I am sad to let my friends here know that my lovely little Lucy passed away peacefully Wednesday morning, in her sleep -- she was still curled in a ball in a nice soft basket, with Tansy nearby. Lucy has been the most wonderful dog, with a strong and quirky personality that has been a delight to know since she came to my family as a retired breeding girl around age 7. She was just a few weeks from her 12th birthday.
As many know, Lucy had been struggling with MVD and CHF for some time. She was an incredibly resilient and strong little dog -- she had lived without needing meds for a grade 5 murmur for over a year and was well up for active walks until last summer. Last autumn she needed finally to start on meds and did really well until around February when she started having more difficulty. I thought a couple of times since then that it might be her time, but I learned so much about the determination and bravery of this breed and about managing MVD from Lucy: given a little time and some extra frusimide, and eventually the addition of spironolactone, which stopped her occasional fainting spells from MVD completely for a couple of months, she had a very good quality of life (albeit with no further walks except a little snuffle around outside, and needing to carry her up and down stairs and lift her on and off sofas ).
As my vet says, most other dogs with a grade 5 murmur might last a few weeks at most, but cavaliers are often, unpredictably, able to manage with this terrible disease for months and even years.
Indeed she had been doing so well that I began to think she might well go on for several months -- she already had lived nearly 5 months since I had thought she had reached her final day. I was just about to arrange for her to return to the cardiologist to get his opinion on where she was now and what more might be done. But she had a couple of wobbly spells last week, just before I had to go to the US -- a trip I could not avoid, as my own much adored father passed away a few weeks ago and last Sunday was his remembrance/life celebration lunch in California.
Thelly had the care of my crew and knew all about Lucy and I fully trusted her to take any needed decisions. I had felt I might not see Lucy again and had given her a special hug and kiss when I handed her over. The whole week that I was away passed without incident, but when I landed I had a message from Thelly, that Lucy had passed away only hours earlier. I was so sad not to be there with her, but I was so happy that she had the rare blessing of passing peacefully in her sleep. She had enjoyed her bedtime treats with her usual gusto and was not in distress as she went to sleep the night before.
I am very grateful to Thelly for caring so willingly and lovingly for my Lucy at a time that was difficult for me, which was generous and kind. She also knew that Lucy was to go to the vet school hospital in Dublin to be part of Margaret Carter's Tissue Collection scheme for cavalier health research, and thus Lucy -- who was already MRI scanned for research as clear of SM at age 9, and was therefore a very helpful dog for SM research -- was able to further help the SM DNA work, and other projects on SM and MVD at a number of UK institutions.
Like Marie-Anne (Wagtails) and Nicki and others whose dogs have gone to this important project, I encourage anyone with an ill or older cavalier to contact Margaret or Tania about the possibility of having your dog help the entire breed in this way. It is deeply consoling at a hard time. There are arrangements for dogs in either the UK or Ireland to take part.
2011 has been a sad time -- saying farewell to my dad, to Quincy and to Lucy in the period of a few short months. I would like to imagine dad somewhere with couple of warm furries on his lap. When she lived with my parents, he often walked Lucy to get his exercise in each day and she always made him laugh, not least as she often brought a collection of socks and other objects she cherished to a nest in the middle of their bed.
Lucy and Quincy, perhaps reunited somewhere now, on a similarly soft sofa :
And my dad:
Much love to you all.