Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I don't want to write this, because if I do, it will make it seem all the more real.

Joe left this morning with Blitz to return him the the breeder, Al.

To say that we are sad would be a monumental understatement.  Since last Thursday, things have really sucked around here.  Let me explain... Last Monday Blitz was at my folks house for the day while Joe was sleeping and I was at work.  I got a phone call from my mom as I was walking out of work asking me to come straightaway to her house, something was wrong with Blitz's right leg.  When I got there, he had a swollen spot on his foreleg that looked like somebody had shoved an egg under his skin it was that puffy and a significant limp.  My mom had no idea what happened because she was with him the whole time - no falls, yelps of pain, she didn't see any bees outside next to him, nothing.  She had put him in his crate for an hour while she went to a Dr. appt and when he went in he was peachy, when he came out he had a bump and a limp.  I wasn't really that worried, because he let us touch it and didn't seem in pain or agitated. So I took him home, iced it, and got an appt for him the next morning with the vet.

Joe took him to the appt, (another 500 bones spent) they did Xrays which confirmed that there was no break or fracture, so they thought it was most likely a spider bite that got infected and sent him home with some antibiotics.  The lump went down, he perked right along, and we thought all was well.  Until Thursday afternoon when the vet called with devastating news.  He had had a radiologist look at the xrays, and right off he noticed that something was wrong;  Blitz's joint was malformed, which had cause his bone to slip out of place, and caused all the swelling.  He explained that if you cup your left hand and place it over your right hand that you've got clenched in a fist, that is how the joint SHOULD be formed to rotate and bear pressure properly.  Now, make both hands into fists and place them knuckle to knuckle, and you have how Blitz's is formed.  They said that the more he grew and heavier he got, the more pain he would be in, and more unstable the joint would be.  There were three ways to fix it:

1.  Surgery on the joint that would cost upward of $5,000.  We would have to severely limit his exercise an activity so as not to re injure the     joint, then when he would be a year old and done growing they would preform the surgery, and then he would have to be casted/splinted for 8-12 weeks while it healed.

2.  Amputate the entire leg including the shoulder blade.  Since he is so young he would recover very quickly and should adapt with no problems.  But what the hell kind of quality of life would that be for him?  

3 Euthanasia (ick, ick, ick!!)

Option #1 was out because even if we could afford that kind of treatment for him, with our schedules how could we care for him with limited movement/exercise???  German Shepherds NEED an outlet for their energy, and even if the surgery was done, there's no guarantee that it would be successful or require something more, and where is the $$$ line that you draw?  That really left it between #s 2 & 3.  I just didn't feel good about #3 AT ALL.  He is so full of life and has so much to offer - how do you just snuff that out?  I am all for ending it when pets are in pain or beyond any other help.  But for the love of Pete, this is a puppy - who happily chews his ice cubes and digs in the backyard and fetches his ball and sleeps on your feet while you stand at the sink and do dishes.  So option #2 was looking more like a possibility, but I knew deep in my heart that it would probably dampen the quality of his life just to keep him in ours.  I cried a lot.  Heck, who am I kidding?  I still am.

Friday I got a flu bug and we had one of the hottest days of the year.  Oh yeah,and my period too.  Poor Joe.  I was a nauseated, cramping, crying mess who felt that I was about to spontaneously burst into flames.  So he took me and Blitz to my folks to the sanctuary of their AC and we stayed there over night since he had to go to work and he smartly realized that I was in no condition to be left alone.    

So we waited, and waited, and I cried and cried.  It seemed like no matter what we chose it was a crap decision, and one that didn't have a great outcome.  

Yesterday, Joe took Blitz to the breeder's house so he could see him with his own eyeballs.  Al and his wife Sylvia are such loving people.  My goodness, what they offered to us and to Blitz was more than generous and really shows their character.  They felt very strongly that they needed to "make it right", and wanted us to entrust Blitz to their keeping, for them to raise.  Even though his condition is not hereditary, simply a birth defect, they felt the need to step in and basically give Blitz the best care and life possible.  They will not put him down and they will not amputate.  While they have never had this occur in a litter they have bred, they have owned other shepherds who have had joint issues so they know all the intricacies of how to care for him with the types and amounts of exercise, joint supplements, etc.  When he is a year old, they will have the joint surgery done on him in Mexico where it will be much cheaper and they have family, and he will live out his life as a family pet to them.   There's a part of me that screams "just tell me what to do and I'll do it!!  anything!!"... but I just don't have the set-up that they do, or the expertise to deal with something like this.  They are also going to give us a another puppy  from a littler they hope to have born sometime in the late fall.  I have mixed emotions about that...  yes, I want a dog very badly, but dang it, I want the one I had.

So last night as Joe and I were discussing all this I was still feverish hoping against hope for a miraculous healing, it was becoming very clear that we had to accept Al's offer.  It was truly the best thing for Blitz.  Honestly, the best possible scenario - his body stays intact, he stays alive  and there's no one else who could care for him as well.  And what is truly amazing, it that for Al and Sylvia to take him, it is a sacrifice for them to do so as well.  The zoning laws where they live says that they can only have 3 dogs at a time, and they already do.  They will send one to his friend Luis is LA so that Blitz can stay with them.  Talk about above and beyond.

I sure cried a lot this morning as I gathered some things that needed to go with him to his new home.  Part of me feels silly, because it is not like I lost a person in my life, and in the scope of things, this is a relatively small loss compared to what other people in the world are dealing with.  But... he was my buddy.  Always close by me, following me around making his funny little noises.  It is sad to think that for awhile it will be just me here at night.

That is a very lonely thought.


Lankford said...

Brutal... So sorry about Blitz... The little fella seemed to be just right, but God has other plans for him and for you...

Hope to see you all in a couple of months in Castro Valley... I am itching to come up, so I think we will make it happen in August.

Blessings and prayers...

Randi said...

I am so sorry to hear about Blitz.

I'm sure it was a hard decision for you all, but probably the right one. I hope you soon have peace and healing about it. Even though he was a pet he was still a family member.

Hugs to you!

Candace said...

Kate, that sucks so much. I'm so sorry to hear about Blitz. Sounds like he's going to be taken care of and that's wonderful. Hopefully you'll be in a good place to accept their offer of another puppy in the fall, but if not that's okay, too. Hope you are feeling better.

Lizzy Deaton said...


I was so bummed to hear about Blitz. I'm so sorry :( It does seem that this would be the best for him, though, how hard it was.

I'm praying for you!

Holli said...

Oh, no!! Not cute little Blitz! That is the saddest puppy story I've ever heard. What a hard decision for you guys. I have heard that Shepherds can get joint problems, but I thought it wasn't until much later in life. I'm really sorry things have turned out this way for you guys and your sweetie pie. At least the breeders are taking him back and will give him the treatment and long term care he needs. I know what you mean about staying alone at night. We've thought about getting a bigger dog than Oscar because it just seems more comforting at night. Maybe someone perfect will be born for you guys in the fall.

Colleen Sherman said...

Hi Kate. Thanks for commenting on my blog. You're in my Google Reader now.

I just read this post and it was so heartbreaking. Not certain if you read about our situation with Cosmo last month... and while it was under different circumstances, we had to return him to his foster mom after about a week. It was so tough. And even though you've had Blitz for a bit longer than we had Cosmo, I know the pain you must be feeling. One thing that was helpful for me to get through it was to remember what we were doing was best for Cosmo. And what you are doing is best for Blitz too. The right dog will come along when the timing is right. And you'll love him just as much! :-)