Tuesday, July 31, 2018


I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, right after Ivy passed, but I needed a little more time to think about it.

This is what I wrote on Facebook/Instagram on July 18:

Our Ivy passed away yesterday, and my heart is hurting. Steve and I first found Ivy at an animal shelter a few months after we were married. Her birthday was guessed as June 14, the day after our wedding, and it felt meant to be. She was our first baby, and we loved our life with our sweet and affectionate puppy. She would wake up every morning as if it was Christmas morning. She was with us when we moved two times and brought home three new baby boys. She missed having our full attention, but she must have loved her brothers because she always wanted to kiss their little hands, and she howled every time one of them was sad. We began to call her "the dog with nine lives" as she experienced a variety of accidents and health issues, and still miraculously bounced back. But three years ago, a traumatic brain injury resurfaced as epilepsy, and between the grand mal seizures and the heavy medication, we began to watch her decline. She was still a wonderful companion, and we tried our hardest to keep her healthy and give her a full life. Last August when we moved to Indiana, we had a lot of anxiety about taking her with us. Her seizures were triggered when we went on vacation or took her in the car to the vet. We didn't think she would survive the long car trip, let alone all of the changes that would come after it. Steve's parents graciously took her into their home, right across the street from our big yellow house, and she enjoyed living with them. I had many moments of guilt and grief, but I knew it was the best decision for her. Yesterday morning, Steve and I said our goodbyes over the phone, and I've been in tears ever since. We are so grateful she lived to be nine, though we selfishly wish we could have had more years with her. Ivy, I will think of you every time I sweep the boys' crumbs off of the floor (I never had to with you around!), and every time I cook hamburger meat or eat handfuls of air-popped popcorn. You were the best, big girl, and you brought us so much joy. I love you always, Ivy.

This was the day we brought her home from the animal shelter. She was four months-old and about fifteen pounds. A police officer had brought her into the shelter, along with her mom and brother, so we figured they had been living outside for those four months. We got rid of her fleas and tapeworm, and she was perfect :)

She was so loving and snuggly as a puppy!

We brought her with us everywhere. If we went into the grocery store, she sat in the front seat of the car and stared at the store entrance until we came out again. We lived on the third floor of an apartment building, and she wasn't quite tall enough to see out the window. We put a box in front of the window so she could put her front paws up on it and look out. If we went to a movie or out to dinner, we would see her little head watching for us every time we came home.

When she was a year old, we let her off the leash at a church picnic, and we never saw what happened, but somehow she got seriously injured. After several frustrating trips to the vet where they couldn't figure out what was wrong, they determined she had a head/neck injury. With medicine and time, she seemed to heal.

A year later, when Nolan was two months-old, Ivy ran headfirst into the sliding glass door of our new first-floor apartment. She had thought it was open, and the bang was so loud that I actually heard it from the bedroom with earplugs in my ears. Again, she had a serious head/neck injury, and she was prescribed several medicines. She recovered, but she was never quite the same dog afterward. She didn't have the same desire to play fetch or chew on toys, and she started to growl sometimes when we touched her around the neck area - as if she were scared we would hurt that injured spot.

Aside from those things, she was still a happy and energetic dog, who very much cared about her humans and never wanted to be alone.

We moved again, this time to our big yellow house, and we were so happy that Ivy could have her own yard for the first time! She loved her new baby brother, Ephraim.

In the summer of 2015, we went on vacation to Minnesota and left Ivy with my mom and stepdad. My mom called me towards the end of our trip, telling me that they had to take Ivy to the vet because she seemed to be having multiple seizures while she was sleeping. Even the vet was surprised that a dog with no previous seizure activity had ten grand mal seizures in two days. We really thought that this could be the end of Ivy's life, and we hurried home. But with a high dose of phenobarbital, she seemed to be okay. We had to give her two phenobarbital pills a day from that point on.

I tell this story in case someone out there needs to hear it for their own dog with epilepsy. Ivy was seizure-free for about three months, but the next vacation we took, she seized again. This made us realize that they were stress-induced. The grand mals were horrifying to watch. She would hit her head repetitively on the floor, her teeth chattering and limbs flailing, and she would wake up with a bloody mouth and total unawareness of what just happened. She had 2-3 seizures a month, and the vet didn't like that, so she prescribed Ivy a second drug, potassium bromide.

A couple of months later, Ivy ate a baby wipe. Ivy loved eating baby wipes, but she couldn't digest them, and she always threw them up. This time, she couldn't stop throwing up, so we put her on a chicken and rice diet to get her back to normal.

At this point, Ivy became completely lethargic. She barely moved for days, and we got so concerned. We couldn't even get her to go outside to go potty. She was also ataxic in her back legs, so if she slipped on the wood floor, she would lay on her stomach and "swim" with all four legs moving, unable to get up.

I took her to the vet, desperate for some help. I had learned on my own that the high salt content in storebought dog food can negate the effects of potassium bromide. So, with Ivy on the salt-free chicken & rice diet, perhaps the potassium bromide dose became too strong? The side effects of too much KBr indeed were lethargy and ataxia, but the vet denied that possibility. She didn't give me any advice towards helping Ivy, and she seemed to hint at putting Ivy down.

At this point, I took Ivy's health into my own hands. I began weaning her off of the potassium bromide. Even though she was on this second drug, she still had occasional seizures, so it wasn't worth it. I also began to make homemade dog food for her. Every week, I cooked a big batch of ground turkey with peas, zucchini, carrots, spinach, and rice. She also ate bananas, egg shells, and spoonfuls of coconut oil and pumpkin. And slowly but surely, she came back to us. She started running again and wagging her tail, and we were so happy! I can't say enough about the importance of a good diet for your dog. And now I know that sometimes mom's intuition trumps the vet's opinion.

In 2017, with our new baby, August, Ivy had to learn to roll with the punches once again. We didn't have a whole lot of extra time to dote on her, but being 8 years-old, she really didn't need that much.

This photo is how I'll remember our life with Ivy. She was always underfoot, always there for every moment with our baby boys.

And always hanging out in the kitchen whenever I was making something :)

These photos are of us saying goodbye last summer. We had a feeling that she wasn't going to live much longer after we left.

We loved seeing her on our visits back to Pennsylvania. August, especially, was excited to see her!

This was just about a month before she passed. Epilepsy inevitably took our girl, but I'm proud of how hard that we fought for her, even when it got difficult.

I'm so glad that God gave Ivy to us, and I know he saw how much we loved her.

1 comment:

  1. So sorry for your loss! Pets are much loved members of the family! Ivy was a beautiful girl, and you can tell how much she was loved.


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