They forgot Rascale!
My sisters dog Rascale was the essence of the Aries dog. A pocket rocket, that took life head on. She had business to take care and a take no prisoners’ attitude. She took in life as black and white with no silly gray areas. Rascale was feisty, robust, tenacious and bold with lots of spunk. She was also very protective of her pack. True to her nature and her breed she would always be thinking one step ahead of any dogs that might have any ‘smart ideas’, this little pocket rocket would announce sternly that she was boss with a short sharp bark.
As a result, Rascale was quite often miss-understood by some people who did not understand the temperament of this breed. Mini Fox Terriers have an almost dual personality, loving and affectionate but at the first sign of suspicion, danger or alarm these demure lap-dogs turn instantly into a fearless watchdog, tenacious and an intrepid hunter.
Rascale was a happy, friendly, sweet natured girl that was very strong willed. I also remember many stories that my sister would tell me of Rascale’s fearlessness, two that come to mind are her wanting to chase kangaroos (size didn’t matter) and coming up against a snake in the backyard which she promptly dealt with. It was this tenacity and fearlessness that would prove to be an important trait she would rely on later in her life!
To really understand Rascale I have to go way back to the beginning. With the help of my sister Debbie here is Rascale’s memoir from a life.
Rascale came into the world and our lives in 1997. A sweet little round bellied puppy. She literally bounced into our arms and from that moment we knew she had chosen us as her forever parents. She was a happy, bouncy and loving girl, always full of energy, playfulness and eager to please.
We enjoyed many walks, lots of playtime and experienced many fun times even including many memorable holidays together. She was a wonderful bundle of joy and happiness. Life proved to be wonderful with Rascale. Our little fur-babies bring an immense joy to our lives. Rascale certainly did for us. It is always so painful to see them ill, you will move heaven and earth to make them better.
When Rascale was quite young she started to develop terrible bowel upsets that would end up with her at the vet on an IV drip. She was finally diagnosed with ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome’ (IBS). From that day on we found ourselves visiting the vet on occasion when the condition would flared up. Antibiotics were the course of treatment and a change in diet was planned. A local vet specializing in natural medicine wrote a food plan which consisted only of Kangaroo meat and vegetables including Slippery Elm, Psyllium Husk, Nilflam Anti Inflammatory and some other herbs.
After being on this strict food plan, Rascale’s visits to the vet reduced significantly until it became a rare occurrence. What traditional medicine could not improve, natural medicine did. We were disappointed to realize that within the veterinary industry, a natural food plan that Rascale was on, was looked upon as bizarre and outlandish. I was amazed that other vets did not embrace a way that proved to work and that could benefit other dogs with similar illnesses.
Many weeks had gone by and Rascale had improved and was back to her normal self. However, in January 2010, six weeks after her illness, we noticed that she was doing something quite odd. Whilst she stood in one position, she seemed to shudder and lean forward. Her head would bob slightly and appeared slightly weak in the hind legs. We rushed her to the Emergency Department at the University of Qld, Small Animal Clinic where it was initially considered a paralysis tick or a possible stroke. All tests came back inconclusive. She was then quickly referred to the Veterinary Specialist Services in Underwood (Ironically the same place that Corey had gone for his Addison Disease treatment).
Rascale underwent a MRI and CSF (Cerebral Spinal Fluid) collection test. The results confirmed Rascale had ‘Meningitis’. She was the oldest living dog to have this disease.
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It is life-threatening because of the inflammation’s proximity to the brain and spinal cord. With dogs, Meningitis is an Autoimmune Disease, it is not caused by bacterial or viral reasons. According to the specialists this was a disease that had unknown causes.
During Rascales illness, I researched further and found medical papers that stated that it was possible that meningitis in dogs can occur as a result of particular antibiotics being given over a short period of time and usually occurs 6 weeks after receiving intense antibiotic treatment. To us this seemed to calculate with her episode of recent illness and treatment of antibiotics over 4 weeks. The Antibiotics given over that period was Noroclave, Clavulox, Amoxycillin, Metronidazole and Metrogyl.
We loved and adored Rascale and ensured she had all treatment that was required. It was such a difficult time to see our fur-baby so ill. We had almost lost her and it was her inner strength and will to live that pulled her through. She was regarded by medical staff at the Specialist unit as strong and resilient and extremely lucky to have survived. We were so relieved that she was under the care of the Doctor who specialized in Meningitis and other brain conditions. We felt so blessed that there are Doctors who are trained in this specific area and that they saved her life.
Rascale’s treatment involved steroids. It was amazing how she had slowed down considerably from her illness. It was heartbreaking. This once energetic dog that ran around playing like a puppy was subdued. She barked less and became less interested in things like walking along the beach and going for walks. Rascale preferred to be carried. So that is exactly what she got.
Rascales treatment involved weekly, fortnightly and then six weekly visits to the Specialist Unit. The steroids were to reduce in dosage over a period of time, however whenever they were reduced some of her Meningitis symptoms would return. So her dosage would need to be increased again. Eventually to remain on a maintenance level of steroids. She never did have the desire or ability to run again like she did before the Meningitis. However I loved seeing parts of her cheeky personality coming back every now and again, even rolling over onto her back and stretching was a celebration of her improvement.
In August 2010, seven months after being diagnosed with Meningitis, we found she was acting oddly again. When on walks and crossing bridges she had started hesitating to cross and moving away from the sides. The vet thought this could just be an old age process. Then while on holidays we noticed that she seemed to have trouble seeing the steps outside and was bumping into walls and furniture. We immediately took her to the Specialist Unit. Rascale was diagnosed with ‘Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome’ (SARDS).
SARDS is a disease in dogs that causes sudden blindness and Rascale was going to become completely blind in a matter of days to weeks. We were informed that SARDS is an Autoimmune Disease and is a result of the Meningitis. Rascales Autoimmune Disease was rejecting or attacking body tissue and that as time went on, her organ parts will be affected, we just never knew what body tissue it would involve. For Rascale, this was her vision.
We feared daily what other tissue this Autoimmune Disease would reject in her body. And it seemed to be progressing quite quickly. Not much advice could be given to us as to how to manage her at home. We were given some basic information and also a collar tag that said ‘IM BLIND’. We were so upset to see this happening to our little girl. We only had a very short time frame to teach and train her to move about the house.
We searched for books to help us with the condition and how to manage a SARDS dog. We eventually found some books that catered for SARDS. However, we had to wait for them to come from America. Meanwhile, we initiated some of our own strategies. We placed rubber tubing around all the furniture legs and corners. Bought runners that ran from different parts of the house including to her bed and water. We even scented her bedding and parts of the house with fragrant oils. The next step was to teach Rascale how to move about the house, use the runners and realize that a certain fragrant oil scent meant she was in close proximity to her bed and water and allowed her to find it.
Through training and encouragement Rascale learnt her surroundings. Even when we moved house she adapted to her environment so quickly. She was fascinating to watch, using her nose to tap along walls and parts of furniture to find the kitchen, to find her bed and to find her water bowl. Her bed was the only item that was scented and she knew that her water was on the left side of her bed. Rascale was totally house trained, always using her doggy door. This changed when she became fully blind.
I remember our holiday on the Sunshine Coast when Rascale was fully blind. She no longer enjoyed walking along the beach however she loved to be carried and while in our arms would stretch her head up and sniff the air and give a sigh. We knew she was enjoying herself. Unfortunately it would be our last holiday with Rascale.
In August 2011, 19 months after being diagnosed with Meningitis and 12 months since becoming blind our world was about to change. Rascale was diagnosed with early stages of kidney disease. Our thoughts at the time were that we managed through the Meningitis and the SARDS, we would do everything we could to get through the kidney disease. We visited Rascales vet and set up another food plan for this new condition. This also required her to have regular testing however the expectation was that her kidney disease progression would be slow.
Rascale left us on 23 July 2012 at 1.45pm, this was 2 years and 7 months after being diagnosed with Meningitis. Her kidney disease had progressed significantly. It was the most difficult time of our lives. Words cannot describe the pain and anguish that we experienced at this time and for some time after. The love that we had for Rascale and the sadness of her leaving us is with us today. That special personality that was her. Forever a memory.
We light a candle in memory of our girl nightly. It was our routine from the day Rascale joined our life to relax and give her lots of cuddles and massages in the evening. We miss Rascale deeply. Our little girl was 15 years of age when she left us to go to the ‘Rainbow Bridge’.