Sunday, November 15, 2015

An Update On Emma

I’ve been putting off this post because it’s one I really, really didn’t want to write. As I mentioned earlier this year, Emma was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. We’ve been treating it with medication, and things were going well, but she has the pituitary dependent kind, and now the tumor has started to grow. Things aren’t going as well now.

As the tumor grows it presses on the appetite center of her brain, which basically causes her not to register hunger. Emma has never been a particularly big eater, but now she has very little interest in food. She lost a lot of weight really fast.

Numerous vet visits and consultations with a veterinary nutritionist later, Emma is on an appetite stimulant that is helping some. The only real treatment for the tumor is radiation. We’re choosing, for various reasons, not to pursue that. It’s a decision I struggle with sometimes, but ultimately I just don’t think putting a 12 year old dog through 5 weeks of radiation is the right thing to do.

At the beach last month.
We’re told that at some point even the appetite stimulant won’t help. No one seems very sure how long it will continue to make any difference. Even on the appetite stimulant, Emma’s appetite isn’t what it should be. We’ve found that feeding her a wide variety of foods seems to help. She seems to be more interested in different flavors, textures, and scents. She also seems to like to be spoon fed sometimes. Novelty is our greatest ally right now.

Our phones are full of pictures of cans of food that Emma seems to like a little better than other things we’ve offered her. We’re cooking for Emma; chicken, turkey, various kinds of rice, and are trying to track down venison to try for her. We’ve even braved the baby section to buy her baby food.

Some days are much better than others, and we’re trying to feed her as much as possible on the better days. We know that end of life decisions are coming, we just don’t know when. We’ve talked a lot of things through with our vets and with each other. The good thing is that Nick and I are in agreement about things, and that we have a truly awesome vet. I hate what’s coming, but I’m so glad we have such a good vet who really cares about Emma. He called after he got the report from the specialist, and I felt a lot better after talking to him about our options.

Napping with Tara.
 For the moment, we seem to be having more good days than bad, and the bad days aren’t horrible. I’m taking both of those things as good signs. We’re trying to act normal around Emma, but we’re also trying to make sure the good days are really, really good days. She’s getting extra cuddle time, whatever she wants to eat, and every day we tell her what a good dog she is, and how much we love her. 

As I said at the beginning, I put off writing this post for a while; in part because I can’t talk (or write) about it without crying, and in part because I usually prefer to write about happier things. I finally decided to go ahead and write it because I’ve written a lot about, and shared a lot of pictures of Emma over the three years I’ve been writing this blog. As much as I hate it, this is part of her story. I also know that many of you who regularly comment are fellow pet people, and this is just the kind of thing that pet people share with each other, and sometimes some good advice, or at least the knowledge that you’re not alone comes from that sharing. And I promise my next post will be a happier one.


  1. It is very difficult watching our pets grow old, you are doing the right thing, just making her life as nice as possible.

  2. Oh Danielle, I'm so sorry. (I still tear up about Koda and its almost been a year).

    You are wise not to pursue radiation for a dog her age. We wouldn't have put Koda through chemo at 9 or 10 years old, but felt at 6 years old he still had a few years left (thankfully 4 years).

    Someone told me that Koda would let us know when it was time. I didn't really believe them, but he did let us know when it was time.

    Just do what you are doing with her, loving on her and having her eat what she wants when she wants to.

    Sending you a hug......


  3. I'm so sorry. Don't think about this as being a "downer". Rather, you'll get the outpouring of support you need during this difficult time. I hope things go more smoothly for Emma.

  4. I'm so sorry. It's so hard when you get to this stage. For me, at least, the hardest part is the weight of the responsibility. You want to do the best for them, but when you get to a certain point you're just forced to choose between a lot of bad options.

    Just know this. Emma is deeply loved and she knows it. And ultimately filling them up with love is the only thing we can really do. And as long as your decisions are guided by love, they will be the right ones.

    That being said... my new family of ferals are thoroughly enjoying working their way through the cabinet full of cat food that I bought over the past few years trying to get first Sputnik, and then Princess to eat. It still makes me cry every time I pull out a can of something that used to be somebody's favorite though.

    Big Hugs...

  5. Poor little Emma. My heart goes out to all of you. She's a lucky dog to have you as an owner Danielle. x

  6. Dear Danielle,

    I very much sense your despair about your beloved Emma. I so understand how difficult a time this can be. Yet, with your love for her, you are making her life as comfortable as possible.

    Dogs are such loving examples that humanity can learn from. Bless you and bless poor Emma.

    In kindness,


  7. We're so sorry, Danielle and Nick. Thank you for loving Emma so much, and for your amazing care for her. Sending hugs, purrs and prayers to you all.


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