Warning, this post might make you sad.
Mom will tell you that she is glad to have us home. And in some ways I am glad to be home, too. However, I would much rather be pedaling around SE Asia and have Jazzy be happy and healthy than home and watching her demise.
Jazzy is an incredible dog. She is intelligent in a border collie way and warm and cuddly in a lab way. She is the best of both breeds. Sometimes the need to herd is in conflict with the desire to fetch but the love for her humans is unwavering.
Jazzy is the best backpacking dog, ever. She loves to be out in the back country, keeping an eye on the backpacking class students (she only missed one or two backpacking classes in nine years) and swimming in streams, rivers and high mountain lakes every opportunity she can. She always carried her own food and kept the chipmunks, squirrels, birds and deer away from our camp.
She loves to play with her canine companions Meesha, Bear and the unrelenting puppy, Levi. Even as an older dog, she can still outrun the puppies. Jazzy is always the one to say enough is enough and heads off to find a quiet corner to chill and keep an eye on everyone.
Each and every time Jazzy goes to the vet she is given the perfect stamp. Literally, the vet said she was “perfect”. She stands stoically when she is prodded and poked (even when they insert the thermometer you know where) and always gives a thank you nuzzle to the vet and the technicians. She is incredibly healthy and always has been. Old age brought on a touch of arthritis (doesn’t it always) and now a touch of epilepsy or a brain tumor. Who knows?
We are familiar with canine epilepsy, as our beautiful chocolate lab, Bear was plagued with it for a lifetime. On Tuesday, Jazzy had her first seizure in the morning. It lasted two minutes (although it felt like longer) and was all encompassing. The vet found no underlying metabolic cause – so, we are now calling it either late onset epilepsy or a brain tumor. Swell.
She now has had four seizures about five hours apart, the second and fourth were fairly short. The third was a bit longer. We are establishing a pattern complete with an aura and post ictal stage. She starts by smacking her lips and then begins salivating with a thick sputum frothing from her mouth. We kneel down beside her and gently place our arms around her to protect her from getting hurt as she moves into the active seizure phase. Sometimes she loses bowel and bladder, sometimes she doesn’t. The scariest part is that she stops breathing, as if being strangled, during her seizures.
The seizures stop dramatically, faster than they start. She pants for a few minutes and then suddenly gets up, albeit a bit unsteadily and then paces in circles around the house. While she paces, she checks in briefly with all of us. Pacing from person to person to dog to person, touching you gently with her nose then moving on to the next. At first she is a bit unsteady on her feet, with time she gains composure and coordination. She finds her way to water and takes a long drink.
After a while she finally settles down into a deep slumber and then returns to her ever vigilant self. Waking up to the normal household and neighborhood sounds. She seems normal, even younger and spry-er until the next seizure hits.
The vet has suggested a course of phenobarbital to control the seizures. Lets see where that takes us. This right turn sucks.
Jazzy is loved – she is lovely. I love her.
Update: It has been 15 hours since Jazzy’s last seizure and 13 hours since her first dose of phenobarbitol. Through the day, she was as lively and interactive as ever. Let’s hope this continues!