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Friday, April 23, 2010

Difficult and Heartbreaking Decisions



Ilu was diagnosed with discospondylitis which is an infection in the vertebrae. It is a blood borne infection that could have been caused by a foreign body, an injury or it could have just "happened" with no known cause. The good news is that he is likely to live a relatively pain free life with extended treatment. In 100 cases studied, most return to normal function. "Most" refers to pet dogs and not working dogs. The area of his infection is a very vulnerable one in the first place for working dogs. It is probable that he will not return to work and after much thoughtful consideration we've decided that he must be retired.

In a small working kennel where a dog with Ilu's condition will more likely than not be left behind alone when we all take to the trail and a dog of Ilu's breed, a Canadian Inuit Dog, is not suited as a house pet and even more so in our situation with two little dogs already ruling the house, the question is what is best for Ilu and what options are available to him? Being left behind would crush him and break his spirit.

When I began dog mushing I would hear other mushers speak of "kennel management". It felt like a dirty word to me and I refused to even consider that it might become necessary at some point. I am afraid that after struggling with this concept for a few years now, it is indeed a reality for a small working kennel. If there was unlimited space in our current kennel situation and/or he could become a house dog things would be different but, sadly, they aren't.

A dear friend, Genevieve, who happens to be the co-founder of the Inuit Sled Dog International organization and who is currently providing a wonderful retirement home for our Tukisi and Isis, now 11 and almost 12 years old, offered to provide a retirement home for Ilu. Adding more sadness to the situation for us is that Inuit Dogs bond so closely with their kennel mates and separating them would not be in their best interest, therefore we will be losing Icoa, Ilu's mother, as well. We aren't sad for them because they will have a wonderful life. We are, however, very sad for ourselves and our kennel as those two are dear to us and have provided so many smiles and good memories for us and our guests over the years.

Ilu will remain on 1000mg of Cephalexan 3 times a day for six weeks. At which time he will have another x-ray to see if the infection is subsiding. The real clue will be how he is behaving. Right now, he is guarding this area and when he bursts into a run he yelps in pain. He is on pain relievers as needed and anti-inflammatory medication to stop the swelling and help with the discomfort. Today while running I heard no yelp, so I am hopeful this medication will work. He is likely to remain on this antibiotic regime for up to a year as this type of infection is very difficult to attack as there is not a very strong blood flow to the area affected. During his treatment and after he will enjoy daily romps in the Canadian bush with momma Icoa, be pampered with hugs and home made dog food daily and bones weekly. They will have it extremely well!

Thanks to all of you who have offered kind words of support to us during this difficult time. Send positive vibes Ilu's way!

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