Friday, April 16, 2010

Tobey, by Sherri Murray

Tobey was a rescue puppy from F.A.C.E.S. (Friends Assisting Canines with Essential Services) located in West Springfield, MA. FACES had rescued his mom, who was a purebred Dalmatian and she gave birth to a litter of 12 puppies! Tobey appeared to be a Dalmatian/black lab mix. He was all black with a white spotted chest. We adopted him on October 24, 1998.

On Easter of 2008, Tobey had a seizure and we rushed him to Shoreline Emergency Vet Clinic in Shelton, CT – wonderful people over there – and he was diagnosed with heart cancer. He had a large tumor wrapped around his heart. His heart cavity would fill with fluid/blood and keep his heart from being able to beat. They drained the fluid, kept him for a couple of days and explained our options for Tobey. We could let him continue on until the fluid filled up again and they would have to drain the fluid again when he would have another seizure or we could do surgery and have a little hole opened in the pericardial sac, which would allow the fluid to escape on its own. Either way, this was a terminal situation, but the surgery could give Tobey another year, which we felt was a long time for a puppy life.

Unfortunately, right before the surgery, they discovered his cancer was the fast growing kind (heart cancer tumors can either be fast growing or slow growing) and the surgery wouldn't give us as much time as we thought. We did go through with the surgery for Tobey and really wished we hadn't. I slept on a mattress on the floor with him for two weeks and he never really healed.

It was very difficult for him and heart wrenching for us knowing there was nothing else we could do for him. Tobey passed away in the early hours of July 2, 2008 just a month shy of his 10th birthday.

Tobey's time-line was:

* a sign: Tobey's walks were not at the same pace a year prior to his diagnosis. He seemed to have slowed down and we didn't know why. We assumed he was just getting a little older.
* seizure episode on Easter 2008 (end of March)
* diagnosed with heart cancer
* another seizure at the end of April
* surgery was done on April 29, 2008
* month of May was a long struggle with minimal improvement for Tobey
* June 1st he had another major episode and we thought we would have to let him go. We talked with his cardiologist and opted on waiting a little bit and he did rebound some.
* there were other minor episodes that left Tobey basically listless
* July 1, 2008 he had a major seizure and lost all mobility. A few hours later, he again had a seizure and we were just waiting for my husband to get home from out of town so we could all take him to the vet together. During this waiting period, Tobey was comfortable and not in pain or we would have taken him directly to the vet. At 3:30 AM, July 2, 2008, we said our final goodbye to Tobey.

Shoreline Emergency Vet was wonderful. From the moment we walked in the door to every doctor we spoke with – and there were many – everyone was kind, sensitive and very professional. We have no doubt that we got the best care we could have given our situation. This clinic did have an oncologist and cardiologist for animals. A place that you may want to add to your list of contacts:

VCA Shoreline Veterinary Referral & Emergency Center
895 Bridgeport Ave
Shelton, CT 06484
tel: 203-929-8600
fax: 203-944-9754

Well, this is the history of Tobey Murray. I did speak briefly with Luke at the library the day he was in Newtown, CT and he seemed surprised that my dog had died from heart cancer, so this is why I wanted to include Tobey's history to add to your canine cancer stories.

(Pictured is Tobey couch-lounging and sun-bathing, and with his friend Amber.)

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