25 March 2009

Mistral


It's been nearly a month since the last Mia and Mistral report.

At first, the days passed pretty well - life was good. Mia was still scared when a stranger arrived, yet there was and is improvement. She now plays with other dogs when we are all here alone. Mistral just ate (always hungry) - and the pair of them decided thievery was their forte. One day. whilst I was out, they broke into the kitchen area, pulled down the rubbish and wrecked it, grabbed a 15 kilo sack of dog food off the counter and promptly ate a quarter of it. Mistral's stomach was 4 times its normal size - I don't know how she walked. After that, I invested in four chains and four padlocks and now have to lock each babygate when I go out.

Then I noticed that Mistral seemed to be deteriorating.

To go back to the beginning, or rather the beginning of their new life here which seems ages ago but actually it was on the 30th December that they arrived here from their Hell Hole. Not that long ago.

On the day they arrived I remember thinking that Mistral could be pregnant. Her stomach was too big for her body - distorted somehow. Or perhaps she was full of worms but then she'd been wormed the day before she left Beziers.

When I took her for the first vet's visit we talked it over, we both knew she couldn't be pregnant and I put forward the idea that perhaps she had a tumour. The vet said she'd take a look when she opened her up to sterilize her. In the event, she wasn't able to do this as she was only dealing with the area of reproduction. When I collected her she suggested she should go on a diet. I put her on a Light Diet but within a week she started losing weight around the ribs yet that distended stomach never left her. I wondered if perhaps it was her disgusting habit of eating poop but I have to say the thought of a tumour never left me.

Last week I took her to the vet for a checkup. Her mammary tumours seemed hot (the vet had told me these can shrink back after sterilisation and mostly they had - the idea being that eventually they'd need removing). My vet took one look at her and said she had gone downhill since she'd last seen her. Her skin was much dryer and more flaky, and her stomach was bigger. She made an appointment for her to have an ultrasound. On Tuesday mornings (yesterday) a specialist in ultra-sound comes with her machine from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Cap d'Ail.


I knew we were going to find the worst so for the last few days, Mistral has been thoroughly spoiled eating whatever she wants and as much as she wants. You can see in the photograph above - taken three days ago - how big her stomach was and that's before spoiling her with extra food.

We got her up on the table and within a minute, the specialist found a tumour on one of the adrenal glands, which are attached to the kidneys. The ACTH hormone, produced by the pituitary gland, moves through the blood stream and signals the adrenal glands near the kidneys to produce corticosteroids. In a healthy dog, it is a self-balancing system. However, when a tumor develops in the pituitary or adrenal glands, the level of required corticosteroids is compromised. This leads to Cushings disease and that is what Mistral was showing signs of - poor coat, distended stomach - eventually it would lead to worse symptoms.

These tumors send inaccurate signals to various systems and cause an imbalance in the otherwise balanced body functions. All attempts made by the body to restore normalcy are of no use, and once Cushings disease has been contracted, it doesn't go away. This is why Mistral was crazy for food - (and eating poop) - all the wrong messages were being sent to her brain.

Some of these tumours are benign and can be treated to a degree, with the dog having a reasonable quality of life and some are malignant. The expert told me Mistral's was malignant and that eventually it would spread to the liver and lungs.

Mistral wasn't going to get better. I asked if she was in pain and the vet said probably not pain but that she'd be uncomfortable. I'd noticed an awkwardness in her walk and some difficulty in getting up off the sofa. We talked long and hard and I could see it was the moment - that it wouldn't be right letting her get sicker. Mistral has never been a happy dog, incredibly needy, craving affection all the time and never playing with another dog. She always had a look of desperation in her eyes - she always looked so sad. Even when lying next to me on the sofa - me stroking her - she was never able to relax and enjoy it but was continually tensed, pushing me, pawing me for more even as she got it. Nothing was ever enough. I don't know if this was caused by her early life - the endless litters she had and the abuse she suffered - and perhaps by her illness too - desperation for food, desperation for affection - the messages to the brain had got muddled.

So yesterday morning, she went to Doggy Heaven, eating a handful of biscuits as the vet put the needle into her.

I'm glad now that the vet didn't find the tumour earlier - at least she had nearly three months here living in comfort. I do wish though she'd had longer. God knows, she deserved more, so much more. But thank God that at least she didn't die in that dreadful place - she'd have suffered so - they'd not have taken her to a vet, they'd have left her to die.

In the photo below you see Mia on the coffee table with Dotty and Peggy, pug visitors - Mistral is yawning on the sofa behind her. So you can see how well Mia has come along. Mia, who was absolutely in the worst condition of the two on arrival, is now glowing with health physically - and learning to cope with people, albeit slowly.

And since yesterday, I have worried that Mia would keep looking for Mistral but so far - and it's now over 24 hours, she doesn't seem at all bothered.

I'm sorry to give such awful news. And thank you so much to everyone who has been so encouraging. You know, despite all this, I'd do it again. At least we got her out of that dreadful place and she had nearly three months of comfort and good food and love - yes, I'm sure she knew she was loved. Poor sweet Mistral. I do so wish it had been longer...

31 comments:

martha said...

I can't comment yet. I just want to cry. But I agree at least she had a few months of ease and love before the end.

Nancy L. said...

Oh Jilly... I'm so sad to hear about Mistral's passing. You knew what you were in for, true, but as you said, it would have been good to have her for a little longer. But, in the end, she had what every dog deserves...a loving home, people who care and the experience of being a beloved companion. Even if it were for a day...that would have been enough.
God Bless you for seeing her to the end of her life--a most precious gift.

Teri said...

Oh, how this hurts.

Bless you for taking these dogs into your life and thanks, Jilly, for composing this post. I know I've been one of many to avidly check "postcards" for news of "les girls." Certainly, no one could have offered more to dear Mistral.

goodnameforadog said...

This is so sad. I'm sorry.

Teri said...

Second post - I forgot to say your portrait of Mistral is lovely, just lovely! From the yellow flower in the rocks to the grassblade hanging from her mouth, the photograph sings. And she is so beautiful. Thank you.

nathalie in avignon said...

That top photo of Mistral is a beautiful tribute to her - and I like the one where she's lying on the sofabed too. She has that sweet look that I'll always remember her for.

Mistral was such a needy dog, pawing for attention all the time - no amount of petting was ever going to be enough, but I don't think there could have been a better home for her to spend her last months than yours. I am so glad she got that beautiful time with you after the horrendous time she had earlier.

This is a story of love and care. Thanks for sharing it with us Jilly.

lady jicky said...

Oh Jilly I feel for you. Mistral is in heaven with my rescue Rosie. Like you, I thought it was so mean that she only had a year with me but someone (I wonder, was it you?) said to me - in dog years , thats 7 years. So your Mistral would have had 3yrs (?? not good at maths) with you!!! I felt better and so should you. Those girls had love, attension , the vet and food . No violence and peace. Give Mia a big huge for me.
Love, Melinda and Kenzo (who is being a very naughty puppy)

Sara said...

While Mistral's story is very sad, I am so glad that she had those three months of love and caring. You gave her a gift that she would not have had - and she knew she was loved. I am convinced of it.

Catherine said...

This story, Jilly, is at the same time so sad by its end, and comforting knowing she lived 3 monthes of complete peace as a "member" of your family on whom she could count to feel love. Once in her life. Some others haven't this chance.

Virginia said...

Jilly, I left a comment on Menton. The portrait of her is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing her with us.
V

Freda L said...

Dear Jilly. As I read and now write there are tears on my cheeks but I give thanks to you that Mistral had 3 months of love and that she died with dignity.

Lessie said...

I'm so sorry! I'm glad though that Mistral knew you. Her life ended quietly and peacefully, knowing love.

maria said...

Jilly, you gave Mistral the best three months of her life. But most of all, you did not allow her to suffer.

She will be missed by all of us.

spacedlaw said...

Poor Mistral! But at least she has been well treated in the last three months of her life.
Mia looks very good. We can see how much love those dogs get at your place.

Judy - So California said...

Jilly, I visit from Virginia's blog and I've watched since les girls came to your home. Bless you for the time you gave dear Mistral. I too believe she knew she was loved. I also believe my Dad is up there minding all these loved pets that we send on before us. She's in good hands and she will continue to be loved. I am so very sorry.

altadenahiker said...

Heartbreaking. So glad Mia is doing well.

Bibi said...

Jilly, I am so, so sorry for poor little Mistral. What heartache for you, but you also know in your heart you made her last months on earth a heaven for her.

I'm sure you'll always be thinking of her, and she'll manifest her spirit in the wind...Mistral.

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

Thank you for your efforts and accomlishments. My mother-in-law will before long be facing the same decision with one of her beloved two dogs, and it will be very difficult for her to cope.

Snapshutter said...

So so sorry to hear about this. But at least she went onward in a peaceful way, not dreadful like you know it would have been in the hell hole. I know it must have been hard for you, it always is, no matter how many times you go through it. But at least you can take comfort in the fact you made her feel nurtured and loved during the last part of her life, and that's what was on her as she left.

Jilly said...

Thankyou so much to everyone who has left a comment. I can't tell you how helpful it is to have your support. I really mean that. Thankyou.

Meanwhile, Mia doesn't appear to miss Mistral at all - she hasn't looked for her and is actually much calmer. It's so strange. I thought she would be an even more lost dog. She has attached herself more to me tho, which is perhaps a symptom of missing Mistral but perhaps without understanding why.

Julie said...

Beauutifully told story, Jilly. Thank you.

PJ said...

For me, the last photo says everything. I'm certain Mistral never thought she would have these last few months and I'm aso very certain her death under her previous circumstances would have been beyond awful. You're a good, sweet mum, Jilly.

oldmanlincoln said...

I hope you won't mind too much, but my love of dogs brings me here today and I read this post and loved what you are doing. I think I told you that once before. I am so sorry for the dog who didn't make it. I am so happy about the one that did.

Julie said...

How you all doing?

How is Mia? And yourself?

Mo06 said...

Very sad to read this, but at least Mistral received love and care in her last weeks.

Thanks for sharing this.

Small City Scenes said...

As you and everyone else has mentioned--at least you got her out of the hell hole. She did get to experience kindness and she thanks you. Yes she does--from her star in the heavens. MB

Angie said...

I am so sorry about Mistral, but you gave her the best days of her life.

lady jicky said...

Jilly - I wish you all a Happy Easter and give those puppies (all dogs are puppies at heart) a big easter egg kiss.
How are you and Mia going?

Neva said...

I haven't checked in for awhile as my life got busy without a working computer and then the holidays.....I am so sorry to here about Mistral and I know it was a month ago, but how wonderful her life was with you.....I am sure she would've suffered unbearably in the HELL HOLE. Peace, Jilly.

frenchie4moi said...

Dearest Jilly,

This is a late note and I don't even know if you will get this. My heart is full of love and admiration for you. You are a good person to have done so much for these dogs whom you saved from Hell's Hole.

Nancy

Yoork said...

Oh, I'm so sorry, she's in a good place now though.

Related Posts with Thumbnails