My family's dog died while I was in Alaska. I found out earlier this week. My parents didn't want to tell me until I picked up Maurice from the kennel so I wouldn't worry about him, which was a good decision on their part.
I lobbied to adopt Portia a little over 10 years ago from the Humane Society after shooting an assignment for the newspaper I was working on at the time about another dog who was recently adopted from there who saved her owner from a fire. So I went to the shelter and a 4 month old Portia was in her cage, and I would reach in and pet her and as soon as I touched her, she would roll over. I thought it was adorable. She looked mostly like a black lab, but had a little Rottie mixed in, and who knows what else.
Little did I know that Portia was neurotic, a little demented, and an evil genius. But despite many rocky roads, we kept her anyway. My plan was to take her with me when I moved out, but she loved my father more than anything, and the rest of us were merely tolerable. So I figured I would not pry her away from her true love, and that's how I ended up with Maurice instead.
Anyway, just before I went on vacation, my parents took her to the vet. The doctor said she was very healthy and strong for a 10 year old dog, but she had minor arthritis... not uncommon for a large (90 lb) dog her age. So they prescribed some medicine - Rimadyl. My parents asked if it was necessary, the vet said not to worry. They started giving her the medicine, and she stopped eating and was listless. Then she started throwing up. They called the vet, who said it was probably the heat. She was indoors 99% of the time, so my parents didn't buy this and wanted to bring her back in. The vet said to wait 3 days. My parents were upset. My dad got on the internet and looked up Rimadyl to see if it was behind the turn in her health. Not only was this medicine very risky in terms of the side effects that are possible, but Portia displayed the majority of the symptoms / side effects listed and it said to get the dog to the vet immediately if this occurred. My mother argued with the staff at the vet's office that this was not normal and got her in the next day.
Another vet at the clinic did some tests on this visit, and found out Portia had gone into kidney failure. They had to put her to sleep.
I am extremely sad and upset. This dog was a part of our family for 10 years. I've known her as long as I've known Andy.
Let this be a warning to all pet owners - make sure if your pet is given any new medication that you ask a ton of questions and get the information sheet from your vet that includes the side effects. This was not given to my parents, and if it was, our dog might be alive today. She should have had a few good years left, and now has none.
To end this post on a somewhat positive note, I dug up a few photos of Portia to share here. She had a very good life with our family, and that's what I will try to think about through all of this.
This is Andy, my mother, and Portia on the porch relaxing:
This is one of Andy and Portia sleeping in the living room. It was funny, because if I went to wake Andy up, she would rush over to him because she wanted to wake him up herself. But then she would just fall asleep next to him. This was a common sight every time we'd visit my parents: