Friday, April 8, 2011

Murphy, 1998-2011

Merlin and I met Anna and Murphy in 2006 when both our boys were competing in CPE agility in Elk Grove, California. Murphy's story was written by his owner, Anna Potter.

Murphy came into our household in July, 1998. He was my first dog and introduced me to the sport of agility and to the world of unconditional love.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature”. In my mind, Murphy was that masterpiece. He was a great, loyal companion (as long as someone else didn’t have better treats) and he always tried his best to please me.

I started noticing that Murphy was shuffling his rear feet while walking around the house in 2008. At first, I thought it was just the Corgi shuffle, but then I noticed his left leg sort of dragged while he was on the dog walk during an agility trial. He had also started refusing to take the A-Frame which caused us missing a lot of AKC qualifying points. In November, 2008 he was noticeably throwing out his left rear leg when he walked. I had him looked at by my vet and asked about DM but was told that DM in Corgis was just not that common and it was probably something else. We tried pain meds, but nothing changed.
Finally, with the urging of friends I went to another vet in the same practice and she connected me with UC Davis where he received an MRI and the blood test to verify that he did indeed have DM. This was in March, 2009. His blood test show “affected”.

Murphy started using his cart in the summer of 2009. He still had both rear legs able to walk. The left one was going down more often but he could still get around inside and outside well enough. He took to the cart fairly easily. He was always a dog that would do anything for a cookie. During the summer of ’09, I took him to a friend’s hot pool where he would swim, with my help, for a little exercise. By the end of that summer he could no long stand on his left leg. He started doing the seal walk around the house, using his right leg as a paddle to help him move.

Because of the stress on his shoulders, pulling such a lot of weight, I started giving him 25 mg of Tramadol and .25 of Deramaxx to help him with any pain he was experiencing.

As the DM progressed, he became very particular about his food. He was always a dog that would eat anything and everything. Now I found that I had to buy small bags of dog food, because toward the end of the bag he would decide that he didn’t like it anymore. He really never missed a meal because I would change his food and give him anything he wanted. He did, however, lose about 4 pounds during the course of the disease.

He started losing the use of his right leg during the summer of 2010. We used the cart to go potty and indoors he slowly stopped moving around the house. Because he always liked being close to me, he would let me know by giving me a gentle “woof” that he wanted to come, so I would pick him up and carry to wherever I was going to be.

He never really became incontinent. He would, however, start peeing as soon as I put him in his cart, so I made little diaper strip for him and lined it with “Light days/Kotex pads” to keep him from dripping until we got outside.
After December, 2010, Murphy became really anxious about being alone. I was still working and could not be with him all the time. He started chewing carpets and anything that was around. He chewed table legs, chair legs, stereo cords, the zipper out of his bed and so many other things. This problem became really bad. I tried to put him in an X-pen to keep him safe but he would chew his way out of it.

It was obvious that he was under a lot of stress. I tried increasing his pain meds and his Gabopentin but that did not seem to help. He was also having trouble sleeping at night and would wake up in an extreme panic, panting and a little frenzied. In March, I decided that it was time for me to help him find some peace. On March 18, I had my vet come to the house and put him to rest. The day before, he decided that he didn’t want to eat his dog food and he also wouldn’t take any of his pain meds. I stopped at McDonald’s and got him a hamburger which he ate really well. The next morning both he and Bella had Jack In The Box hamburgers for breakfast.

He spent the morning snuggled with me on the sofa (which was his most favorite thing to do) and I held him while he slipped away.

DM affected my life like any fatal disease affects anyone life. My husband died of cancer 15 years ago and my experience with Murphy brought up so many of the same emotions and memories. Watching a healthy, vital life deteriorate is extremely hard to do. What I once again was able to see was how noble and courageous Murphy worked through his disease. He had dignity and grace throughout the progression. He was “my little man” and I miss him.

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