt have any seizures but I could tell he was dragging. His back legs were weak - he was having a hard time standing to eat - or even going to the bathroom. He couldnt get up on his own.  We had rugs running throughout our whole house so he never had to be on a slippery floor too - the most hodgepodge of rugs you could imagine. It helped him though.

I found a harness on Amazon that we were able to put on him & was able to leave on him all the time & it was a huge blessing. We were able to just give him a tug up & once he was up, he could make it where he needed to be.  If he had bad days, we could hold him up with it too & he even became reliant of us helping him up the back porch steps. He couldnt push with his back legs to go up the 2 steps at all.  

The first week of June, I called the vet & told them that something was wrong.  They told me to increase the steroid - which I didnt feel comfortable doing since his blood sugar was still good.  They suggested it could be potassium since steroids could effect that. So we took him on on Friday, June 7th for a blood sugar test (still great!) & then a full blood panel.  At this point, his legs were so bad, they had to come out to the car to take his blood because we had such a hard time getting in up & around.

I felt so bad all the times they had to take his blood.... my poor baby.

The weekend of June 8th & 9th - he just seemed more tired than usual.  He would catch the ball - always laying down - & he fell asleep with it in his mouth.  He wasn't wanting to eat as much as he usually did.  Something was happening. I kept checking our little vet app to see if his blood work came back from the test on Friday to see if it was indeed his potassium & we could give him supplements.

Sunday night - we dont know what happened - it was like his legs were jello. He couldnt stand up at all any more. Like the snap of a finger, it happened that fast.  Ricky & I would have to lift him up by his harness & HOLD him up while the other would try & stabilize his back legs. 

Monday morning, we knew something bad was happening.

He refused to eat.  I had to get his steroids in him & got a spoon full of PB & scrapped it on the roof of his mouth. That would be the last food he'd eat.

He tried to drink water.... but he'd gag & throw it right up. Nothing was staying in.  He couldnt stand to go to the bathroom so he kept messing on himself.  We were able to get him on a blanket & carry him everywhere - to get cleaned up - to go on a ride in our wagon..  We took him back to the woods to let him see his favorite place.  He would raise his head & look around - but you could see he was feeling so badly.

He was in the shade in our back yard & I was sitting out with him when I noticed his gums.  They suddenly turned WHITE. Like white as a sheet of paper.  I've never seen anything like it. His breathing got very labored all of a sudden too - we called the vet & they told us to bring him up & they could squeeze him in.

We had to load him up in his wagon -we lifted the wagon in the car & started down to the vets office.

OF COURSE we're on the way, feeling like it was a rush & emergency & I'm driving like a NASCAR driver & the FREAKING ROAD WAS CLOSED....we had to turn around & go a whole other direction costing us 25 minutes. I thought Ricky & I were going to stroke out by the time we got here.  On the way, Harvey was just declining so fast. He got so sick - his whole body eliminating on both ends.... we knew this was taking a fast turn.

I ran in the vets office & they told us we had to wait ....................... I still want to scream thinking of this.

We got him out of the car & cleaned him up the best we could - & we just loved on him out in the grass on his blanket.  Just kept telling him we loved him & rubbing him....

they finally came & saw him & rushed him in (ya think???) & they listened to his breathing, saw his gums, took his temp & then rushed him to the back. They put him on oxygen, gave him an IV & had to ice pack him - he had a 106 fever! The highest it should be is 103. 

The vet came in & said it was just amazing timing that we got his blood work ran that Friday before.  His white blood count was off totally - his liver was THROUGH THE ROOF.  She said that showed he had some sort of infection - & she thought the cancer had spread through to his liver already. None of this made sense to me. None of it. That it happened so fast? Is it possible? It was too much information at once & my brain wasn't working to connect any of it.

Next thing we know - they're telling us he's still declining in the back & we said we dont want him to suffer - it was just awful & we knew there was nothing else we could do.

As we're signing the papers to proceed - we told them we want to be with Harvey when he was going to be given his shot & eased out of his suffering ...... all of a sudden, everyone is rushing in with Harvey - still in our wagon we brought him in  - & it all happened in less than 60 seconds. It still feels unreal..... Harvey RAISED his head up & looked me straight in the face. I said HEY BUDDY - & then I noticed his eyes - they were so dilated.  I screamed - WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM? WHY ARE HIS EYES LIKE THAT?

 .... he laid down - & just passed away. 

Ricky was petting him & felt him stop breathing. Ricky kept yelling - HES NOT BREATHING!!!! .... & like that, he was gone. 

On his own terms. Letting us know we didnt make the decision.... he did.
Once again, taking care of us... doing what he always did best.

I'm so glad he saw me & Ricky & knew we were there in his final moments.

I told Ricky I just know that when they took him in the back, he was away from us & he felt like he could go then. Because if he stayed with us, I think he would have just kept fighting so hard to be with us.... my little fighter.  That boy always cared about US - I know he knew it would break us when he left.

The vet said while he was in the back, they did an ultrasound & then she told me, "The tumor was HUGE"

ok...... I'm so mad & confused. 

The WHOLE reason we never did an ultrasound was because they say with Insulinoma, the tumors are always so small - they're tucked in the pancreas & you cant see them. They will eventually grow & spread to the liver - but an ultrasound was always avoided because it wasnt needed. 

NOW there's an ultasound? & ITS HUGE? So big you can see it in a fast scan when looking for internal bleeding - why she did the ultrasound because with Harvey's gums that white, she thought there was bleeding somewhere.

We're just dumbfounded.  I get it - he had cancer - there's nothing we could have done to ultimately save him. But was there something that could have helped him be more comfortable? Could have slowed down the cancer? ... I dont know...we're still just numb about it all & have so many questions. All the What If's that naturally come.

Now, we just carry on without our Harvey Dent... & the days have just been heartbreaking ever since.

Ernie feels the loss too - Harvey was his buddy when he came to our home.  I walked in one day to see Ernie just sitting next to Harvey's kennel staring inside of it - I wont even tell you how hard I cried at that.

The last time we have had only 2 dogs in our home was 2002.  22 years with 3 or more dogs in our home.

I cant believe 2024 has claimed 2 of our babies - Zoe in January & now Harvey in June.

2024, you can kiss my rear... seriously.

We've been looking back on pictures though - trying to think of the good memories of Harvey & not the past few months.... & with 10 years of having this big lug, we have so many good memories. SO MANY.  I love under the #harveydentvincent hashtag on IG, there's over 100 pics of my beautiful boy.....take pictures. Store up memories to look back on - they matter.

Harvey came to us because a friend that works with an Aussie Rescue needed someone to foster a puppy that was in a shelter in Eastern KY.  I told Ricky that we would just foster - we didnt need to keep him.... Ricky did not want a boy dog ... but he agreed to fostering. Well, as soon as this cute little pup came running down the sidewalk to meet us, Ricky took all of 30 seconds before he said, "Dont worry about putting him up for adoption - we'll keep him"

Our Gotcha day - October 2013

Harvey came into the house while we still had Sydney & we always said Sydney taught him how to be the best dog. He took on so many of her traits.

I know a lot of you remember Harvey from the hashtag I created when we got him & all the things he tore up as a pup. So many dog beds tore up. The best of it all was the COUCH he tore up. I'll never forget coming home & walking into our living room & seeing a full floor of FLUFF where he tore up the cushions. .... Honestly, he was so darn cute - I just laughed.  He could get away with anything & we'd still think he was the best little thing.

I mean... look at this face!!!!!!!!!

I could sit here & post the HUNDREDSSSSS of pictures I have of him & talk about his funny little ways.... 

... the way he would STOMP when he wanted our attention - or food.

... the way he'd throw back his head & howl the most raspy voiced howl 

... the way he would snuggle for HOURS - his favorite place to be was in Ricky's lap, or laying next to me in the bed.

... the way he followed us everywhere & just wanted to be near us

... the way I was so sad losing Sydney because she was my reading dog & would sit next to me all day while I read - & then Harvey stepped in & filled those shoes, loving reading days on the porch

I could sit & tell stories every day for the rest of the year... all of this to say, he was our family - he was our baby - losing him has been so hard - beyond words.

I know some people think dogs are just that... dogs.  & then there are people that understand when your life revolves around these little creatures that have hair all over them, they are so much more.  That you give up things to be home on time to feed them - that you will pay anything to keep them healthy - that you will buy every toy just to get them excited - that you will spend all your time just wanting to hold them & love on them. Family. Your baby.

We're adjusting. Trying to. Our lives feel so different.  Something is missing.  Things arent right.

Thankful for videos & pictures & most of all memories.  Memories of our Gentle Giant & all the love he blessed us with.  He loved us & we loved him even more.

Till we get to snuggle again Harvey Dent.

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