Emily Matsushita: September 1999 - December 30, 2010

I had to have Emily euthanized today. Here is a copy of some updates I had sent to a few friends and family, as her illness progressed:

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010:

Emily hadn't been eating for a few days, and she had been pretty much listless and just lying down all day. So, I took her to the vet on Tuesday, where the vet examined her and said her abdomen felt really tense. She then took a couple of x-rays, which seemed to show that her intestines seemed to be kind of pushed outward by some mass in the middle. From the x-ray, she couldn't tell what the mass was --- whether it was the spleen, or something else (like a tumor).

So, the next thing she did was to give Emily barium and take two more x-rays, do an ultrasound, and take blood. She also took a small sample of fluid from where the mass was. They also gave her some IV fluids. I then took Emily home. The results wouldn't come in, she said, until Wednesday or Thursday. Meanwhile, the vet gave me some anti-nausea medicine to give to Emily, and a few cans of some prescription dog food, to try to get Emily to start eating.

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010:

Wednesday was pretty much terrible, as I was anxiously waiting to hear whether or not it might be lymphoma (that's what my previous dog, Abby, had had), or whether it was something else. I didn't hear back from the vet till Thursday around noon. Meanwhile, I had been mixing the canned food, a tiny bit at a time, with a bit of Emily's dry food, several times a day, and did get Emily to eat --- not a whole lot, but probably close to one to two cups per day.

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010:

When the vet did call me on Thursday with the results, nothing was really positive. She said she had had another radiologist look at the x-rays, and he said it looked like it might be the spleen, or "splenetic involvement" (or some phrase like that). The cytology report on the fluid the vet had taken, and the blood tests, seemed to indicate some sort of infection. I then asked the vet what the next steps should be, then. She said that we'll start Emily on a couple of antibiotics --- Metronidazole (Flagyl) and Ciprofloxacin. I looked them up, and they're basically anti-bacterial drugs. Emily will be on them for about two weeks.

Friday, December 24th through Wednesday, December 29th, 2010:

So, I've been giving them to her twice a day, trying to get her to eat several times a day, and just basically watching over her and trying to make her feel comfortable. She basically just lies down and tries to sleep, and looks so sad! She does occasionally wag her tail and shake hands, and even has barked a few times. It is a bit difficult for her, at first, to get up from a lying-down position, partly due to her hip problems, but probably also due now to her uncomfortable abdomen area. BUT, surprisingly, she still, every night, has come, on her own, up the stairs (usually in the middle of the night), to sleep in my bedroom. I have been really surprised at that; I just assumed she wouldn't want to attempt that and would just sleep downstairs. She ascends the stairs quite slowly, but she still does come up. I guess she just feels she has to be with me.

So, this next week will basically be more of the same....just watching and waiting. I really hope it's not lymphoma. Even if it's not, if it's an infection and the spleen, I don't know what the future of that diagnosis will be....

Thursday, December 30th, 2010:

I had to have Emily euthanized today. She had lost even more appetite yesterday and today (Thursday), so I went in this morning to ask the vet what signs I should be seeing if the antibiotics (for her possible spleen infection) were indeed working. There really hadn't been any noticeable change in Emily's condition or energy; every time I felt her stomach area, it was still really tense and firm. The vet who had first seen Emily would not be in till Monday, but the vet tech helped a lot with information she could give me, and told me she'd have the vet call me on Monday.

About 3:30 p.m. today, I heard Emily suddenly collapse against the wall when she was trying to get up. (This was the first time she had totally collapsed in this way; previously, she would just be kind of stiff and sometimes a little wobbly when getting up from a lying-down position.) She had really labored breathing after the collapse. I watched her for about 15-20 minutes; I could tell she wanted to get up, and would try, but she just couldn't support herself on her back legs at all when she tried; she would just plop down again.

So, I called the vet's office to see if I should bring her in; they said yes. (My neighbor kindly carried her into the car; there was no way Emily could walk, and I definitely couldn't carry her 60 pounds myself.) When they examined her, the vet there (not the one who had originally examined her) told me that it looked like her spleen probably had ruptured (something called "hemangioma" or something like that), which she says she sees a lot. That had probably caused the sudden collapse. Emily's gums had no color, which was another sign of blood loss. She said that, even if the spleen were removed, it still probably wouldn't be a good prognosis, at least for Emily's condition and age, and that, if she were to decide, euthanasia would probably be the best decision for Emily. So, at around 4:45, it was done.

I kind of knew this was coming in the near future (I'd been dreading it during this entire two weeks' vacation time), even if her infection had disappeared; Emily was just not enjoying life anymore, so I know it was time. But it's still hard.

Emily was a sweetie, a great pal to Maggie, my cat, and a wonderful friend to me. I will miss her!!!


Emily making a fashion statement.


A couple of summers ago, when I was busy building a guitar in my workroom, Emily decided to come in to visit me, after she'd just taken her daily shower.

(Actually, she did come in to visit me, and had brought me the shower cap as a present. She was weird like that — she would often bring me presents throughout the day — things like a tree branch, a sock from my closet, a rock from the garden, and even a huge clump of dirt....She had such good taste!)





One of my favorite photos of Emily (above)




I just received this — Emily's paw-print — enclosed in a condolence card from my vet's office.

What a kind, kind thing for them to do!!!


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