Whisper's was a case where financial help wasn't needed, just a team of volunteers to help with care
Two seriously ill dogs and an incapacitated owner - potentially a recipe for disaster
Whisper suddenly became dangerously ill and collapsed, on the same day that her owners were at Cambridge Vet School deciding with the oncology consultant whether Emily should have a hind leg amputated, due to bone cancer. They returned home, already in a distressed state, to find 13 week old Whisper disorientated and staggering. She was rushed immediately to the vets and on arrival was semi-conscious, apparently blind and making a low groaning sound. She was put on a drip overnight and the following morning was scanned to confirm the size and position of her livershunt. She was referred to a specialist the same day.
In almost all cases of livershunt, affected puppies will gradually show physical signs, such as failure to thrive, head pressing (due to pain) and general malaise. So between blood tests, in the absence of physical illness, there would appear to be no immediate rush to schedule surgery - or even switch to a special diet, for a pup who was only "suspected" of having a shunt. However, in Whisper's case, she developed all the usually gradual symptoms in one hit - known as "sudden onset hepatic encephalopathy". She was very lucky to survive the sudden flooding of toxins to her brain (which is what caused the collapse and the temporary blindness, known as "amaurosis fugax")
The PAWS team - Tina, Maureen, Brian, Chris & Bev
Whisper's owner needed help, when her husband seriously injured his back and was immobile for 3 weeks. At the same time, another of their Wolfhounds Emily, had bone cancer and needed to travel to Cambridge for treatment. Also, Emily's granddaughter Whisper, developed sudden onset hepatic encephalopathy due to liver shunt. Whilst waiting for her operation, Whisper developed pneumonia and a spinal paralysis. Whisper needed round the clock nursing, for 7 weeks and during this time, Emily also needed a lot of supportive care. Their owners said - "We didn't need financial help - but we did need people!"
Unfortunately, the specialist centre where she was initially referred was unable to offer surgery for at least 8 weeks and said that she would need to be stabilised 4 weeks anyway, on supportive therapy and medication. She was kept there for 3 days, during which time Emily made another visit to Cambridge for scans on her lungs. It was found that Emily's cancer had spread to her lungs already, so amputation was not an option. She was given a dose of chemotherapy and radiation - and sent home for palliative care. Shortly after Whisper was collected from the specialist, she developed kennel cough ............. which quickly turned into pneumonia ............. When another surge of toxins caused her to become paralysed from the mid spine, it seemed as though her short life would come to an end ........... BUT - with supportive therapy, coupage, passive physio, antibiotics and two body harnesses, Whisper the miracle puppy eventually got back on her feet and 7 weeks later was well enough to undergo the op to close her shunt.
Emily lived just long enough to see Whisper make a full recovery from surgery.
Since then, Whisper has gone from strength to strength.
What was achieved:
1. Members of the PAWS team acted as "vet buddies" to ensure that neither Emily nor Whisper injured themselves getting in and out of the van and during traveling to the many vet visits. Other team members looked after the other dogs at home, while their owner alternated taking both girls for their treatments.
2. The PAWS team helped with shopping and walking the other dogs, when Emily and Whisper were too ill to be left alone and their owner needed to nurse them round the clock.
3. By providing harnesses for Whisper, the PAWS team helped with her mobility and physiotherapy. They also helped with coupage, massage and encouraging her to eat. Whisper's owner said "The support from PAWS was instrumental in saving Whisper's life and allowing Emily to be well looked after in her final weeks. We could not have managed during this stressful time, without them."