Sloan (part 2)

After we got Sloan’s megaesophagus sort of figured out we started working on training and normal dog stuff. We still had Gunner, so we did day to day training, learning to walk on leash and going to off leash dog parks and practising his recall. He was a quick learner. And although we couldn’t do clicker training with him because we couldn’t just hand out treats, unless it was close to meal time so he could sit in his chair, he was still a fast study. Very eager to please us no matter what.
He LOVED fetch and was a genius at catching the Frisbee. Gunner was good at it, but Sloan was an expert. I wasn’t always the best at “good” throws but Sloan rarely missed. He was amazingly athletic and agile for a 110lb dog.

Sloan jumping to catch a frisbee

Sloan also had the patience of a saint, it didn’t matter how big or small the dog was he would adjust how he played with them so that he never hurt them. When he was playing with the baby chihuahua (Nixon, in the photos below) there were a few times where my heart skipped a beat, Nixon was the size of Sloan’s leg and they were chasing each other around, I kept worrying that Sloan would step on him. However Sloan never missed a step, they played for hours and no “accidents” at all.

Sloan playing with puppies a fraction of his size

He displayed that same level of patience and gentleness to all sizes and ages of children as well. I did my nieces baby pictures when she was 9 days old, and got some fantastic ones of 4 month old Sloan laying calmly beside her. He was also part of my nephews newborn photoshoot, but he wasn’t a puppy anymore. It was amazing to watch him around kids. He was so calm and gentle.

Sloan with my niece and nephew

We lost Gunner when Sloan was just over 1, he didn’t seem to be fazed by it all, but was a huge comfort to us as we were grieving. It was like he knew what we needed.

He got to be a big brother when he was 3. We had a stray puppy show up at our cabin on Canada day weekend. He was skin and bones, and had a terrible hair coat, but he was a fiesty little thing and Sloan loved him. He thought we had gotten him the best present ever. It was so funny to watch them together. We kept the puppy for the weekend, planning on bringing him to a rescue when we got back to the city. But after having him with us for the weekend we realized that everything really does happen for a reason and he was the perfect fit for our family. So we kept him. We named him Rosco, and he and Sloan were inseparable. Rosco was a nervous guy, but seemed to build confidence every day. I’m sure partly due to how great Sloan was with him.

Sloan playing with his new little brother Rosco

Sloan was part of our family for 3 short years. Not near long enough. We brought him home on September long weekend and lost him the end of September 3 years later. He was the 3rd dog we lost in 3 years, and I’m not going to lie, it almost broke me. I was devastated. We had done everything we could and thought we had everything under control with his megaesophagus and then one morning he vomited (not regurgitated) but heaved and vomited. After he did that he didn’t want to sit in his chair. He fought to get out shortly after I put him there and didn’t want to eat, just wanted out. So we went to work that day and he regurgitated a few times and just wasn’t himself. So off to the vet we went. We did some x-rays but couldn’t see anything, so I brought him home and tried to put him in his chair again. This time he really fought and he turned a little blue. So we rushed back to the vet clinic. We thought maybe he had something we couldn’t see lodged in his esopagus, so we anaesthetized him and tried to pass a stomach tube. It wouldn’t go, so we weren’t sure what was going on. But while we were doing that he coded (died). The Vet and I (I’m a registered Veterinary technologist) did cpr and got him back. But now we were really stumped and out of ideas on what was going on and it was now a full on emergency where every decision could be life or death. We called the Vet college and rushed him there. The Vet driving and me riding in the back with him (breathing in his endotracheal tube because he still wasn’t breathing well). They met us in the parking lot and rushed him to the back to start treatment and tests while someone else came to ask us a bunch of questions. My Vet called my hubby and told him what was going on and that he should come and meet me at the college and then she went home. He coded 3 more times while we were there and no one seemed to know what was going on to cause it. So I asked if we could go see him, said goodbye, told him he didn’t have to fight anymore, told him he was such a great dog and that we loved him and asked them to euthanize him. I left in a daze, what had went wrong, what did I do to cause this. I didn’t sleep, both my husband and I were in shock and poor Rosco had reverted to his nervous self.

The next morning I called the Vet college to ask them to perform a post mortem. I needed to know what happened. They told me it would take 2 weeks to get results, I was fine with that, I just needed to know what happened. The Vet from the college called me back that evening. She was amazed, had never seen anything like it, had only read about it, apparently when he vomited that morning his stomach has degloved (the inside tore away from the outside) and it had intussusepted into his esopagus (basically his stomach inside ended up inside-out trapped in his esopagus) and it was already going necrotic (the tissue was dying). There was nothing that anyone could have done. It’s rare, in fact in the 9 years I worked in clinic I had never heard of it. And the numerous veteranians I have talked to about it since hadn’t ever seen it either, just read about it. He was one of a kind right until they end. The knowledge that I couldn’t have done anything to help him made it a little easier. I stopped questioning every decision and just grieved. I missed him so much. And still miss him. He was one of a kind in so many way. RIP Sloan.


Sloan, our first Dogue de Bordeaux (and 3rd dog)

Sloan…where to start…he was our 3rd dog and I talked about how he was our ray of sunshine when we lost Kira, and how Gunner loved him so much and got to be the best big brother…

Unfortunately Sloan had some pretty major health issues, we had him for about 2 weeks and we were in love, he was such a great puppy and he was the ray of sunshine that we all needed to help us with our grief in losing Kira…but he seemed to have a hard time keeping food or water down. He would eat or drink and then I would find kibble or water on the floor. He wasn’t vomiting, it just wasn’t staying. So off to the vet we went. We ran some tests and he was diagnosed with a megaesophagus. 10 weeks old, we are still grieving, and now our puppy that we all love so much has a terrible prognosis. I called the breeder and she offered to take him back (she had a great health guarantee) but have I mentioned, we were in love. So I decided we would keep him and do whatever was necessary to give him the best life. I started researching and luckily found a megaesophagus support group on yahoo (they were AMAZING) they were so full of information, ideas and support, I needed their encourement so much.

The first thing I learned was that he needed to stay elevated after eating. So into a garbage can the poor guy went, I would feed him in there and then he had to stay in there for at least 1/2 hour after eating. All the while I was researching different diets, and everything else I could find about megaesophagus.

Sloan in his garbage can

Luckily for Sloan my hubby is pretty handy and was not only willing to put up with a puppy that regurgitated often, but was also willing to build him a Bailey’s chair (essentially a doggie high chair).

Sloan in his first bailey’s chair (big upgrade from his garbage can 😀)

Through trial and error we found that he did best with normal dry puppy food kibble and water and then had to sit in his chair for 30min when he was done eating and drinking, and small frequent meals worked best for him. So I did that 6 times a day. Did I mention that I work on the road?  So guess who was in the back of her SUV with a puppy in a Bailey’s chair in random parking lots and approaches when we were in rural communities. With Gunner in tow waiting patiently for us to start driving again. In no time at all Sloan helped us get him in the chair at meal time and as soon as he was done he’d fall fast asleep until the timer went off to let him out. Then he’d be back to normal playful puppy, bugging Gunner and us to play with him and love him.

Sloan being a typical puppy chewing his “big brothers” bone. As a side note this was the first picture that sold on the stock photography sites.

Sloan was doing better with the chair and eating routine, but by no means had he stopped regurgitating. It had decreased but definitely hadn’t quit. There were many loads of laundry done because of him, and all of us had to change our clothes (or in Gunner’s case have a bath) because we got in the path of his regurgitation at one point or another.

As he got older and I felt we had the “recipe” of time in chair and consistency of food and water down pat I read about acupuncture helping with megaesophagus. I thought, why not, can’t hurt and it might help. So I contacted a veterinary clinic that did acupuncture, they had never tried it to help with megaesophagus, but were willing to try if I was. So we began his acupuncture treatments. At first I wasn’t sure that they were helping. So I quit, and then I realized how much they were helping so quickly started again. Anyone who has a dog with a megaesophagus should definitely give it a try. It made a world of difference for him. 

Sloan with his acupuncture needles
Sloan sleeping with his acupuncture needles

This was my first experience with acupuncture and I wasn’t sure how it would go. I mean really, what dog wants to be a pin cushion. But he didn’t seem to mind it at all. Infact within minutes of getting them all placed he would be fast asleep. He loved going to the clinic, was always so excited to see everyone, then they would put us in a room, rub some lavender essential oil between his eyes, wait a few minutes and then place all the needles. I was impressed with how well it all went. He never flinched or fought us, just sat patiently while he became the proverbial pin cushion and then would lie down and often sleep. 

So far all I’ve focused on is what was wrong with Sloan, but there is so much more to tell about him. He was a “normal” dog in every other way. So I think he needs a second post to talk about his “dog” life.