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The story of “ Kenmilfore red pepper”  D.O.B. 7th. May 2004

In October 2003 my grandson died at 8 months, this left a very large hole in my world. I had been considering getting an Irish setter for some time and in July 2004 I got Abbie to help fill that gap.        

(maybe not the right reason to get a puppy).

I saw a litter advertised in June and arranged to go and see them. I arrived at a lovely country house with a large garden and there were 7 beautiful 5 week old puppies  and mum, some in the garden some in the kitchen one laying across the doorstep ( this was Abbie). I was not hurried and the breeder was so helpful as she knew that I had not had a setter before. I left a deposit and she asked me to visit if I wanted to before I collected her, and if I took an old jumper or towel she would put it with the litter so that I could take the smell of the litter home with Abbie.

Three weeks later I went to collect my darling Abbie, the breeder had all the paperwork in place, gave me a diet sheet, worming history and other information on Irish setters. This is what I would now expect from a good breeder. Over the next 2 ½ years I communicated regularly with the breeder, exchanging pictures, letters, Christmas cards etc. Abbie was a normal naughty puppy .

In August 2006 Abbie had her first fit, I didn’t  know what to do, I rang my vet and she was very helpful explained what it was and said she would come out if I wanted but there was little point as there was nothing she could do at that time, adding that if she had another one then call her straight away and to visit the surgery the next day. When I took her they decided it would be best not to put her on medication straight away as she may only have one fit and also this would help them with the dosage. I phoned the breeder to let her know what had happened as she had kept one of the litter to breed from, I spoke to her daughter as the breeder was not in and asked that the breeder rings me back. I never got a call back and rang her on several occasions but she was never available, and that was the end of my relationship with Abbie`s breeder. 

At this point I would like to describe her fits, as fit vary in intensity:

When Abbie fits she will shake and claw for about 1-2 minutes, emptying her bladder and expressing her anal glans while foaming heavily from her mouth. She then lays motionless for another 3-6 minutes. When she comes round she visits every room in the house then outside and walks around the perimeter of the garden before coming back in to drink about 1 ½ litres of water, after an hours sleep she returns to her normal self. Should her fit last longer than 3 minutes I have to quickly administer diazepam into her back passage to help bring her out of it, and lessen the possibility of brain damage.

Over the next six weeks Abbie had a further 5 fits it was then that the vet put her on epiphen.   

I kept a diary for Abbie for 3 years listing each time she had a fit including; possible link to her seasons/ time of day/ what she ate that day/ where she had exercised/ how long for/ length of fit/ recovery time etc…. hoping to find a common factor with no success.

 In November that year she had a major stroke, could not walk, lost all her memory, didn’t know who she was, what biscuits were or where she lived ( when we got to the vets she thought Abbie was blind because she was so vacant) I really didn`t think we were going to take Abbie home again, but the vet said we must  give her a chance. It took a month for her to get over this, not being able to walk for a week and when she did I took her for very short walks and she was everywhere didn’t know what to do at the road or people who she had known for a long while. In the house she would walk around trying to get out as if she shouldn’t be here (we worked it out later she thought she lived in the car, as this was her first memory after the stroke).

We were lucky in that she had no more fits in this month, but a week after her recovery they started again. The fits came every week or two in clusters of up to 7 in 2 days. The vet altered her medication when she had a longer period between her fits, the medication would drop if only by ½ tablet and the fits would come again.

She has blood tests every 4 months to monitor her liver function and toxin levels. At this time she was put on a low fat / low protein diet and 240mg. Epiphen + 1950mg Potassium bromide per day, as well as the Diazepam when required (she is still on this dose).

This went on until June 2009 when she had a single stem tumour removed from the base of her neck, she built up fluid and had another operation and a drain fitted. September that year Abbie had another stroke, this time it was minor and she recovered from this very quickly, only a week. In November that year at a routine check-up the vet was unhappy with her eyes after examinations he told me she was losing her sight.

August 2010 when I took her for her boosters, and my concerns that her fur was getting very thin the vet said she has probably got cushions decease, he was only 90% sure and would need to run test and scans to confirm this. (I refused these tests as it meant two days of blood tests, sedation, scans, feeding her and more blood tests). He was not going to give her the booster, he said “It is as good as it gets, if you get to Christmas make the most of it,” That day I went home and decided that if she had so little time left that I would let her have what she wanted, I took her off the vets diet and as she loves fish, put her on 80% fish diet. Within two weeks of her new diet she was much better, even wanting to go for short walks which she had not done for so long. Her fits have been few and far between since then. We have ups and downs, sometimes I get concerned for her but most of the time now she greets me when I come home.

Having a dog with epilepsy is not easy, social life is out the window but we still have holidays in English cottages as I can’t leave her in kennels. I would have liked her to have a litter but that really doesn’t matter either, I now have another two Irish setters aged nearly six and nearly seven months. We don’t have expensive carpets or furniture, we have towels around the house so if she has a fit we put one between her rear legs.

                   It is now January 2013 and we still have Abbie, she may be slow but she still has

                                                                          “QUALITY OF LIFE”

                                                                       Thank you for listening.



Views: 572

Comment by Lois McCullough on January 14, 2013 at 11:36am
Hi Angela it is so sad when 1 of our Reds doesn't have the quality of life we hope for but it is even harder for us to watch them as you have over the years. Wishing both of you and your other Reds lots of happiness and joy over the years xx
Comment by Anna Kazimierowicz on January 14, 2013 at 12:12pm

Abbie's and your story is very moving, I wish your girl as good as possible life. All the best for you and your reds:-)

Comment by Phil du Plessis on January 14, 2013 at 12:31pm
I understand what you are going through. Your story gives me hope! Hugs to dear Abbie.
Comment by Eva on January 14, 2013 at 12:31pm
Thank you for sharing and giving a real sense what it means to live with an epileptic dog. I so wish you much much time with your beloved Abbie!
Comment by Astrid Landsaat on January 14, 2013 at 12:32pm

Angela, your blog brings back so many memories to me. Hopefully she will keep a good quality of life for a long time. Giver her a hug from me.

Comment by martina mckeag on January 14, 2013 at 2:10pm

Thank you for sharing this story and I hope Abbie has many years of happiness with you

Comment by Henk ten Klooster on January 14, 2013 at 3:06pm

Honest and open, Angela, wish all were like that!

Comment by Catherine Carter on January 14, 2013 at 4:27pm
Thank you for taking the time and the effort to write Abbie's story. I hope she stays seizure free from now on. I am shocked by the breeder's attitude.
Comment by Ellen Turberfield on January 14, 2013 at 5:21pm

Angela sending hugs to you both, Abbie has quality of life and you to loves her.

Comment by Dianne cook on January 14, 2013 at 8:02pm
Angela, you are Mother Teresa of the animal world. Myself and Irish send you and Abbie all our love x


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