Posts Tagged ‘Benji’

Blogathon 2010 – Seizures in Pets

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Seizures are scary, no matter how many times you have seen them, or if you know your friend is going to be ok, or even if you have the medical knowledge to understand exactly what is going on and that it will end.

When Ernie Dog (Mom and Dad’s tiny Poodle) was one year old, he had a general seizure secondary to carbon monoxide poisoning.  (SO scary – Mom was there too, and they are both fine nine years later!)

All Four Pounds of Ernie Dog!

Some dogs will develop a seizure disorder secondary to liver disease or a brain tumor or something equally ominous.

Usually the pets I have treated for seizures have a disease called Idiopathic Epilepsy.  This is a disease of exclusion – if we can rule out the scary stuff with examination (a general physical exam and a neurological exam, where the veterinarian focuses in on the nervous system) and testing (blood tests, sometimes imaging, even including CAT scans or MRI’s at speciality hospitals), we diagnose Idiopathic Epilepsy.  Remember what idiopathic means?  ha!  No, though it has the same base as idiot!  It means unknown cause!  And once we get to that diagnosis, seizures are much less scary and can be handled with medication, regular check-ups and bloodwork.

Our first dog, Benji, had idiopathic epilepsy.  He was well-managed on oral phenobarbital twice a day.  He had a few “breakthrough” seizures (seizures that occur even when epilepsy is well-controlled).  And like I said, seizures are scary no matter how used to them you are.  I always hated seeing Benji seize, but it did not phase him a bit.  Pets vary quite a bit in their pre-ictal (before the seizure) signs and post-ictal (after the seizure) signs.  Benji’s pre-ictal and post-ictal phases (that I saw) were always pretty subtle.  Some dogs will become agitated before seizures and very sleepy afterwards.

Have you dealt with seizures in your own pets?  Or patients, veterinary types?  Next up…the smallest epileptic patient I have ever had!  WAY smaller than Ernie Dog himself!

Clicking here will bring you to the webpage with information about Bradyn and an opportunity to donate towards the training of his service dog from 4 Paws for Ability. ♥

Blogathon 2010- Two Halves (of a Black Lab) Make a Whole, Right?

Saturday, November 13th, 2010


Russ Finch, my super awesome husband, agreed to write a guest post for Blogathon 2010, and instead of (wisely) waiting till two am when I will be tired and ready for a break, I am putting his post in NOW because I love it (and him…and not only because he always says “yes, I suppose we have room for one more pet!”)

from Russ…


I’m pretty sure I will always have a cat.

I’m pretty sure I will always have a poodle.Benji with baby Amanda


These are two realities that I never envisioned before I became the husband of a veterinarian.

Now, here I am with one cat – Max, currently one poodle – Noodle, a guinea pig – Piggy, a gerbil – Princess, a rat – Wuzzy and two lab mixes – Ebony and Joy.  We have had three other poodles, one other dog, four other rats, an iguana, briefly had a snake, have fostered one dog and many baby kittens, borrowed birds and even a goat.  I do not live on a farm.

When I was a kid, our neighbor had Labrador Retrievers, trained as hunting dogs.  They would have puppies every couple of years and I begged my mom for one each time.  My mom, sensibly, said that we already had two dogs so there was just no way we could have more pets.  So, I decided that when I was a grown-up, I would have a lab.  No other pets necessary.

Our first pet as a family was Max the cat.  Shawn said we should adopt this cat from Iowa State, where he was a blood donor for the vet school hospital.  I said no, I want a lab, not a cat.  See, the cat we had growing up would not predisposition anyone to having a cat.  She was not nice and I have a scar on my upper lip to prove it.  I am allergic to cats. I am a dog person. You can’t play fetch or tug-o-war with cats. They don’t learn tricks.  Dr Finch said please.  Well, Max has been with us ever since.  He is the best cat I have ever known and will always be the pet that I am most attached to.

Next up was a dog.  Now, poodles are about as un-Labrador as dogs get.  Old poodles with no teeth especially.  Dr. Finch, in her first year of practice, met this dog, Benji.  He would come in with his nice little old lady (that’s who owns poodles you know) and jump into the doctor’s arms.  He was a very nice little poodle.  Of course, this nice lady came in with Benji and sadly declared that he would need a new home when she had to move into a nursing home.  I said we could make some fliers.  I said we could ask around.  We knew some little old ladies at church, maybe they could use a poodle.  I said we had to get a house, then we could get a dog (Lab, not Poodle).  Dr. Finch said please.  Benji was part of our family later that week.  He was goofy and loveable, but not too cuddly.  That is until our daughter Amanda was born.  Benji, like in the picture above, wanted to be as close to his baby as possible.  He was this amazing little dog that will forever be in my heart as a part of our family.

These two pets came into our lives as a young married couple and have been such an integral part of our lives.  I cannot picture a world without Max or Benji.  Sometimes I am afraid of the precedent that they set.  Dr. Finch still says please and I still can’t resist.  Sometimes I am more susceptible to pet acquisition than she is.  Luckily, Max will not allow any permanent cat additions and Omaha will not allow more than the three dogs we have, and I have a great prescription allergy  medicine for the cat, rat, dog, piggy, etc. allergies.  We joke about our zoo with each other and with our friends.  It can be kinda fun to see people’s reactions to our list of pets.  All of our pets have been unique and amazing.  Each pet has had tremendous influence on our lives.  Each pet we have lost over the years has been missed, mourned and remembered with love and joy.

Bottom line: I will always have a cat and I will always have a poodle and I will probably always have way too many other pets too.  The bonds that we have share with our animals have greatly enriched our lives.  I am proud to be a part of this blog-athon and proud of the work that my wife, Dr. Finch, is doing.  The cause here is to raise money for Bradyn to acquire an epilepsy service dog.  Service dogs take this bond that we have had with our pets to a whole different level.  It is my hope that he meets his “Max” or “Benji” very soon.


Clicking here will bring you to the webpage with information about Bradyn and an opportunity to donate towards the training of his service dog from 4 Paws for Ability. ♥

Will Benji Be There?

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Here is the second of hopefully many, many newsletters for Riley’s Fan Club.  Dave and I talked about newsletter content, and decided I would cover a different medical topic every other month.  I tried to write the first newsletter on heartworm disease, and it turned out to be on health maintenance (not such a different topic).   I tried again to write a newsletter on heartworm disease, and this one is completely off the wall, but bear with me… I believe it is just as important.

I held onto this newsletter for several weeks until today, when I had to euthanize a precious pet for a grieving owner.  The only way this sad ending to such a horrible disease made any sense was to picture the bunny hopping, once again healthy and young, from her owner’s arms into the arms of God.

You recall from my first newsletter “I love to be boring.” I love helping owners maintain the health of their pets.   Yet, inevitably we end up in the exam room or living room or outdoors, making end of life decisions… hopefully with an old pet, full of years.   However, sometimes it is a pup with a rare disease, a kitten who has had an accident, a pocket pet who is here for only a matter of months…you get the idea.   Most of you have been through the heartbreak.  We live 80 years or so, they live 10 years or so… that’s a lot of sadness for animal lovers like us.

Almost without fail, a question comes up that I am not qualified to answer. I was not taught the answer in veterinary school.  I was not taught the answer in church.   But I need the answer as badly as you do, and I am absolutely sure of my conviction.   So please work through this with me. Do not be offended or afraid to disagree.   I will just walk you through my heart struggles and hope it helps you answer the question for yourself.

Everyone has asked at some point in their life, “Do pets go to heaven?” and I can tell you when a seven year old asks, almost in a panic, before you are about to euthanize his friend, a shoulder shrug will not suffice.  When Russ and I held our first dog Benji, knowing what a rare, horrible, untreatable heart condition he was suddenly dying of, I had to be able to tell Benji that it was ok to let go–not for his own sake, but for mine.

Do pets go to heaven? I can tell you emphatically “YES!” Of course they do.  Do you want to argue the philosophical questions of whether or not they have a soul?  Whether heaven exists?  Whether this is all there is?   I will be happy to, but debate is not my strong trait.   You may have guessed… I lean a tiny bit toward the emotional.

However, I will try to move on to logic.

1) Animals are not separated from God by sin.  There is no such thing as a “bad dog,” or a bad creature of any kind.  Not really.   They do what they instinctively know or have been conditioned to do.   They are not born with a sin nature, as we are.

2) Animals have inherent worth.  Every animal is actively created by God.  If we have to back up to “Does God exist?” or “Is the creation account of Genesis true?” we’d better talk in person!  If we agree on these, and that God is good, I believe we can surmise that God still has his hand in active creation in the world.   Therefore, even if Benji had not been our pet, but a Wild Mountain Poodle, he would still be important to God, and thus worth keeping beyond this world.

3) Heaven is perfect.   Jesus has gone to prepare a place especially for us there.

4) The Bible says that animals are there.

5) Do you think heaven is not big enough??

If, when we get to heaven, we do not see OUR beloved pet, we WILL see our Savior, and be so overwhelmed, everything we wondered about will be outshined, or make perfect sense or both.

I hope with all my heart that this is a happy time for you, that you have your pet in your lap at the computer, or are maybe deciding on a pet to adopt when the time is right.    When you do have to make the difficult decision to end a friend’s suffering, or have to go through the pain of having a pet pass away, I want you to have peace.   Peace that he or she will be with you when you get to heaven.   At least peace that ultimately, everything will be ok.

More often, it is not the seven year old who stops me before euthanasia to ask if their friend will be in heaven.   It is the adult, who asks and then says with his or her eyes, “I don’t care what you believe or whether it’s true.   I need you to say ‘Yes.'”

Now you know… I have not told you “yes” in your saddest time to make the grief process less painful, though I hope it has. I have not told you “yes” because I know you need desperately to hear that everything is going to be ok.   I have told you “Yes, your friend will be there” because I believe with all my heart it is true.   I BELIEVE our pets will be with us in heaven, and I KNOW God is good, and really, if we have that assurance, everything will be ok.

Benji and Baby Amanda, 2/00