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By Alison Schackman
Allure Deep Dark Secret
Born 1-28-03

I was first exposed to Afghan Hounds as a teenager. We had a beautiful black masked blonde named Serge. With him, I experienced my first true love of a dog.

Years later my husband and I decided to get a dog. Not having much money, we purchased a lab mix. God rest his soul, but he was a trial everyday of his thirteen years. When he was 12, we decided to get a puppy. I convinced my husband to try an Afghan. After looking for a pup for over a year, I found a breeder with puppies available. Through on-line pictures, I picked one of the black masked silver brindle males. We named him Ziggy.



We picked up Ziggy at a lure coursing event in April, 2003. When I saw him across a field, I started crying. Even from a distance, there was a recognition of how special he was. Ziggy was a happy, active puppy who was always smiling. He was brave and adventurous, gentle and loving.

Ziggy’s problems started in November 2003 at age 10 months, shortly after some immunizations. He started running a fever and was sleepy. My vet put him on antibiotics and he started to perk up. The fever soon returned and was off and on for another two months. Tests were run that all came back within the normal range. Ziggy had good days and bad days. It was a frustrating and confusing period with no real answers to why this beautiful boy was so sick.



During the night on February 14, 2004, Ziggy became very lethargic, wouldn’t walk and spiked a fever. We covered him with wet towels and I sat up with him all night. In the morning, he couldn’t get up and was lying in his own urine. We rushed him to the Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center in Langhorne, PA.

He was admitted to the intensive care unit at the hospital for tests and treatment. Over the next seven days, Ziggy was subjected to every test they could think of: joint taps, Bone Marrow Aspirate, Spinal Fluid Tap, Abdominal Ultrasound, Thoracic Radiograph……everything was normal, but he was no better. Zigyy’s blood showed low albumin levels and high eospohinils in his blood count. The joint tap showed milky white blood cells. He wasn’t eating or drinking, he was depressed, he was limping, his fever was in the range of 104.4 to 105.5. He was given every antibiotic you can think of; orally and intravenously; he was on hetastarch for kidney problems.

The hospital was a forty minute drive that we made twice daily. We visited with Ziggy for five to six hours a day. For the most part, there was no recognition from him. He sometimes would lay his head in my lap before falling back into sleep.

On day three, the hospital called earlier than our 10:00 daily call. They were worried about Ziggy and asked me to bring anyone he loved to perk him up. We paraded in with his favorite people, favorite foods, toys and blankets. I was not letting him give up. Days four and five were more of the same. The fever dropped, but he was lethargic and limp, not seeming to care what happened. On day six, the doctors decided to infuse him with a large dose of prednisone. They called me in the morning and told me he was a different dog. He was reacting, eating, awake……he was discharged on five different meds taking sixteen pills a day. Ziggy was diagnosed with systemic immune disease; meaning his body was attacking its own tissues, joints and organs. We were warned that the prognosis was guarded, but that it was possible to keep him alive. Ziggy stayed on 20 mgs of prednisone daily for four months. He was weaned off and hasn’t had them since.

The best I can say about this period is that he was alive. He was not living, though. He became dog aggressive, cranky, whiny and lazy. He started to steadily gain weight. In June, 2004, he was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. He was put on thyrozine. Nothing really changed. His behavior and weight stayed the same.

In August 2004, we brought another afghan puppy into our lives. We had found out that our old dog was dying and we knew Ziggy needed a playmate. Jazz is a black-masked, red brindle, who is a bouncing bundle of energy. It took about a month, but Ziggy and Jazz bonded. They are now inseparable.

He started treatment with Dr. Dhava Khalsa, a holistic vet and healer, because traditional medicine offers no cure for his immune problems. Dr. Khalsa has treated Ziggy with the Jaffe-Mellor technique, which is a method of evaluating the autonomic nervous system and correcting any glitches through the use of manual acupressure and lasers. Ziggy has been given RegenRX Liver R-1, lupus path homacord, RegenRX Lymphatics R-8, Thuja, graphites and psorinum. The Thuja is for vaccination side-effects; graphites for his metabolism and psorinum for chronic illness.

He is now on a diet: all the fruit, vegetables and butcher bones he wants. Some form of protein daily, chicken, fish or an egg. High fiber health food cereal mixed in with his morning veges. I do believe he has started to lose weight. One can only hope.

For now, our Ziggy shows true signs of living. He may be 115 pounds and shaggier than an Afghan should be (he was shaved in the hospital and then again due to a skin rash on his tummy), but we love him. He now has days where we spot him running in the yard with Jazz. Even if this means he’ll sleep straight through the next day, it’s a welcome improvement.

Ziggy story continues……….. Please, either don’t immunize your dogs, or get titers to see what their bodies really need. Jazz has had his puppy shots, but he will never get another immunization. To see both of my boys go through this would be more than I can bear. Aura’s brave story and Ziggy’s ongoing one should serve as a warning to all Afghan owners.

With love to all who have helped Ziggy with healing and prayers:

Dr. Frank Gadusek and staff; Dr. Bisque Jackson, Dr. Dhava Khalsa, Beth Muller, Susan Johnson and Debbie Fulkerson.


Editors Note: Ziggy passed over the Rainbow Bridge in November of 2008. We will miss you Ziggy and we know you are at peace now running with your brother Aura.


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