I was told about Shona’s story by a friend a few days after she’d been admitted to internal medicine at the DMV in Lachine. Shona, got very sick with leptospirosis causing very serious damage to her kidneys. She was in the hospital for a week fighting for her life.

This is Shona’s story as told by her moms; Alika and Heather.

The very first sign that she wasn’t herself was when she got these little hackles on her lower back. She gets hackles when she’s angry or scared but not like that. On this one morning she had these lower back hackles and she was eating but she was eating so slowly, very unlike her. Then the next morning, she stood at the top of the stairs and she didn’t want to come down. That’s when we knew there was something wrong with her.

We immediately thought, it’s got to be her back since she’s had a history of back pain caused by an injury five years ago. We took her in to see an acupuncturist at the vet thinking it was an adjustment she needed. Unfortunately, the acupuncturist worked on her a bit and then told us that Shona’s case was out of her hands so we were referred to somebody else in the clinic.

When she still wasn’t getting better after a few days, we went to see another vet, we did blood tests right away and they phoned us with the results to tell us that everything was within reason, that there was nothing alarming and she was fine. The only thing that had come up was inflammation in her blood, that we knew. They prescribed antibiotics and pain killers and we went home.

After another couple days, she still wasn’t getting better. She was eating less and less so we had to trick her into eating. We had to get her really excited and sing to her and do all kinds of ridiculous things to get her to eat and she would have like, one bite and that’s it. We were trying everything and she just wasn’t eating.

I called the vet back to ask if they were sure nothing was wrong with her kidneys because she was just drinking so much water and she had started vomiting here and there and she was throwing up the water she’s drinking.

So we went back for the third time, they did an x-ray and told us that nothing’s wrong. The vet was throwing treats at her and said; “There’s nothing wrong with this dog, she’s eating treats and her eyes look lively. Dogs are finicky, they pick up if humans are emotional, you girls are probably just to emotional with her.” We walked out of there feeling so angry and defeated, we were just so pissed off. This is our dog, this was the third week of her not being herself, we knew that something was just not right.

After going to see three vets, she was still pretty much not eating, she was losing weight and nobody could seem to figure it out. It didn’t make any sense. So we decided to contact an animal communicator. I booked an appointment online withSusan Deren, in Massachusetts.

Susan knew that Shona had injured her back five years ago, that she’s got discs that are causing her a lot of pain and that Shona needed to see a chiropractor for a manual adjustment. 

We took Susan’s advice and started looking for a chiropractor. We found Catherine Lavoie in Ontario and booked an appointment with her right away. By the time we saw her, Shona was sitting funny, her legs were weird in the back and she was shaking. The minute Catherine touched Shona she said “She’s so locked up. She has a rib that’s out three inches from the bottom of her shoulder blades.” She adjusted her but had a lot of trouble touching her near her kidneys. Shona was so uncomfortable in that area. The moment we got home from the appointment Shona threw up.

Catherine followed up with us the next day. We updated her and told her that Shona had woken up that morning and threw up again. Right away, she referred us to Dr. Lisa Carioto whose an internal medicine specialist at the DMV in Lachine.

In order to get an appointment with internal medicine at the DMV, you need a referral. We went to see Dr. Mold at Sherwood Park Animal Hospital. She did a blood test and Shona’s creatine levels were at 1200 – normal creatine levels are 130. Dr. Mold took a urine sample and told us to head to the DMV right away.

When we arrived at the DMV we are seen by emergency doctor, Claude Lefebvre. She took one look at Shona’s files and said “Excuse me? Her creatine levels were at 180 four weeks ago and she wasn’t drinking and the vet’s office didn’t follow up?” You could see it in her face, she was so angry!

There we were, running around in circles, because we didn’t know. I hadn’t asked to see the blood test with my own eyes, I figured those people had had Shona’s best interest at heart.

Dr. Lefebvre got her in for ultra sounds for her heart and for her kidneys followed by a urine test. They hospitalized her right away putting her on an iv and a feeding tube. We felt so relieved because finally she was in good hands and finally somebody was going to do something for Shona.

The next day emergency called to tell us that Shona had tested positive for leptospirosis. Leptospira was the bacteria that was attacking her kidneys. It’s a zoonotic disease that can transfer to humans as well.They told us it’s really contagious and can be fatal.

When we went in to see her, she looked so bad, she was so out of it. We asked if they could test her creatine levels again and by then her levels had climbed up to 1300!

The emergency team told us her creatine levels weren’t going to go down, so the best thing we could do was to go home and prepare. We went home in complete shock, still trying to keep our shit together for Jackson. He of course, could feel that something was wrong. That was the worst night of our lives.

We drove back in the morning with her blanket and her toys, trying to make peace with it. We were just trying to think: She’s such a good dog, such an amazing dog, maybe she just doesn’t need to be here this long. She’s done everything she could in this life.

That day, the day that we were faced with possibly loosing Shona, there was a woman that came into the DMV to see her pet and she turned and saw us lying in Shona’s little cage with her and she blew us a kiss in the air.  Heather looked at me and said “I feel like we have angels around us. There are people here who care.”

From that moment on, we were sent from emergency into internal medicine and Shona was put into Dr. Lecavalier’s care. She told us that they’d had multiple lepto cases and that she had a plan. They were going to attack the bacteria that’s attacking Shona’s kidneys and then they’ll flush everything with fluids. Once that’s all done she can go home and heal at home. When we heard that she can go home and heal at home we couldn’t believe it. We felt like we were on an emotional rollercoaster and now we were cautiously hopeful again.

After the first day of treatments to attack the bacteria, we went in the next day and her creatine levels had dropped from 1300 to 900. It was such a good sign! Her kidneys were damaged but her creatine levels were dropping.

The next day, we decided to bring Jackson with us so he and Shona could see each other. She was no longer contagious, she was fighting the bug and she was on insane amounts of antibiotics and fluids to flush everything out, but she hadn’t pooped in 5 days.

The moment Jackson saw her, he looked at her as though he was thinking, “I can’t believe she’s here!” He was so happy! Shona saw Jackson through the car window and she turned around and she went to poop. It was as if she decided, “That’s it! I’m going home!”

Before we left the DMV with Shona, the doctors taught us how to feed her through her feeding tube and administer her medication and fluids. She’s fed through her feeding tube four times a day and has six different medications that are all given to her through the feeding tube. For fluids, we have to put a needle under her skin and slowly release the fluid with an iv bag every night.

I got an update on Shona’s health from Alika yesterday:

This Wednesday marks exactly a week since she was released from the DMV and Shona ate half a can of food off her plate for the first time! She’ll still need to have her feeding tube, though until she’s able to eat full meals.

Yesterday, Shona had her first follow up blood test to check her current creatine levels and they have dropped from 900 to 571! They’re still very high but internal medicine says this drop is good news and that her creatine has a trend now and will probably keep going down.

Shona’s next blood test is in two weeks and if her creatine levels keep dropping it’ll be a great sign. The doctors said it could take could still take months for her creatine levels to be back to ‘normal’, whatever her new normal will be.

While she was at her check up Shona got so excited to see all of her emergency vet friends that she ate a quarter cup of kibble and ten treats! It was unbelievable!

We’re all alive. We’re super grateful. We couldn’t have done any of this without all the help

After almost two months of vet visits and a week at the DMV as well as months of follow ups still to come, Shona’s vet bills are absolutely astronomical. Please consider helping this family with Shona’s vet bills so they keep her healthy and happy. They have a GoFundMe page and any amount you can spare will help them immensely.

Heather and Alika, Thank you for trusting me to tell Shona’s story.