Mysterious Mick

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Mick wasting away in the hospital. Again.

September 28th, which was the second time Mick nearly died, I nearly let him go.

Three days off the IV later, he was bounding around the house. That had me spooked. More and more specialists were working on his case, but we still had no idea what was trying to kill Mick. I was overjoyed he’d escaped death again, even if my knees were still knocking.

Then, as soon as he was strong enough, I took him two-and-a-half hours north to the University of Gainesville veterinary hospital, where Dr. Specht told me to turn around and drive back home. Mick’s illness was too mind-boggling. Dr. Specht needed days to go over all his files and test results. That was a Wednesday. Dr. Specht was supposed to call me Friday with a hypothesis and a plan. He called—but only to ask for still more time. “As long as he’s doing okay, I’d like to take the weekend to keep investigating.” Mick wasn’t just doing okay, he was thriving like never before. I said okay.

Just four days after he was released from the hospital. I was astonished.

Just four days after he was released from the hospital. I was astonished.

Monday Dr. Specht called and talked for an hour. He said Mick was complicated, and probably more than one disease was at work on him. The primary suspect was cobalamin (B-12) deficiency, but he might also have Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome and Pancreatic Lipase Immunoreactivity. If not those, then Coombs’ Disease, homocystemia, pyruvate kinase deficiency, lymphangiectasia, inflammatory bowel disease, a motility disorder, or a malabsorptive disorder. “It’s also not impossible that bone marrow cancer might be crawling around in there, so we can do a biopsy.”

“You lost me at lymphangiectasia,” I said. “I’m not sure we have this kind of staying power.”

“Let’s start conservatively,” he said. We ordered a few basic tests through our local vet and arranged for the results to go to UF. We waited.

Mick's starting to get the hang of his skateboard!

Mick’s starting to get the hang of his skateboard!

The results are in, but we’re still waiting for Dr. Specht’s analysis and recommendations. Mick’s cobalamin was low, which is good news—one kind of B 12 deficiency explains many of Mick’s mysteriously menacing ailments, and it’s easy to treat. But what’s causing the deficiency? Does he have other disorders? How low do we let his B 12 go?

Meanwhile, there’s nothing deficient about Mick. For the first time in his life, he’s a full-blown Border Collie. He’s rocketing around the house, yapping at the door, barreling after the cat, trying to boss us around. Most astonishing: he cleans his bowl, morning and night. He’s grown so fast so suddenly, he’s almost caught up to his brother Sweep, something I gave up hoping for.

Food made us both so sad. It broke my heart I couldn't feed my puppy.

Food made us both so sad. It broke my heart I couldn’t feed my puppy.

It used to be he’d eat a whole bowl, then half, then none, and lie down despondent. We used to pace the aisles at Dog Lover’s searching for a dwindling numbers of foods he hadn’t yet tried. Right before his last near-death crisis, we realized we’d run out, and what was the point anyway? By then I knew, it wasn’t the food, it wasn’t his care, it was his body, and I thought no one could help us.

Something I thought I'd never see!

Something I thought I’d never see!

But now, Mick eats and heartily. He jumps and barks and roos while I open the can of Hill’s prescription i/d. I even saw the dog who refused all kibble steal a piece from the cat.

One day a week or so ago I thought he might have eaten an ibuprofen he found in the bottom of my daughter’s closet. I hardly had the energy to race him back to the vet, yet again, but I did. All he needed on top of everything else was a little poisoning and kidney failure. The assistant told me no ibuprofen was found in his stomach, but he really surprised her. “Mick is a new dog! He’s clattering around his cage and barking for attention—especially when we pay attention to another dog. And you won’t believe it. Dogs hate activated charcoal so we usually have to force it, but he ate it!”

Mick was a new dog. He'd try to drag Alby out of his home office to play.

Mick is a new dog. Here he’s (successfully) pestering Alby to leave the home office to play.

Mick was a new dog. Was he going to be as sweet? Was he going to be as eager to please? Was he still going to be the charming darling that everybody loves? Also, Mick has been “cool” in the old-school, Sean Connery as 007 sort of way, always fearless, always amused, always a twinkle in the eye for the ladies. Nothing rattled him. Would he still be my delightful go-anywhere, do-anything, gal-winning pal?

We lived in the now.

We lived in the now.

I’d grown afraid to train him or take him anywhere. “I don’t want him to catch any germs,” I said. “I don’t want to wear him out.” But he had more energy than ever. The truth was I was afraid to risk loving him again. I avoided training and socializing, anything that suggested Mick had a future that could be taken from us. If I invested any more in him, it would just hurt all the more if I lost him.

Gradually I restarted our training. “He’s ready,” I said, but really I was starting to feel safe. We dusted off his old tricks, revisited our basic manners, and finally tackled our skateboard lessons again. By the time Intro to Agility started Mick was in orbit.

Mick watches his classmates during his first Intro to Agility class.

Mick watches his classmates during his first Intro to Agility class.

But the first round of blood test results have been in for a week. I’ve called and left messages. Today the front desk said Dr. Specht emailed me, but we’ve exchanged emails before. I haven’t gotten an email. They said he’d try again by 5:00 today, but still no email, and here comes the weekend.

I think it’s okay, though. Mick is doing great. He’s ready for his walk now, and it’s a beautiful evening in Florida. Have a great weekend, everyone! Mick says, “Roo!”

"Paws up!" Time for a walk!

“Paws up!” Time for a walk!

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6 responses to “Mysterious Mick

  1. Go big boy go!!! RUN RUN RUN!!! HAVE FUN!!!

  2. Tami Reichelderfer

    This is such AWESOME news!!! I am just so relieved for the both of you! Mick is an AMAZING & incredibly resilient dog…. he’s not going ANYwhere anytime soon!! He looks absolutely FABULOUS!!!! I am just so very happy for all of you guys and hoping the vet gets with you soon! it’d be nice to understand this mystery of Mick’s better, for he & every other dog out there’s sake. Not only is Mick an AWESOME dog just all by his own sweet self, but I believe he will be Notoriously Famous in the Veterinary Journals as well!! 😉 Mick is indeed a…..WonderDog! I think we can all agree on that, Vet’s included lol and we ALL Love him to pieces!! He touches every single person he comes into contact with in such a special & loving way, he is just an incredible dog, and one I must say I wish my two would take lessons from, maybe in their case it would be something more of a ‘mind’meld’ like Spock hahaha:) I must also say this because you yourself are such an INCREDIBLE woman,,,,,Mick is so thoroughly Lucky & Blessed to have you as his human…I know for myself…. I have lost a little faith in humanity over the years…I’m not proud of that… it is what it is you know? but then I see people like you that are just so caring and generously devoted to their animals and their well being and I feel a connection…… once again I grasp for the hope that if there is ONE person who feels the same, there must be more! Mick is and should be an inspiration to us all!! he has overcome so, so many obstacles in his relatively short life thus far and he has definitely been an inspiration to me personally. Thank you so much for the latest update on him and hope to see you guys soon 🙂

    Tami (from DogLovers)

    • Oh, Tami! Thank you. You brought me to tears. You filled me with your joy and enthusiasm. You know better than most what we went through for so many months. You really stuck by us. You never lost patience. You never made me feel neurotic for fearing something was wrong even when the vets could find nothing. People like us need each other to keep going! Mick and I will be forever grateful to you! Wait’ll you see him eat now!

  3. I’m happy for all of you. I’ve come to know him through your reports and if he ever wants to run away, we will make room for him. Wishing you all well for the future.

    • Maria, it’s good to know you love him! Mick is so funny that way. I no longer feel like he’s “my” dog, but “our” dog. He’s simply been, by some freak of fate, entrusted to me. Our love to you and yours!

Whatcha thinking? Gimme that! Grr! Grr!

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