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Starbuck1.jpg (22436 bytes)By Debbie Bulgher
Aries Starbuck
4/7/97 to 8/3/98


What a precious little 8-week-old puppy I met at the airport. My very first Afghan Hound! I couldn’t wait to get him home and start our new life together.

Little did I know that I would only get to share 14 months with him.

Oh but did we have a grand time during those months! He was the happiest little puppy, and an absolute delight. He chased the cats, slept with them, and used them as a pillow. They licked his face and he ‘nitted’ their bodies. He even liked my big Mollucan Cockatoo, who tried to bite his tail every time he stopped at her cage and put his big paw in between the bottom of the cage floor grill and the pan where her food would drop. My Cockatoo learned quickly that it was fun to throw food at Starbuck and watch him catch it as he eagerly sat underneath her outside perch waiting for handouts! And the food he would scarf down was chopped veggies!!

We entered an obedience class when he was 10 months of age and what a clown he was!!! Definitely the hit of the class! Everyone loved him and enjoyed watching us work, as it was obvious that Starbuck was thoroughly enjoying himself and all the attention. He knew he was a king of dogs. We even got a 3rd place ribbon at the final exam! My obedience instructor had never had a sighthound place before!

We went in for his first year vaccine booster shots - rabies and DHLPP. Starbuck was a perfectly healthy dog and the vet gave him a clean bill of health. That was on a Friday at lunchtime. When I came home from work that night I could tell he wasn’t feeling good. He was very lethargic and lay in his favorite chair and really didn’t want to move. He did eat that night however. The next morning I called my vet to tell him Starbuck didn’t feel well, his tail was down, and he appeared to be walking stiffly. I was concerned. My vet laughed me off, said I worried too much, that he was just sore from his shots (a common reaction), and to go give him an aspirin.

Starbuck2.jpg (17811 bytes)By Saturday evening Starbuck’s temperature was 104 degrees and his breathing was noisy. Needless to say we were off to the Emergency Clinic. I told them he had been fine and the only thing that had happened was that he got his first year booster shots the day before. The emergency vet pooh-poohed the idea that those shots could be a factor.

After listening to his chest and taking x-rays, it was determined that both lungs had collapsed and the middle right lobe was twisted. And Starbuck had walked into the Clinic! There was a great deal of fluid build-up around his lungs, and he was subsequently hooked up to monitoring devices and had drainage tubes placed in his chest.

Sunday was spent continually draining fluid, taking vital signs and blood work, and prepping him for surgery. The internist who would operate on him would do so Monday morning. I sat with Starbuck most of the day. I had brought in my nightshirt and stuffed toys with his and the cats’ smell on them to keep him company when I wasn’t there.

I was very optimistic on Monday morning as the internist who would operate on him said that from looking at Starbuck’s x-rays and vital signs he had full confidence that he would be able to go home by Wednesday without any ill effects. The internist had cut out many cancerous lung lobes in dogs, and this operation would be similar to that. He would go in through the ribs and once the middle twisted lobe was removed the top and bottom right lobes would expand into that space and he should have full lung capacity. He said that it is always the middle right lobe that twists, and that it occurs as a result of fluid build-up. He said the lungs are buoyant and that when you get fluid in the lung the potential is there for the lobe to twist.

The operation that was supposed to be a piece of cake wasn’t. When they opened Starbuck up he was so filled with fluid that they couldn’t even manually inflate his lungs. His back lobes were a mass, and his left lobe (which I was told is the one you can’t live without since it surrounds the heart) was full of blood and fluid. The middle right lobe was indeed twisted and should have been easy to remove, but there was no more breathing room in his lungs anywhere, and he basically drowned in his own blood. Starbuck3.jpg (14881 bytes)

Starbuck died on the operating table. The internist appeared shaken that his prognosis was so off. I insisted an autopsy be performed, but they did not discover anything.

The diagnosis was that Starbuck had lung lobe torsion. He did not have pneumothorax or chlyothorax. The vets had no clue as to where the fluid build-up came from to cause his lung lobe to twist. They were reluctant to discuss a vaccine related connection.

Vaccine reactions are, however, real. The literature shows they can take different forms depending on the individual, resulting in loss of life or a life with a compromised immune system allowing other problems to develop.  My vet was very uncomfortable talking to me about this subject, but he did admit to it happening in his practice. There has not been a vet that I have talked with since that is unfamiliar with vaccine reactions. Ask yours.

Starbuck was healthy before his vaccine shots and started his downhill slide that very same day. He had a hypersensitivity reaction to those shots, with accompanying fluid build-up in his lungs, ultimately resulting in lung lobe torsion and his death.

When I went in to see Starbuck for the last time he was laying in a cheery Batman sleeping bag, with his head on a towel, and the stuffed toys I had brought to keep him company nearby. I held his paws and kissed his face. It was hard to comprehend he was not just sleeping.Starbuck4.jpg (21814 bytes)


We went walking every evening. I would sit on the chair and put my shoes and socks on and he would jump up behind me in the chair and lay his head on my shoulder, watching as the last shoelace was tied. I still miss that.





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