Sometimes we all need to have a little faith in each other, this is a lesson I learned recently from of all places…a Basset Hound. When a malnourished Basset Hound was brought to the Prairie’s Edge Humane Society shelter after she wandered into someone’s yard in the countryside the original diagnosis was not very positive for her. This dog had some serious infections as well as numerous other medical concerns. Faith not only seemed to have a long list of possible health issues but she was also harboring some emotional ones as well. She would cower and shake when being reached out to as if she were preparing herself for a beating. She would bow her head with scared eyes when being approached with any object in your hand. We can only guess the reason for this was probably the result of a beating in her past. But when I looked into this dog’s eyes I just could not give up on her. She looked back at me with eyes full of love to give and an unspoken plea for help. I was not ready to accept the diagnosis and asked to take little Faith for a second opinion. Among her numerous health concerns, was a serious ear infection, so bad that the slightest touch to her ears would cause her to scream in pain. Faith seemed to trust me and would wiggle like only a Basset Hound can and seemed happy and excited when I would approach her. Perhaps she sensed that I was a Basset Hound “person”. I live with two Basset Hounds of my own. Faith is very similar in looks to one of my Basset Hounds, who has a rare health condition and when I looked at Faith, I saw traits of my beloved dog who I never gave up on.
My Basset Hound was diagnosed with Addison’s disease when she was just one year old. She almost died prior to the diagnosis, which unfortunately is a common outcome for most dogs with Addison’s disease as it is often not diagnosed until the dog is so sick that it dies. Addison’s disease is nicknamed “the great pretender” because it mimics many other health issues in dogs, most of which are not serious health issues on their own and therefore most dogs with Addison’s disease are never diagnosed until it is too late. Diagnosing this disease requires a special blood test which is also very expensive. My dog was sick with vomiting and diarrhea on and off for the first year of her life. We continually treated her stomach and gastrointestinal issues, not knowing she actually had a very serious rare disease. An untreated Addison’s dog cannot handle anesthesia and this is how my dog was eventually diagnosed. After not waking up after a surgery, she spent five days in intensive care at a veterinary hospital trauma center. She almost died the first day, was expected to die the second day and the third day she was finally diagnosed with Addison’s, given the medication to treat it and walked out of the hospital under her own power on the fifth day. On the second day of my dog being in a state similar to a human in a coma, her vital signs were not good, various organs were beginning the process of shutting down and the veterinarians were concerned that she may go in to cardiac arrest. They had studied her past medical records and determined it was possibly Addison’s disease. My dog was unconscious, hooked up to numerous monitors and deteriorating in front of my eyes. I laid on the floor next to her, petting her and talking to her in intensive care. I was told that when I would leave her side, they would hear her whine, even though she was in this coma like state. When I was there she would not make a sound and her vital signs would actually get better. They knew she could sense that it was me which told them even though she was very sick, she was still inside that sick body fighting to survive and capable of recognizing my presence even though her eyes were closed. They had run the blood test to determine if it was indeed Addison's Disease however it would take until the next day to get the results back. They asked me to make a decision on what they should do if in the meantime she went into cardiac arrest. Even once diagnosed and treatment begun she could still go into cardiac arrest because she was so sick at the time. They informed me that they could very likely resuscitate her but she could end up with brain damage and damage to other organs that would just cause her more suffering. I was asked to make a decision if I wanted them to do whatever possible to keep her alive or to leave it in God’s hands at that point and let her go should her heart give out. I made the heartbreaking decision to let her go if she went into cardiac arrest. I had not lost faith in her, I simply did not want her to suffer or be put through more pain. Thankfully that never happened and I have a bundle of Basset Hound love still living with me 5 years later. She lives a “normal” happy dog’s life, with her Addison’s disease being managed with medication. Addison’s disease is rare, ugly and a death sentence if left untreated. It was a very expensive diagnosis and it is a very expensive disease to manage. It is a major commitment when you receive this diagnosis. My dog requires medication in a pill form each day and an injection at the veterinary clinic every 21 days. She is a champ at taking her medication and is an active happy dog. You would not know there is anything medically wrong with her when you see her unless I tell you. Her disease is just a part of our life at this point. It requires special planning at times and schedules to be worked around in order to have her in my life, which I cannot imagine life without her. Addison’s dogs have difficulty handling stress and I have learned what things trigger anxiety for my dog. I know when to increase her medication so that she can handle various situations. With continued management of her disease she will live a normal life span and she is able to do anything any other dog can do. My dog has accompanied me on vacations and long trips in the car; she has gone camping numerous times with me, goes to the dog park, plays with other dogs, has been in parades, loves the annual dog swim at the public pool each year, and attends many of the events sponsored by the Prairie’s Edge shelter. She can do these things because I have learned to manage her symptoms with her medication. She has faith in me to take care of her and I have faith in her to trust me to do so.
The veterinarian who diagnosed my dog with Addison’s told me she was impressed that I had never given up the fight to find out what was wrong with my dog. She told me that a dog who throws up and has diarrhea on a regular basis is not normal and many times we are just told that this is nothing to worry about as animals will vomit on occasion, but if this were happening in a human we would not say “oh that can happen and it’s normal”, so why do we say this with animals? It is not normal and they cannot tell us what is wrong so we need to be their voice. We need to fight for them. This is true not only with their health but in all aspects of their lives. We need to have a “little faith” in them and protect and care for them.
So Faith the Basset Hound was taken for another opinion. While in the car traveling with me to the veterinary clinic I looked at her and as she gazed back at me with her droopy Basset Hound sad eyes, helpless, scared and sick, I promised her that I would help her however I could. Knowing that helping her also meant if she were too sick she may have to be euthanized. Sometimes the treatment of the health issues can cause more pain or the quality of life is questionable and these difficult decisions have to be made. My brain understood that, but my heart was praying that would not be the case. Faith was given another exam and treatments for her health issues were discussed with the veterinarians. Faith had infections in various parts of her body however it was felt they could be treated. She also has some lumps that were looked at and it was determined they were just benign cysts. Faith was put on a heavy dose of antibiotics to treat all of the various infections going on in her little body. She was given a treatment for her ears which would last 14 days so that her sensitive ears would not need to be touched by our shelter staff for daily cleanings and to apply the medicine thus relieving her of that pain. Faith was malnourished and probably had worms as well, which was also treated. After only a few days on the antibiotics Faith was already feeling better and even playful. When she would be let out of her kennel at the shelter in the morning she would bounce around like Tiger from Winnie the Pooh and run to the office where she would hang out during the day greeting anyone who came by with her own special Basset Hound wiggle. She was happy. Her eyes were no longer red; she was perky and friendly and even allowed us to pet her ears. Whether the pain was less or that she had gained more trust of us we are not sure, probably a combination of the two.
Only a week after beginning her antibiotics and other treatments Faith was healthy enough for her spay surgery. When Faith had her exam the veterinarian believed she may have some mammary tumors. After Faith’s spay surgery the veterinarian told us that Faith’s uterus had been “used many times” indicating that she had birthed several litters of puppies in her past and she did indeed have mammary tumors. There is however a high percentage that they are benign and a possibility that after her spay surgery they may even decrease in size once the hormones were out of her body. Faith returned for a checkup after only two weeks, and the tumors had already appeared to decrease in size. Many dogs live a normal life span with these types of tumors.
Faith loves to be with people, loves to go for walks, play outside and loves to ride in the car. She loves a belly rub and will bug you to continue if you stop. Her personality is coming out more and more each day and just like most Basset Hounds, she is a bit of a character. She is a completely different dog then what originally came through our shelter door. She will still occasionally cower when you reach your hand out towards her but it is becoming less often and she is becoming more confident and trusting every day. Faith is estimated to be about 7-8 years old and we are happy to report that she has now been adopted into her forever home. No, not by me, as much as I would have loved to adopt Faith, I know my limits and financially two dogs is all I can handle especially with one of my dogs having special needs. So I said my goodbye to little Faith and shed a few tears as I did so. They were good tears however because I know that she is safe, loved and getting healthier every day. She will be a great addition to her new family simply because we “had a little faith” in her.
There is a wonderful song called “Have a Little Faith in Me” from one of my favorite movies, “Benny and Joon” (starring Johnny Depp). I listened to this song on the day I took Faith for her exam. It brought tears to my eyes as I listened to the lyrics and thought about this little Basset Hound named Faith and how appropriate the lyrics to this song were at that moment. I have to admit that I was not crazy about us giving her the name Faith when she first came to the shelter. I did not think it was a good “Basset Hound” name. But I have come to realize that this was the perfect name for this dog. Her name has been changed since being adopted but while she was with us “faith” was what we all needed and Faith served us well. Faith does deserve a new name to go with her new life. She is leaving behind the hardships, pain and abuse and starting a new life where she will be loved and cared for as she deserves. I may have originally been drawn closer to this dog simply because she is a Basset Hound and they hold a special place in my heart, but I very quickly discovered that Faith’s story was becoming a lesson for all of us on having faith when circumstances are difficult. I believe that things happen for a reason and sometimes there are signs sent to us and if we simply look closer at them we may see a reason to have a “little Faith” in each other. I wanted Faith to have a little faith in me and to gain her trust, but in the end it was Faith who taught us a lesson in her own way and seemed to say to everyone “Have a Little Faith in Me”.
When the road gets dark
And you can no longer see
Just let my love throw a spark
And have a little faith in me
And when the tears you cry
Are all you can believe
Just give these loving arms a try, baby
And have a little faith in me
And when your secret heart
Cannot speak so easily
Come here darling, from a whisper start
To have a little faith in me
And when your backs against the wall
Just turn around and you, and you, you will see
I will catch you, I will catch your fall, baby
Just have a little faith in me
And have a little faith in me
Well, I’ve been loving you for such a long time, girl
Expecting nothing in return
Just for you to have a little faith in me
You see time, time is our friend
Cause for us, there is no end
And all you gotta do, is have a little faith in me
I said, I will hold you up, I will hold you up
And your love gives me strength enough, so
Have a little faith in me
I said hey, all you gotta do for me, girl
Is have a little bit of faith in me