By Debbie Bulgher
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 couldnt 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 wasnt feeling good. He was very lethargic and lay in his favorite
chair and really didnt want to move. He did eat that night however. The next morning
I called my vet to tell him Starbuck didnt 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
By Saturday evening Starbucks 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 wasnt there.
I was very optimistic on Monday morning as the internist
who would operate on him said that from looking at Starbucks 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
wasnt. When they opened Starbuck up he was so filled with fluid that they
couldnt even manually inflate his lungs. His back lobes were a mass, and his left
lobe (which I was told is the one you cant 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.
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.
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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