Harry by Dawn Jenness / Dawn

This is a story of my best friend who passed away February 4th, 2003. Harry is an example of what can happen to pets on commercial pet foods. By the time I had the education I have now, he was already sick. Please take care of your pets. For more information, visit www.mypethaven.com. We carry Healthy Pet Net natural pet foods. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

One beautiful spring day, I walked into a local pet store like I had done many times before, just to see the animals. I noticed a small crowd standing around. Something had their attention. All I heard was awe, he’s so cute! When I looked down to see what had everyone smiling so much, there was the cutest little ball of fur running around saying “hello” to everyone in his path. The floors were slippery from the wax, and this sweet little thing was sliding all over the place. When he came running up to me, I picked him up and saw the sweetest little face I had ever seen in my life. He was so tiny, that I could hold him sitting up in one hand. And when he started licking my face like there was no tomorrow, I knew I had to have him. He was six weeks old. I purchased him on the spot. Don’t ask me why I picked the name Harry. It just seemed to fit.

My apartment at the time had crooked floors. Harry had to keep his feet moving uphill in order to stay at his food dish! After about two nights of him crying and whimpering, I decided to let him sleep with me. Besides being tired of losing sleep, who could resist that little face? He was a ball of pure entertainment. There was never a dull moment with him around, and I talked to him every day. When I took him for his walks, many people thought he was a kitten, just because he was so small. I had a 16 1/2 lb. cat at the time, his name was Christopher, and they became the best of buddies. What a joy he was the first time he saw snow! At first, he didn’t want to put his paw down in it, but before you knew it, he was tearing up the yard and burying his face in it! When he brought his face up out of the snow, I just about laughed myself to death!

When he was about nine months old, I let him out one morning to go to the bathroom and I heard this poor little thing just screaming! I ran outside to find that he had just urinated blood! I rushed him to his veterinarian and he found that Harry had Canine Urological Syndrome. This disease causes crystals to form which go through the urinary tract when he tries to go to the bathroom. The vet recommended putting him on Canine c/d food and medication. I did. As time went on, Harry had many “episodes”. The same thing happening over and over again. I had to leave him for the day so they could flush his system every time. The poor little thing. I’ll never forget that. It was awful, mostly for him, but for me too. Harry loved everyone.

He was the friendliest little dog you could ever have the pleasure to meet. Even people that didn’t like dogs-liked Harry. He was spoiled to the hilt! He had more toys than any dog I had ever known. Sweaters, t-shirts, even boots so his feet wouldn’t freeze in the wintertime. After some years went by, I discovered that Harry was slowing down, and he was losing some of his beautiful hair. I took him into the vet, and we found that Harry had problems with his thyroid. They again put him on more medication.

That worked for a few more years. He was a happy little fellow, in spite of having now two diseases. No one would have ever thought that he was sick. He brightened everyone’s day who came in contact with him. If you can say that animals have heart, Harry had the biggest heart of them all. The most loving dog I had ever known. When I picked him up, he would nestle his head on my neck, just like he was giving me a “hug”. It always melted my heart. And at night, he slept sideways just below the pillow next to me. Every morning after I let him out, he would run to the kitchen and do his little “tapdance”, because he knew it was “treat time”. He got his medication, his vitamin and his treat.

A few days ago, when I brought him in from outside, there was no “tapdance”. He just sat there. He didn’t want to move. I thought “oh, God”, what’s wrong? So I brought his treats to him instead. He started limping, and I thought he had just hurt his paw because he had slipped down a couple of the stairs on his way outside. Later in the day he started shaking and having nervous twitching in his stomach and legs. He was having a very hard time walking. His limbs were getting stiff. I was so afraid! I took him to the vet where they ran blood tests and found that he had contracted Cushing’s Disease.

Cushing’s disease is the production of too much adrenal hormone. Cushing’s disease causes increased drinking, increased urination, increased appetite, panting, high blood pressure, hair loss – usually evenly distributed on both sides of the body, pendulous abdomen, thinning of the skin, calcified lumps in the skin, susceptibility to skin infections and diabetes, weakening of the heart and skeletal muscles, nervous system disease and other symptoms. He already had so many of these symptoms, but the vet thought for a long time that it was due to his thyroid problem.

Treatment usually consists of destroying the part of the adrenal cortex that produces steroids. A drug called Mitotane (op’DDD, or Lysodren) is used. An initial dose period is usually followed by a maintenance dose period. It may be as seldom as once a week. The animal will have to be monitored lifelong. A few of the dogs may develop a potentially dangerous condition called hypoadrenalcorticism or Addison’s disease. This is the opposite extreme from Cushing’s. These dogs require lifelong dosages of steroids to maintain health. The vet, after seeing the condition Harry was in, told me that he may have had this disease for about 2 years already. The average life span of a Cushing patient after diagnosis is about 2 years.

Complications include blood clots, infections, high blood pressure, heart failure, inability to control the disease and increased nervous signs. I was not about to put Harry through all of this. The vet had told me that some dogs die during treatment, and that if they did make it, it’s a long road along the way. The medication can cause severe vomiting and stomach cramps. Some dogs cannot absorb it, rendering it useless in 20-25 percent of cases. That night, I fed him while he was lying in my bed, on his side. He could hardly get up anymore.

Harry was the happiest dog I had ever known, despite all of what had happened his whole life. Now I see my best friend so sick, and in so much pain. His nervous system had been damaged from this disease. I stayed awake all night with him, talking to him, petting him,
telling him how much I love him.

He continued to get worse. I was so afraid he was going to have a seizure. I couldn’t bear it. Harry was put to rest on February 4th, 2003, while myself and my good friend stood beside him. We gave him a kiss and said goodbye. I cried so hard. It broke my heart to lose him that way, shaking, so weak, so sad. He would have had
his 12th birthday next month.

My home is empty now. There’s no one here to greet me when I come home. No one is here to comfort me when I’m down. No more “hugs”. I have no one to talk to here at home anymore. It’s so quiet. I look in the livingroom corner to see his empty bed where he used to curl up while I worked on the computer. I slept in the bed for the first time last night. I looked to the floor, but Harry wasn’t there to be picked up and put into bed. I put my hand on the spot where Harry was laying the night before.
I talk to him, but he’s no longer there.
My best friend and companion is gone.


My Sweet Harry.
I will miss you always.
Dawn Jenness