By Alison Schackman
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.
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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.
Ziggys 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, wouldnt walk and spiked a fever. We covered him with wet
towels and I sat up with him all night. In the morning, he couldnt 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.
Zigyys blood showed low albumin levels and high eospohinils in his blood count. The
joint tap showed milky white blood cells. He wasnt 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
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
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
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 hasnt 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 hell sleep straight through the
next day, its a welcome improvement.
.. Please, either dont 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. Auras brave story and Ziggys ongoing one should serve as a warning
to all Afghan owners.
With love to all who have helped Ziggy with healing and
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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