Big Tex was rescued from a local kill shelter in the Fall of 2005. C.L.A.W. (The Citizen's League for Animal Welfare) is a rescue group who pulls animals from three different kill shelters in our county.
Tex was an 8 month old Labra-Dane who had been owner surrendered. He was in bad shape and needed immediate help. My husband and I volunteer for this group and we became his new foster parents.
When Tex came into the foster program, we knew it might be a long shot for him to find a forever home. He had been hit by a car, with injuries left untreated. He was also badly underweight and had visible hip damage.
The gash along his back, between the shoulder blades had healed, but not without leaving a scar. Both hips had external scars along with internal bone damage. The bones had been allowed to heal incorrectly.
So we went into "protective parent" mode... and adopted Tex within days of him coming to our foster home.
While his hips "looked" strange, especially when looking down at him from above, they didn't seem to cause pain. We were advised against painful surgery, since it wasn't disabling or painful for him. He ran, played, rolled and wrestled, living life to the fullest. A happy life with his own canine sisters and constant flow of playful foster siblings.
The next 2-1/2 years were blissful with Tex. He was the perfect dog. No issues whatsoever. We firmly believe because he was once a foster kid himself, he took extra care in welcoming other fosters into our home. It was like he was trained to do so.
Tex could always be counted on to welcome (with open paws) any foster dog in need. He knew the drill, the fear of a new place, the uncertainty of new dogs, it is scary for those coming in. Never once was there a grumble from him toward a new foster. It didn't matter to him... male, female, big, little. He would just give then a big sloppy grin & sniff, then trot off with them for a tour of the place.
We noticed periodically, what we thought were dreams when Tex was sleeping. Once in early Spring '08, he had what we then called a "nightmare." Thrashing and whining in his sleep, until we went to him and brought him around. Not until May '08 did we realize we had a problem.
Two bad seizures in one night. With me on the phone to the vet getting advise. The next morning we went to the clinic where he was prescribed Phenobarbital. We spent a couple of weeks getting the dose right to control the seizures. Then the next couple of weeks were good. But with NO warning, he had severe allergic reactions to the med. He broke out in huge whelps all over, ears, around his eyes, lips, even between his toes. Then on to the steroids. More and more of different meds.
He had also developed the habit early on in '08, of rubbing his head with his big paws. Prior to the seizures, we once thought this was just a cute thing he did. Once the other symptoms began, we began to realize this wasn't just a habit.
His head rubbing was obviously indicating pain which was gaining momentum. We tried numerous pain medications to help him find the relief he was so desperately seeking, but nothing worked.
Through two months, many vet visits, prescriptions, tests, x-rays... and watching our boy steadily decline, we were ultimately told he had a brain tumor. Knowing already we couldn't begin to afford a costly surgery or expensive medications, we knew we had to face the heartache of letting him go. Thus relieving his pain.
By mid July my husband held our gentle giant as he departed this world. Leaving a huge empty space in our home and hearts.
This was without a doubt, the hardest decision we've ever made. We had lost much loved dogs to old age before and that's hard enough. But never one so young and so deserving of a good LONG life. One who had experience such a rough beginning in his first year.
My husband and I have a life which combines two very different worlds. Our paying job is a ladies retreat center, our volunteer job is dog rescue. The retreat guests come here knowing we also do animal rescue. Our ladies love to interact with both the personal and foster dogs. This always opens up the floor for many animal discussions.
It's truly hard to grasp the number of people with experiences involving canine cancer. We hear of it each and every weekend. It seems with each passing year, there are more types being mentioned. More and More people losing pets to this disease.
I very much appreciate the Big Dog and his search for an answer. Some way to stop this terrible disease from taking our beloved dogs. My prayer is the cure is found and kids like Tex can live out their years happy and pain free.