Cat’s Cradle’s Beaufort
July 8, 2000 – October 2, 2012
I have been, and always shall be, your friend.
In the fall of 2000 I proudly announced the addition to my crew of a little blue-eyed Catahoula puppy. Over the years I’ve shared stories and pictures of our trips through this blog, the Traildog email list, the Catahouligans group and elsewhere.
Yesterday I had one of the worst days of my life.
Beau had been sick for the last two months. It was something that came on relatively quickly. He’d been aging pretty well, but in the span of a few days he was starting to stumble and cough. He also missed meals, which was unlike him.
Working with my vet (Dr. J) over the next few weeks, the mystery illness was eventually revealed as a fungal infection in his lungs (most likely blastomycosis from living in the Ohio River Valley/Whitewater River Valley). We started him on treatment, but knew the prognosis for a fungal lung infection isn’t good for a young, healthy dog, let alone a 12-year-old. In addition to the lung infection the x-rays revealed arthritis along pretty much the entirety of his spine and an enlarged heart that pressed on his trachea. This was in addition to his mild hip dysplasia that was diagnosed at 2.
Beau started missing more and more meals no matter what I did, so he lost weight. He ended up losing about 10 pounds of muscle over the course of 2 months.
Last week we went for a checkup and while there was trouble drawing blood, his vitals looked good during the exam. Later his blood work came back with a continued elevated white blood cell count. We suspect his balance and coordination issues stemmed from damage to his nervous system due to the infection.
Beau seemed happy to go for a road trip when we left on Friday. He wasn’t his young self, of course, but was really good given what he’d been through the last two months. On Saturday morning he was NOT feeling it for Obedience, so I didn’t compete. When we got back to camp he flopped in the grass, had a good back scratch, ate some canned food and drank well. He didn’t seem any worse for wear, even playing with my friends and their puppies Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday night he drank water, but had trouble keeping it down. When he ate it took over a half hour to eat a can of food. Monday morning he drank but wouldn’t eat. He took some treats on the trip home and happily ate those. When we got home he again had trouble keeping down water, but I still hoped it was just due to drinking too much too fast. He refused to eat anything at all–which is beyond out of character.
Yesterday morning he got off my bed around 4 am and peed in the hall. I let him out to finish up while I cleaned the spot. When he came back in he flopped next to the bed and I could hear his breathing was labored.
I woke up a few hours later and couldn’t hear either dog fussing to get me out of bed–something they normally do. I came out to the living room to find more vomited water in the middle of the room and Beau off to the side near the front door with a patch (about 3-4″ square) of dark brown near his shoulder. I hoped it wasn’t blood, but it was (I’m still not sure if it was from his stomach or his lungs, but most likely it was his lungs given the infection) and immediately took him to the vet. While at the vet Beau passed a large volume of dark urine.
Dr. J was out, but my other vet, Dr. R, was in the office and knew what was going on. While listening to Beau’s chest Dr. R found a heart murmur that either had been missed the whole time or was a new development. His gums and lips were pale and cold. His white blood cell count was very high and his red cell count was dropping. I asked what the options were and the first was to keep him overnight with an IV to replace food and fluids since he couldn’t keep anything down. I asked if we did treatment how long he’d have and the answer was about a week. I decided that given the arthritis in his back, the HD, enlarged heart, heart murmur, the pressure on his trachea from his heart, the muscle loss, and the damage to his nervous system all on top of the fungal lung infection itself, that I wouldn’t ask him to go through any more. Dr. R said even for a young dog this is a very hard thing to beat and it was amazing Beau had made it this long. Right up until the end I thought for sure he was going to beat it–he was always so strong.
He was such a trooper through all of this, even licking my nose and settling into my lap while I said goodbye. Like the majority of our milestones, this was one we experienced as just the two of us.
My friends Mel and Jeff came to help me take him to the crematorium. I plan to have a Sigg water bottle made with his picture on it–an urn just doesn’t seem right for him.
The house is so very empty without him, even with Ranger here.
There are so many memories I have of my friend that I can’t even pick one that stands out above the others–being with me as family members came into or left this world, surviving a tornado under a tarp, scorching hot summer days, huddling together for warmth on winter trips, our first show wins, vehicle mishaps, big show wins, disappointing losses, my first working trial wins, stupid tricks, bad singing, my dad’s accident and its aftermath, comforting each other when sick or injured, changing jobs, clowning around at home, graduating college, good trips, bad trips, relocating for work with just each other for company for months, finishing a big mile multi-day just the two of us…
I’m going to miss him and our adventures and will always wish we’d had time for a few more.