All Heart, Bulldog Tough
You know those people who work their whole lives only to retire and almost immediately fall apart? Well, to no surprise, I seem to be the dog version of that phenomenon.
After logging a nine-year career as the official mascot of Butler University and hanging up my custom Nike jersey this past May, it seems that my good health decided a retirement was in order as well.
By June, my body had started working against me, though it wasn’t outwardly apparent, until a little scratch formed on my shoulder. Pops thought it just a harmless bite mark or scratch, a souvenir from roughhousing with Butler Blue III (Trip). But when the surface area of the wound increased, Pops determined an appointment with Butler alumnus, Dr. Kurt Phillips at Mass Ave Animal Clinic, was in order.
When I got in to see Dr. Phillips, my “wound” had not only increased in size, but I started to develop more of them. And when Dr. Phillips shaved the area, it really became apparent just how serious these skin lesions were
After diligent work by Dr. Phillips, involving many tests, analysis of lab values, and some research, it was finally determined that I had developed Cushing’s Disease. To summarize, Cushing’s Disease occurs when a tumor forms on the pituitary gland in the brain, which sends mixed messages to the adrenal glands, which in turn causes the immune system and body to get out of whack.
As of last week, both Dr. Phillips and my dermatologist, Dr. Lori Thompson (Animal Dermatology Clinic of Indianapolis) were both confident in both my diagnosis and my long-term recovery.
As this point, we thought I was on the upswing, so my parents left Trip and me behind for a much-needed mini-vacation this past weekend. However, when they returned home on Sunday evening, they could tell I had taken a turn for the worse. My Calcinosis Cutis (skin nastiness) had not only worsened, but I wasn’t eating, my gums and eyes were pale, my front legs and paws were significantly swollen, my breathing was quickened/shallow/labored, and I lacked the strength to do much of anything. I take that back; I was strong enough to insist on a ride in my Burley Trailers Tail Wagon Ride. Still, my parents and I both knew something was up.
After consulting with Dr. Phillips, we thought it would be best to visit a 24-hour animal care facility late Sunday evening. So Pops loaded me into the Blue Mobile and off we went to Circle City Vets where it was found that I had developed fluid around my lungs and in my chest cavity, known as pleural effusion. So they tapped me like a keg and got busy draining it out.
I spent the night at Circle City Vets and was discharged on Monday morning with strict orders to head to the Purdue University Small Animal Hospital for further evaluation and treatment. At Purdue, Dr. Yang and her colleagues confirmed the pleural effusion and started treatment. Meanwhile, a cardiologist conducted an EKG to further evaluate the condition of my heart.
I’ve lived a transparent life, both on social media and out and about in the public eye for nine years. I figure there’s no reason to stop that now. So it’s with a heavy, slightly compromised, but still ticking heart that I tell you that I’ve been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), affecting both the left and right side of my heart.
To put it bluntly, I have heart failure (no connection to the Cushing’s Disease). It’s maybe a bit ironic for a dog that’s been all-heart over the last nine years to develop heart disease, but then again, it’s probably no coincidence that my heart has been maxed out.
As our coaches often say to the Butler student-athletes, “Leave it all on the field!” I certainly left it all on the field and frankly, I wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, I’m not certain there’s ever been a dog to live a life as charmed as mine.
No doubt, my diagnosis and subsequent prognosis is grim, but thanks to the great care I’ve received, I’ve recovered enough to be able to head home to be with those I love.
So the bad news is I have irreversible heart disease, and it’s likely I won’t be back to Butler any time soon. The good news is, I feel much better, I’m eating well, and I have some more time to spend with my family. I’m a lucky Dawg!
I would like to thank Dr. Phillips and his staff for their tireless efforts to treat me. Additionally, credit goes to Dr. Thompson of Animal Dermatology Clinic of Indianapolis, the staff at Circle City Vets, and of course, Purdue University.
I would also like to thank all of you, my fans and the Butler community, for your support, not just during this difficult time, but also over the past nine years. This surely isn’t goodbye just yet. I’ll still be on Twitter/social media, around to give my kid brother, Trip, a hard time, eating all of the ice cream that is allowed, and of course, going for rides in my most prized possession, that Burley Trailers Tail Wagon.
As always and with heart, Go Dawgs!