ROCKY ROAD TO RECOVERY
Meet Rocky, our amazing little guy who was lucky twice.
Rocky came to his forever home in early January, just one month after finishing treatment for heartworm disease, and the start with his new family was “rocky”, to say the least. As a rescue dog, no one was sure how long he had lived with this easily preventable disease or how much this disease would impact his life. However, one that was sure: Rocky had a long road ahead of him, if he ever wanted to be a real dog again.
Within hours of arriving at his new home Rocky’s new family fell in love with him, including his cranky older Chihuahua sister (though at thirteen, she’s a little justified in being crotchety).
However, just three short days later Rocky’s breathing began to change. His concerned family took him to his veterinarian, who after taking a quick look at him, referred him to NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine Emergency Service. It appeared that Rocky had dislodged a large chunk of worms from his heart and they had plugged the vessels that allowed blood to flow from his heart to his lungs, preventing his body from receiving the oxygen is needed to survive. Rocky spent nearly a week in ICU and was completely dependent on oxygen for most of that time. The first couple of days were the worst. He wasn’t even able to be removed from oxygen for a physical exam or to do his business. His new family came to check on his multiple times a day, hoping each time to hear that he was doing better. It was tough knowing that this poor dog had just stumbled into a wonderful opportunity, only to have it jeopardized. It didn’t help that Rocky fell in love with his new family so quickly, that just the sight of them would send his heart racing. Of course this wasn’t good for his recovery, and so his new parents were only allowed to watch him from across the room.
The doctors remained hopeful throughout his treatment, though no one knew for sure if he would overcome this hurdle. Then one day Rocky was able to stand outside of his oxygen cage for a physical exam. The next day he was able to do his business outside – without supplemental oxygen. It was a day to remember. Then, six days after he was admitted, Rocky finally got to come home. This was not without a large bag of medication though. Rocky had seven medications to take when he got home. These included two different antibiotics, blood thinners, sedatives, and a medication to keep the blood pressure down as it flowed from his heart to his lungs. Of course these medications had to be given at all different times throughout the day and night. His parents even set up an air mattress in their living room to be close to his kennel, not only to give him his medications in the middle of the night, but to keep an eye on his breathing.
Slowly Rocky was weaned off his medications one at a time. And it was after taking him off one medication a week after bringing him home that his breathing seemed abnormal. So off he went to the emergency room, and it was determined that this medication would be restarted for another two months. His parents were given strict instructions to keep him quiet for those two months before slowly restarting his exercise over an eight week period. So it was looking like it would be mid-March before Rocky would be off all his medications. He hit that milestone and so far hasn’t looked back. He’s still waiting for mid-April to come, when—fingers crossed—he should be able to fully exercise: going for long walks and maybe even going to a dog park or two.
In the meantime, Rocky continues to show his family a new quirk every day. He has recently earned the nickname “Veggie Monster” for his love of all things vegetables. His favorites seem to be broccoli and cauliflower, but there are plenty more he has yet to try. He also loves wearing bowties that make him look oh-so-handsome, though usually he manages to flip the bow to the top of his neck so he looks like a little girl. His family just laughs and gives him a kiss anyway.
A note from Rocky’s family: We cannot thank BTRNC enough for giving us the opportunity to welcome Rocky into our lives. Even through all his troubles he has made our lives more complete. Thanks for giving all these great little dogs the opportunity to find the forever home they deserve.
And one more: Heart worms can be so easily prevented by a monthly treatment. Now there are even some that can be administered every 3 or 6 months. Please, if you have a dog, don't play the odds on this disease, keep their treatment current. Even if the treatment goes better than it did for Rocky, it is costly and very hard on the dog as they must be kept still during the kill process. The coughing that they do while the heart worms are dying is something you don't want to hear. We thank you!