Im Memoriam: Diva

For many years I worked as a veterinary technician, which is how Diva came into my life. She was one of the six survivors, out of a litter of fourteen, delivered by cesarean section. The breeder opted to spay her mother at the same time, and guess what? No testing for von Willebrand's Disease and the mother had bleeding problems. For ten days we weren't sure we were going to be able to save her.

A spoiled rotten Corgi

During this time the breeder was not only having to transfer the mother between our veterinary hospital for daytime care and the emergency clinic for nighttime care, but she was also trying to bottle raise fourteen puppies. They were dying on a daily basis.

When there were only six left, she requested that we euthanize them because she couldn't take it anymore. We said 'no' and had her transfer them over to the hospital in hopes of saving any of them. Because I had been working only on the mother, I didn't see any of the puppies until they were dropped off at the hospital. As I walked past the basket, someone lifted up Diva, and as soon as I saw her, I heard myself saying "I'll take that one if it lives..." The connection was instantaneous.

All six puppies thrived from that point; the breeder requested one particular puppy back and the other five were picked by employees.

By the time Diva was seven months old I had made the transition to self employment and she and I were together 24/7. Our bond was incredible. I've had many, many dogs in my life but she was THE one.

We have a farm on 42 acres, with sheep and chickens, all of whom existed solely for Diva's amusement (or so she believed). She would run full bore through a group of chickens and scatter them everywhere, then run back to me as if to say "Did you see that?!"

Diva thought she was "all that"!

We have a large field out back where I used to take her on an almost daily basis for a run. She loved to run through the tall grass, biting at it as she went. I always told Brett that she liked to feel the grass sliding through her teeth like dental floss.

Brett loved her so much that he would plow a path around the field in the winter (no mean feat!) so she could continue her daily excursions.

Diva running in her field: "This was heaven for her."

When Brett took Diva with him whenever he was working in the yard, she'd end up sitting in front of the door. He'd go over, let her back in the house, look at me and say "she wants to be with you." When I'd be gone to a show (part of my business), he'd tell me when I got back "she's just not happy when you're not here."

This photo was taken after we'd had very large storm and
I was shoveling a path into the chicken house.
I stopped to take a break and looked behind me.
Diva was just sitting there, watching me as if to say
"You're doing a great job Mom, keep it up!"

The years flew by.

Last Memorial Day weekend I thought Diva was "off". I had put some poison in the camper when it was closed up for the winter and I know she hadn't gotten into the camper to actually eat the poison but I worried that she had found the rodent that ate the poison and had eaten that.

The following Tuesday I brought her to my current vet and said "something's wrong". Bloodwork showed that Diva had lost half her red blood cells, which would support that she had ingested some of the poison. We started treating her for that and I brought her back every day to be checked.

Two days later when she wasn't responding to the treatment (which she should have if it was poison), Dr. L. wondered if she didn't have leptospirosis (a bacterial infection, usually picked up by contact with infected rodent urine). So we started her on an antibiotic.

Diva spent Thursday and Friday days at my veterinary hospital with me monitoring her during the night. On Friday, Dr. L. thought it would be best for her to spend the weekend at an emergency clinic for 24 hour monitoring. So off she went.

By this time, we knew she was not responding to the treatment for leptospirosis. Dr. R. at the emergency clinic did a quick ultrasound and called us to tell us she thought Diva had liver cancer. Right, I thought ... she's five years old.

Dr. R. suggested that we take Diva to another emergency clinic where a veterinarian board certified in ultrasound could give us a definitive answer. Dr. G. performed the ultrasound and found cancer everywhere she looked. Liver, pancreas, lungs, lymph nodes. Diva was also bleeding into her abdomen and chest. Dr. G. offered to take samples and send them off to Tufts pathology department for review.

By now, Brett and I were realizing that there was probably nothing that could be done to save Diva but we needed to know for sure, so the samples were sent off. We retrieved Diva and brought her home for whatever time she had left.

We received the results on Tuesday. Multiple pathologists at Tufts reviewed the samples and said they'd never seen anything like it. They couldn't say exactly what kind of cancer Diva had but suspected it originated in her blood, which would explain why it was everywhere.

By that night, Diva was failing and we released her from any additional pain.

* * * * *

I took this picture of her grave one afternoon
while I worked on building the rock wall.
I can picture Diva climbing the light right to heaven.

* * * * *

I have since found out that Diva's parents have both died from cancer at ages six and seven. I have contacted former co-workers with siblings to advise them to be vigilant about their puppies' health.

Diva was the product of a backyard breeder who was thinking more about selling puppies than producing healthy dogs. I would strongly caution anyone considering adding a Corgi to their family to carefully search for a reputable breeder. Please keep this in mind if you are thinking about bringing a puppy into your home.

We will get another Corgi someday. Brett wants a chance to have his once in a lifetime dog and I can't deny him that. We've been joking that Corgis will someday take over the world because once you've had one in your life, there can be no other breed...

Diane K., Otisfield, Maine 1 August 2010
Reproduced with kind permission.