by Barbara in Newcastle, Oklahoma
Angel was our 10.5-year-old Golden Pyrenees, and she was healthy, according to her annual vet visit in August of 2018. But now we look back and see different signs, such as tiring after short walks and panting more. It was sometimes very hot and humid outside, plus, Angel needed another grooming as she had very thick hair. I remember the vet taking an extra listen to Angel’s heart during the exam, but Angel hated going to the vet and her anxiety was over the top, so I am inclined to think that contributed to something the vet heard.
Angel continued to pant even after grooming. Again, I thought it was crazy Oklahoma weather and humidity, so I bought her a cooling pad to lay on. I also kept air circulating wherever she was in the house. Then she began hacking and coughing. Maybe a hairball? But then she fainted. This was in mid-September. I took Angel to the vet, where she was diagnosed with bronchitis and prescribed an antibiotic and prednisone. We went back and forth to the vet and animal hospital for breathing treatments, x-rays, and other tests until it became obvious the meds were not helping and breathing treatments were only providing minor relief.
The hospital asked if we wanted to call in a specialist and do more heart-related testing. Of course, we did. I told the specialist about the food Angel’s other vet put her on (Nutro Adult Lite Chicken and Nutro Senior Chicken). They did all kinds of blood work. Sadly, Angel’s echo showed she was in congestive heart failure (CHF). They put her on Lasix and other heart medicines. Angel’s taurine plasma level came in at 79 – the low end of normal. Normal is between 60-120. Dr. Simona had me start Angel on 1000mg of taurine and 1000mg of L-Carnitine per day. Angel would get a little better, only to worsen within the same day. She would have bloody nose episodes, too. The specialist continued to come or call to check on Angel, while also consulting with another cardiologist to make sure she wasn’t missing anything.
On October 10, 2018, we met the specialist at the hospital, where Angel had been for four days. In hopes of our Angel coming home, I had cleaned the house spotless, was getting an air purifier for her, and researching home oxygen tents and heart meds…nothing less than anyone would do for a human child. Dr. Simona did another echo and more blood work, but Angel was not responding well and wouldn’t eat. The doctor explained what was going on and said the only thing she knew to try, and it was not a guarantee, would be the hyperbaric chamber. But we would have to transfer Angel and the doctor wasn’t sure Angel would survive the transfer. I was ready to try anything! But then Angel began coughing up blood and Dr. Simona, tearfully, told us it was coming from her lungs.
We let Angel go to her heavenly home that day. I miss her more than my heart can contain. I still spot a hairball here and there, peeking out from under something. I break down and leave it, so that she is not completely gone.