One day, not too many weeks ago, Lady Isabella and Lord Byron enjoyed a fabulous day at the park. Isabella was in a great mood, bouncing around spreading happiness to all the other humans, like a magical social butterfly. Byron made a new friend and had a lot fun playing fetch with a tennis ball as they charged after the ball together, sometimes Byron got it, sometimes now. It was a wonderful day.

Then, just a few short days later, Byron is bloated and can’t see very well, and Isabella is throwing up and not eating.

So we head to a nearby vet of (what we thought was) solid reputation. Being in the city for just a few months, and not in need of any scheduled visits, we didn’t yet establish a new doctor for Byron and Isabella, but we knew where we would go. They had come recommended by people we met, and by the (few) reviews on Yelp.

After a full physical examination and blood/stool work, the diagnosis for Byron was sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome, something really rare. To be certain, we were referred to a K9 eye specialist. The specialist was more concerned with the sudden bloating and pot-belly appearance, which could be Cushing’s Disease, and life threatening. She said that the swelling of Cushings can put pressure on the optic nerve, so the first course of action was a steroid to address the symptoms of what might be Cushings.

Isabella also received a full physical examination, blood, and stool work up. There was no immediate diagnosis, so we were prescribed anti-nausea pills. She continued to be uninterested in food, and was still vomiting.

We didn’t feel our vet was competent. With Byron’s bloat continuing to get worse, and Isabella showing no improvement — even throwing up the pills — we rushed them to a new doctor for a second opinion. This was the most important thing we could have done.

Our new doctor identified potential issues in Byron’s blood work that was missed by the first vets. She identified markers that indicated liver functions consistent with Cushings disease. And most importantly, she diagnosed a heart murmur! How could this be? Just three days ago his overall health was described as good, except for his eyes. There was also concern that his bloating might be viral in nature, so a mild anti-biotic was prescribed, as well as a schedule to back off on the steroids.

But our biggest shock was with Isabella, blood and ringworms were found in her stool. How could this be? Just three days ago she was cleared of anything serious. And this is where it gets even more infuriating, during the physical exam, our new doctor wanted to take a close look at a few very small lumps… which ended up being mast cell cancer.

Our two intensely-loved little puggies went from happy and apparently healthy, to having two different life-threatening conditions in a matter of days. And if we hadn’t distrusted our first doctor, and moved quickly, it could have been much worse.

To say we were devastated is beyond an understatement. These were half of our pack. We were always very loving of all our dogs, but after the passing of King Argus, an even deeper bond developed between us and these two incredible creatures. The long and difficult process of selling our home, driving across the country, and setting up in a new city ended up being full of beautiful memories because Lord Byron and Lady Isabella were constantly at our sides the whole way. And now, these serious health problems developing in both of them at the same time, was almost too much to handle.

Almost.

Without hesitation, we immediately began the treatments our wonderful new doctor recommended. We’ll detail what’s going on with each Lord Byron and Lady Isabella in separate posts. At first, we weren’t going to “go public” with their health problems, we tend not burden others with our issues, everyone already has enough of their own issues. But we’ve learned a great deal. And in the interest of helping others learn what we’ve learned, Lord Byron and Lady Isabella have encourage us to document their treatments, recovery, and plans for the future.