We wrote the following to provide answers to the many questions we’ve been asked; and also because we feel it’s important for everyone to know these details. Harley was YOUR special little dog, too, after all.
We never compromised when it came to Harley’s health and well-being. All of Harley’s doctors were specialists and he received the absolute best care possible. He had some medical issues which were well under control, thanks to his incredible medical staff; none of his ongoing medical issues played a contributing factor in his death.
In the last 2 weeks of Harley’s life, a neurological problem became apparent. His doctors were in the process of trying to isolate the problem in a non-invasive way. Harley had 3 very short (4-5 seconds) seizures within a matter of a few days. A complete neurological exam, blood work, x-rays and an echo-cardiogram were done. We chose not to take the risk of anesthesia to have an MRI performed, which could have provided a clear answer. Anti-seizure medication seemed to help.
Harley was tail wagging-happy, begging for treats, enjoying belly rubs, giving us kisses, and completely pain-free to the very end. The day of Harley’s death he began having (what appeared to be) fainting spells. He would recover from these quickly and act completely normal. It was odd, so we raced Harley to the veterinary hospital to have his condition assessed. His vital signs were good and his oxygen level was 98%, also very good. Harley appeared very normal, wanting us to hold him, which we did. But then he fainted one last time … and stopped breathing. Dan and I were holding him, he was not euthanized.
He was not in any pain. He left us very peacefully. Though very traumatic for us, it was the best we could ever have hoped for, for him.
The cause of Harley’s death seemed to be related to his neurological condition. His team of specialists were in regular consultation with one another, and the consensus even before his passing was that he likely had a tumor which resulted in his seizures. They agree that it was, in all probability, the tumor which suddenly began affecting the breathing center of his brain. This explained why his vitals and oxygen level were normal.
We know in our hearts that there was nothing more that could have been done for Harley; we would not have risked any kind of surgery. Slowly, we are trying to accept that it was his time, and we are truly grateful that he did not suffer. Harley was happy up to the very end. How we wish he could have been with us longer, but we know what a miracle his life truly was in so many, many ways.
“We miss you, Harley. We can’t begin to tell you how much. Thank you for teaching us, and for the joy and laughter you brought into our lives. We will never, ever be the same.” –Mom and Dad
***This photo is particularly special. It was taken on March 19th, the day before Harley passed. He was napping on my chest. I can still feel him there. –Rudi