Friday, May 20, 2011

Coming Out Of The Closet

For people that know me well, when my dogs have health issues, I prefer to be alone and I not to talk about it. I am most comfortable just being with my dogs and my family while I work through "things". That's just the way I cope with it all.

Because people cared so much and were asking, I was able to pull myself out of my comfort zone and post a note on Facebook to describe what happened on May 2nd after returning home from a herding trial in the Milwaukee area. Reason had 4 grand mal seizures (midnight, 2pm, 8pm, and 10pm). The 10pm seizure was the very last one he had and has not had one since then. Except for a few people, I never spoke about what was diagnosed from the MRI that was done on May 4th.

This blog entry is to explain what happened and to thank all the wonderful friends I have here in Minnesota and all around the country for caring so much about me and about Reason. I got so many messages of support and positive energy from people, I couldn't possibly respond to everyone. The dog community can overwhelm me with emotion as to how much they really care about other people and dogs - it's like a strong family that supports and respects each other and I am so proud to be a part of it all.

During the MRI, the neurologists at the University of Minnesota found a small mass in the left frontal lobe, which was now causing him to have problems with his right side and lots of ataxia. There was a small amount of edema surrounding the mass. Options were given to me - do nothing and he would have 1-2 months. Surgery and he would have 1 - 1 1/2 years. Side affects from surgery might involve a slight head tilt to the left and inflammation to the left eye. With a radiation treatment, he would have 1 - 1 1/2 years, with the exception that there are only 2/3 of masses that respond to radiation. 1/3 of them will not respond. Also, radiation would involve 3 or 4 weeks of treatments (radiation apparently has very little affects on dog being treated for a tumor in the head). The neurologist felt that the mass was meningioma, which is a benign/slow growing tumor.

I was fortunate enough to have some time in order to make a decision. Reason was stable and functional - just having difficulties with balance and ataxia, but was happy and vibrant. Dogs are amazing in how they adapt to what is presented to them physically - they never complain, they just move on. I constantly assessed his attitude and his will to continue and by the end of two weeks, there was no doubt in my mind that Reason wanted to continue to share this life with me in the physical world. Dr. Audrey DeClue, who has been responsible for keeping Reason and my other dogs physically able to continue to run in agility was an amazing support resource and friend as I talked to her almost daily on the phone over these last weeks (and this with her busy equine schedule travelling around the country).  She also saw him the weekend after the MRI to evaluate him. She did some research for me and helped me make my decision. I was also able to discuss this with one of my obedience students, who is a retired neurologist and he also helped me understand the process and verified my decision to do the surgery. In people, this is totally curable.

So, on Tuesday, May 17th, I dropped Reason off for the surgery, which was completed around 12:30. The surgeon was very happy with how it went and was able to get it all - along with some normal tissue as part of the mass went a bit deep. The mass was not part of the brain. Now it was just waiting to see how he would respond neurologically coming out of surgery. Reason always has issues coming out of anesthesia in that he comes out fast, but he remains anxious, whiny, impatient, and does not like to be confined so he vocalizes. He won't rest and won't lay down until his body just makes him collapse from being overtired. This usually goes on until 2 days after anesthesia. The neurologist was impressed and amazed at how quickly he recovered from  the surgery. He was responsive, alert, and everything was working from a neurological standpoint, except some normal weakness from the surgery.

I went to visit him on Wednesday evening and I wasn't prepared to see so much of his face having been shaved. But I was thinking the incision would look much worse than it did - it looked wonderful and it was already healing. I was able to see the MRI (really cool techy stuff) and it made me so grateful to have such an amazing resource that we have here in Minnesota with the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical School.

On Thursday, after talking to the neurologist in the morning, I was told that Reason could come home that afternoon. When I went to pick him up, he looked SO GOOD and really wanted to go home. There was no head tilt, no inflammation to the left eye, and the ataxia appears to be gone and his right side is working better. Now we start the healing process that is the most difficult one for all people with high drive dogs - keeping him quiet so that the incision and the surgery site can heal properly. Score and Schema have been so good about leaving him alone and still treating him with respect. Reason remains his bright and happy self as he adapts to the after effects of the surgery.

When I came home, I was so touched by my good friend and Reason's breeder, Janice DeMello as she made this video tribute to Reason. She used the song that I posted in yesterday's blog and put together some great memories of us from over the years. While the video made me cry (again), it also made me smile as I can see how blessed I am to have been able to share my life with this amazing little being that has touched my soul forever.

Jan describes this video, "This video is in honor of Nancy Little's brave boy Hob Nob Meant To Be aka Reason after he underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor on May 17, 2011." If the video doesn't work below, here is a direct link: Click here to go directly to video on YouTube.

And because the video shows some photos of his incision just after surgery, I wanted to show Jan how well he was doing after he came home, so I include that video here for you to see as well. This is classic Reason, except with a facial hair cut. This is about 54 hours after his surgery.

So, while I went into a lot of detail through this experience of mine with Reason, I know you will understand that I will now want to move on from what is now "ancient history" to me. I am no longer focusing on what happened, I have now moved into looking at all the good times we are going to have ahead of us. Reason is my inspiration as he is strong, vibrant, full of life, and always having a good time. We should all live life like that.

Love you ALWAYS Reas!!


  1. We just never know what lessons our dogs have come to teach us. They are such wise and wonderful beings, happy healing dear Reason.

  2. Yay, Reason!!! And Nancy, too!
    Celeste and Riff

  3. Thanks for letting us know what happened, I know it was hard for you. But it's all downhill now, Reason will be around for a good long time! Wonderful stuff! Hugs from his Terv "sis" Brooks!

  4. Glad it went well and the journey for you and Reason will continue like it was always planned :)

  5. Thanks for sharing this. I know it wasn't easy for you, but we really do care. You and Reason are blessed.

  6. Thanks for sharing, Nancy. As I read the options you had, it is clear to me surgery was the best option and the one I would have chosen too.
    And Reason clearly agrees! Yea team.

  7. Thank you for sharing this Nancy. You know your boy so well. I think the picture of him doing a front and looking into your eyes (my favorite one) says it all. BTW, my father had a meningioma the size of a small grapefruit! He had surgery and lived another 20 years with no ill effects.


  8. Kyle, I love hearing that story about your father. Thanks.

  9. Thanks for sharing this very moving time in your life. You and Reason are a very special team.

  10. Here's to the future! I'm so glad to hear this good news.

  11. Thanks so much for sharing your story! You and Reason are inspirational!

  12. AWESOME Nancy, What an amazing strong boy!!!! So glad for you and Reason. Wonderful video showing a clearly wonderful relationship!