We purchased Pearl from a breeder we researched online in December of last year (2015). She is a gorgeous dog, sweet natured, great with our two girls but she has come with so many problems. We were not told when we purchased her that she had a recessed vulva and then when we brought it up with the breeder we were told it would go away after her first heat. While waiting for that first heat to come and for her vulva to tuck up (and thus prevent bacteria from entering her vulva) we experienced a total of 3 UTIs and a bacterial skin infection (with pustules that formed around her vulva and across her stomach and nipples) all in the space of about 6 months. Thus begins the story of Pearl’s vet/training bills.
Pearl also had some behavioral issues that made her a “special needs” dog. Despite being with us from the time she was a puppy, and never having been mistreated, she was and still is extremely fearful of people. So first we tried a basic puppy class at our local parks and recreation office. Pearl loved socializing with the other dogs but still didn’t warm up to people. Determined to conquer this problem (I had really wanted a friendly, preferably outgoing giant lap dog), we next hired a private trainer to work with her. She did great one on one with the trainer but after 8 sessions we were still left with a dog that was terrified of strangers. The bills were starting to mount but I talked my husband into a last ditch effort to see a behaviorist at WSU veterinary teaching hospital. The behaviorist was wonderful, gave us behavior exercises to work on with her as well as a prescription for Prozac and Solliquin. We were very hopeful the medication might help her with her anxiety and started her on it right away. Within a week Pearl began losing her appetite and became lethargic, both of which happen to be side effects of Prozac and while we were concerned we were also sure this was a short term issue that would resolve itself once her body became used to the new medication. Two weeks went by, and then three and she continued to lose weight, became more depressed to the point she didn’t even want to go for walks anymore and laid on the couch all day. The whole time we were in contact with the behaviorist who told us to taper down the medication but to continue to give it to her. We tapered her down as prescribed but there was no change in her behavior or mood. Finally at three weeks in Pearl started refusing to even eat the pill pockets we were giving to her with her medication and at that point the behaviorist told us to take her off it immediately and said that once her body had stabilized she’d try some different medication. We waited 4 days for the drug to clear her body and again there was no change in her appetite, mood or energy level. At this point Pearl had lost so much weight you could see her ribs and the behaviorist told us that whatever was going on with Pearl no longer could be linked to the medication but that there was something else going on with her instead. We found this out on a Sunday and the next day I had her into the vet to find out what was going on. We did a CBC and found out she was anemic and her white blood cells were extremely low indicating she had some internal bleeding going on. We ruled out heart worm and other tick related illnesses and at that point the vet recommended x rays and an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed an enlarged spleen, cysts on her left kidney and liver and an enlarged lymph node in her stomach area. At this point our local vet said she could not diagnose what was going on with Pearl and recommended we go to WSU veterinary training hospital to see an internal medicine specialist. We got an appointment Wednesday of that week, more blood work, another ultrasound and fine needle aspirates were done. Initially it was thought that Pearl, at 1 a little over 1 year old, had cancer and although we were relieved to find out the next day that it was not in fact cancer, we were told instead that she had an abcess on her spleen and that she would most likely need a splenectomy, the estimate of which at the veterinary teaching hospital was between $3500-$4500. We had already spent $1300 diagnosing the problem and between that and all the other medical/behavioral bills we had incurred over the past 8 months our savings was drained. We also had pet insurance but were told that although this wasn’t a congenital issue it would not be covered. (Very, very frustrating.)
My heart was broken at this point because while I knew that a splenectomy would cure her, we just couldn’t afford it. I wasn’t ready to give up yet though so I called around and found a local vet who has quoted me anywhere between about $1200-$2000 to do the surgery. While this is much more reasonable and possibly attainable we’ll still have a very hard time coming up with the money.
I need to add at this point that my husband is also currently battling serious medical issues of his own which have also taken their toll on our family financially. Not only are we faced with his medical bills but because he was not with the company for an entire year before he had to leave on short term medical disability his income was reduced by 40%. We’ve also been faced with increased childcare costs because of the trips we’ve had to make to a hospital that’s an hour and a half away from us for my husbands treatments and there’s been no way we’ve been able to afford all this on the 60% salary he’s currently receiving so again our savings has taken a major hit. We’ve already cut out all the “extras” like cable TV, high speed internet and done everything we can to lower our monthly phone bill but this hasn’t made a huge dent in our month to month expenses.
I realize there are so many pets and people out there in need and reading over their stories has made me tear up more than once. We are not expecting to come anywhere close to meeting our goal of $1200 but anything at this point would be a huge gift.
Pearl is not just a “dog”, she’s a family member and I can’t imagine life without her. I’m not sure what our options would be if we can’t get this life saving surgery for her because all the rescues I’ve contacted so far have said her medical needs/costs were too much for them to take on.
If you can help in any way we would again so appreciate it. Love, light and blessings to you all.