Yukon's Passing

May, June 2001

It's been two and 1/2 years since Yukon broke his leg and was subsequently diagnosed with cancer. In the last year or so we noticed a change in his behavior: he was more easily fatigued, and as a consequence we started taking him on shorter walks, especially when it was hot. We could attribute that to his advancing age (now nine), but what we couldn't explain was that he started to drag his rear toes/feet, on walks. I talked to our Vet about this and she said would be appropriate to schedule a neurological consult. In the next week Yukon took a hard fall so we scheduled the consult.

The Neurologist examined Yukon's limbs in several tests and also checked his spine for tenderness. Yukon seemed to have good reactions in his fore limbs, but seemed to have reduced sensitivity in his hind limbs (wouldn't flip over his toes, if they were forcibly curled in). In addition, the neurologist found tenderness in his spine possibly indicating a herniated disc. A MRI was recommended for further exploration of the spinal sensitivity. After the consult, we stopped walking him twice a day and took him only for a short evening walk.

The Vet also recommended Synovi-MSM (Glucosamine and Methlysulfonyl-methane). We got the Synovi-MSM on a Thursday and added it to Yukon's food starting that night. By Saturday we were noticing that Yukon seemed much more flexible, and was stumbling less, he was feeling much better. The effect probably peaked early that next week, and by the next Saturday things were bad again... probably the Glucosamine couldn't have kicked in that fast, so perhaps the MSM had some anti-inflammatory action that eased his movement, but the effect was short lived. I called the Vet the following Monday reporting Yukon's brief positive results, and regression. She recommended the next step while we considered the MRI, anti-inflammatory steroids.

June 26, 2001

The next day I picked up the steroids, but when I arrived home, I found Yukon at home, trying to hop/drag himself to the small pond we have in the back yard. I ran over and picked him up wheel-barrow style and managed to get him over to his water dish where he drank for some time. I tried to coax him to stand while drinking, but he couldn't. It was heartbreaking to see him like that because, by the look on his face he knew something was very wrong.

We ended up taking Yukon to a Pet emergency hospital where the ER Vet examined him. They started Yukon on fluids and a drip of the anti-inflammatory that we were just about to start giving him (dexamethasone). They said he would be comfortable so we left him there in their care.

June 27, 2001

I talked to our Vet early in the day and found that Yukon had not gotten better overnight. With that amount of anti-inflammatory, our Vet was of the opinion that if it were an inflamed disc we should have seen some real progress, but the pet hospital folks weren't reporting that.

To make matters worse the blood chemistry workup had come back, and Yukon had elevated calcium levels: indicative of cancer. With that information, and the less than substantial response to the steroids, the theory our Vet had was that Yukon had a tumor that was compressing his spinal column, not a herniated disc: likely inoperable.

We went to visit Yukon ourselves and found that he was just about as paralyzed as when I found him 24 hours previous.

Stephanie and I had agreed that with Yukon's age, his previous diagnosis of cancer, and the negative prospects for any possible surgery, we didn't think that subjecting him to the MRI was worth the additional information we might glean. We stayed with Yukon while the ER vet put him to sleep.

Yukon, my first dog, will be remembered lovingly in our hearts and and minds. We hope he has found his flock to watch over in the next life.

Stephanie Bloomfield
Scott Presnell
Last modified: Sunday, December 18, 2005 17:14 PST