In Memory of Connor

March 1, 2010 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog

Hi Lisa,

Me and my wife have just lost our boy to Liver disease. It crept up so quickly we are both still in shock and disbelief. He slowed down eating etc around 4 before. As with you he had symptoms before this but they were up and down and we just believed that after antibiotics he was better. By the time we got him to the vet recently he was not a well boy. He had blood in the liver and was not getting better, as we were waiting for Blood tests etc to be done. They put him on a drip to replace any lost fluids and we were just left to wait for the results while he was tested. After a long wait we were told that he was effectively bleeding to death. We made the obvious decision to have him put down. As hard as this was for me and my wife we felt that there was nothing else to do. ALthough i was gutted. As with you guys we found ourselves telling him how much we love him and telling him this was for the best. He died in my arms on Thursday 25 Feb. Me and my wife are both devastated and cant help but blame ourselves that we should have picked it up sooner. We love our dogs and we still have Connor’s friend Matilda who is keeping us sane but still miss and think of him everyday.

Everything I do leads to this beautifully natured dog who had such a impact on us. I wanted to share this with you as I believe that Connor was so special it would not seem right not having his story for others to read. He was a Legend and will be missed deeply.

Please Please Please anyone with any of the symptoms get their dogs checked. Even if you are not sure. Its so better to be safe rather than sorry.

We love you Connor

Take care buddy.

Matt and Gabrielle Page

One Year

October 30, 2009 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog

Hello to all of you that have used our website and contacted me this past year.

From the time I put the website up in January to this past week, the affirmation that I have received from you all has been amazing.  I used to get 1-2 emails per month asking for resources, sharing stories or just looking for a sympathetic ear and now I get 1-2 per day.  We have over 3300 visitors to the website each month and we are #1 on google for various search terms related to canine liver disease.  Our site has become successful beyond what I could have imagined.

The good news is that the website is helping to inform, give hope and connect people who are dealing with this terrible disease.  It is becoming a premiere resource for people searching for information to help their pets and dear friends & I am SO grateful that I can be a part of making a difference, even a small one, in the lives of a family and their furry friend.

It has been 1 year on this exact day since our beloved Reiley passed away and I am reminded each day through the work I do for CLDF that her death was not in vain.  I miss her each and every day and am very sad that she was taken from me at only 9 years of age by something so terrible as liver disease.  I am angry that more is not done to help understand and eradicate this problem and I am working toward trying to make a difference in the prevention and early detection of CLD.

Thank you to all who have written to me, called and emailed, it is for you and your pets that I do what I do.  Thank you for helping me to keep Reiley’s memory alive and well each and every day, I do miss her very much and love her still.


Lisa Smith

Founder, Canine Liver Disease Foundation

Dedicated to my first “baby”, Reiley – I love you, miss you & we are making a difference!

Dog’s Last Will and Testament

October 30, 2009 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog

On the 1 year anniversary of our Reiley passing away, I thought I would post this poignant piece of writing.  May it help any of you that are going through what we went through just a year ago.  Our hearts still ache & we miss our girl everyday but know she is feeling better now. ~ Lisa

I came across this wonderful piece of writing by Eugene O’Neill, the well known American playwright and a Nobel prize recipient. He reportedly wrote this to comfort his wife when their beloved dog, Blemie, was in his last days:

” Last Will and Testament”

I, Silverdene Emblem O’Neill (familiarly known to my family, friends and acquaintances as Blemie), because the burden of my years is heavy upon me, and I realize the end of my life is near, do hereby bury my last will and testament in the mind of my Master. He will not know it is there until I am dead. Then, remembering me in his loneliness, he will suddenly know of this testament, and I ask him then to inscribe it as a memorial to me.

I have little in the way of material things to leave. Dogs are wiser than men. They do not set great store upon things. They do not waste their time hoarding property. They do not ruin their sleep worrying about objects they have, and to obtain the objects they have not. There is nothing of value I have to bequeath except my love and my faith. These I leave to those who have loved me, to my Master and Mistress, who I know will mourn me most, to Freeman who has been so good to me, to Cyn and Roy and Willie and Naomi and – but if I should list all those who have loved me it would force my Master to write a book. Perhaps it is in vain of me to boast when I am so near death, which returns all beasts and vanities to dust, but I have always been an extremely lovable dog.

I ask my Master and Mistress to remember me always, but not to grieve for me too long. In my life I have tried to be a comfort to them in time of sorrow, and a reason for added joy in their happiness. It is painful for me to think that even in death I should cause them pain. Let them remember that while no dog has ever had a happier life (and this I owe to their love and care for me), now that I have grown blind and deaf and lame, and even my sense of smell fails me so that a rabbit could be right under my nose and I might not know, my pride has sunk to a sick, bewildered humiliation. I feel life is taunting me with having over lingered my welcome. It is time I said good-by, before I become too sick a burden on myself and on those who love me.

It will be sorrow to leave them, but not a sorrow to die. Dogs do not fear death as men do. We accept it as part of life, not as something alien and terrible which destroys life. What may come after death, who knows? I would like to believe with those of my fellow Dalmatians who are devout Mohammedans, that there is a Paradise where one is always young and full-bladdered; here all the day one dillies and dallies with an amorous multitude of houris, beautifully spotted; where jack-rabbits that run fast but not too fast (like the houris) are as the sands of the desert; where each blissful hour is mealtime; where in long evenings there are a million fireplaces with logs forever burning and one curls oneself up and blinks into the flames and nods and dreams, remembering the old brave days on earth, and the love of one’s Master and Mistress.

I am afraid this is too much for even such a dog as I am to expect. But peace, at least, is certain. Peace and long rest for weary old heart and head and limbs, and eternal sleeps in the earth I have loved so well. Perhaps, after all, this is best.

One last request I earnestly make. I have heard my Mistress say, ‘When Blemie dies we must never have another dog. I love him so much I could never love another one.’ Now I would ask her, for love of me, to have another. It would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again. What I would like to feel is that, having once had me in the family, now she cannot live without a dog! I have never had a narrow jealous spirit. I have always held that most dogs are good (and one cat, the black one I have permitted to share the living-room rug during the evenings, whose affection I have tolerated in a kindly spirit, and in rare sentimental moods, even reciprocated a trifle). Some dogs, of course, are better than others. Dalmatians, naturally, as everyone knows, are best.

So I suggest a Dalmatian as my successor. He can hardly be as well bred, or as well mannered or as distinguished and handsome as I was in my prime. My Master and Mistress must not ask the impossible. But he will do his best, I am sure, and even his inevitable defects will help by comparison to keep my memory green. To him I bequeath my collar and leash and my overcoat and raincoat, made to order in 1929 at Hermes in Paris. He can never wear them with the distinction I did, walking around the Place Vendome, or later along Park Avenue, all eyes fixed on me in admiration; but again I am sure he will do his utmost not to appear a mere gauche provincial dog. Here on the ranch, he may prove himself quite worthy of comparison, in some respects. He will, I presume, come closer to jackrabbits than I have been able to in recent years. And, for all his faults, I hereby wish him the happiness I know will be his in my old home.

One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress. Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: ‘here lies one who loved us and whom we loved.’ No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail. “

In Memory of Karna

October 28, 2009 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog

Family and friends,

We want you to know that Karna, our 5 year old German Shepherd, was put to sleep today due to irreversible liver disease.

He was a brave and loving dog who brought warmth and affection to all he met. He will be deeply missed.


Tony and Melissa

Elevated Liver Enzymes

March 12, 2009 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog

A year ago at Jake’s annual checkup a senior panel was done and his Alk Phos level was elevated at 360. We had follow up 3 and 4 month follow up testing and it was unchanged. No other values were elevated at that time. We had our annual checkup last week and the results of his liver enzyme panel were not good. This time not only was the alk phos elevated to 662 but his ast and alt levels were also elevated, 289 and 687 respectfully. Obviously this was very disheartening as he is clinically asymptomatic. He shows no signs of any problems associated with these results. I immediately got on the internet and started reading to understand more about the potential for liver disease and found your foundation website. I wanted to tap into your experience and knowledge and hopefully get some feedback from you. We have an appointment Monday for xrays. My concern is this is the first time other enzyme levels have been elevated and could this be a fluke or testing error!! I found a round table discussion on this and it suggested repeating the test in 2 to 3 weeks to substantiate the results. I need to have this discussion with my vet and will do so Monday. Another concern is what I am feeding Jake. About six months ago I put him on a raw food diet (Primal). I tried to find info to see if this could be potentiating a liver problem. The only supplements he is on are kelp and a probiotic. I did have him on milk thistle when the initial alk phos level was elevated but only did this for two months. He has been on other nutritional supplements for skin and coat but I stopped those. I forgot he is also on organic coconut oil. There is a local health food store that specializes in dog nutrition and I have been following some of their recommendations for maximizing Jake’s health. Other than this Jake has had occasional ear , skin, and pad issues but for the most part had remained in good health. I might also add we exercise regularly, walking twice a day weather permitting. Needless to say I am quite concerned and any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I am considering requesting a consult to see an internal vet specialist. I have some other questions about further testing such as serum bile acid. I might also add that I am in medicine myself and knowing what I know about the human element heightens questions and poses trust issues in the care and treatment of Jake!!! I have had some unpleasant vet experiences and just changed vets so at this point my confidence level is being tested and it scares me… Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing from you.


Barb and Jake

Lassie Forever in Our Hearts

February 26, 2009 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog

Lassie Forever in our Hearts
September 10, 2004 – February 22, 2009
4 years 5 months and 12 days

My Dear Friends,

It’s a beautiful day in heaven at the rainbow bridge and all the angels are feeling very happy. They have a new companion to play with and of course adore. Lassie crossed over to the rainbow bridge at 12:20pm Dogster time (PST) on February 22, 2009.

I am happy that she is with the angels and Jesus is watching over her as always. I am happy to be Lassie’s mommy as she made me proud even in her very last moment.

We had taken Lassie to the vet in morning yesterday as she was increasingly getting weak and was having trouble walking. She was not eating nor drinking. When we reach the clinic the normal occurrence is that she can’t wait for the car door to be opened. But this day was different. She could barely move. We had to call the nurse to help us carry her into the clinic. The vet advised us to let her go but I guess that was not a very easy decision for us to make.

The vet however agreed to give us a couple of days for observing Lassie and said after that Lassie will be needed to be put to sleep if she doesn’t get better. She administered antibiotics and fluids and said that it would be a good idea for Lassie to be at home. As we were getting out of the vet clinic Lassie saw the black cat that usually hangs around the clinic. She immediately tried to pull on the leash and chase the cat. This was really great in a way because she seemed to be full of energy and vigor.

Back at home Lassie was still not consuming any food or drink and finding it oh so very difficult to walk. Lassie is a fighter and she tried very hard to move around the house, resting at all her favorite spots. But evidently it was taking a great toll on her. But not once did she whimper or cry. She was very uncomfortable, but she didn’t show it. We were positive that she will fight on. At one point she tried to pull on her Dada’s socks but she can’t reached it no more. This made me really happy as she was trying to be mischievous and heartbroken.

But come evening nothing really changed much. Lassie’s dada and I decided to take her to the vet in the morning so that she could receive some fluids. Dada tried to administer some meds to Lassie but without any success. Even water was not appealing to Lassie. We decided to pray for her. So we sat beside her on her bed. She hugged me and rested oh so sweetly on my chest. I wish that moment will last forever. I lay her down on her bed and we began to pray asking Jesus for a miracle and also to help Lassie.

In the middle of our prayer Lassie gave out a loud sigh and it was the beginning of the end. She tried to grasp for air, but her long fight had taken its toll on her. Dada immediately called the vet to let her know what was happening, I on the other hand couldn’t control my emotions any more. The tears rolled down and the anxiety increased. In a few moments she was so very quiet and had breathed her very last breath. It was all over. And just like that Lassie was gone from this world. We couldn’t believe it. We refused to believe it. The reality of the whole thing was so intense that it just knocked us off our feet.

A few moments passed and we still hoped for a tail wag or her eyes to open. But that was not to happen. Dada called the vet again to make arrangements for her final journey. We then cleaned her up.
We took Lassie to the vet and left her there so that she could be taken to the crematorium in the morning. She was so peaceful laying there. The last good bye was truly overwhelming.

We kissed her and said our goodbyes. She looked so beautiful; it was as if she was asleep blissfully. This morning we went to the crematorium. The drive seemed very long and never ending. We left her there. It is still so unbelievable. She was so young and had so many more years in her. But Jesus had other plans.

Our baby is gone, our special baby is gone, but she will be forever in our hearts, in our minds and will be part of our soul. In the short time Lassie was with us, she gave us lots of joy, love and happiness. Every part of home, every site outdoors reminds us of her. The emptiness is unbearable but I know with time we will be able to cope with it.

Lassie is blessed and I know that Jesus wanted her with him. I know she is happy with him and some day we will be united again. Lassie was a very bright girl. She knew that it would be hard for us to take the decision to put her down if the time comes, so she gave us the easy way out. She answered the call of Jesus herself and now she is watching over us at the rainbow bridge.

We thank you all for all your love, support, goodwill, prayers, guidance, special gifts, paw-mails, emails, rosettes, angel wings, stars, cards, candles and Lassie’s strolls . Only time and love will help us bear this loss. Lassie will forever be missed and forever in our hearts.

Rest in peace my pretty little Angel.

Love always,
Madeline( Lassie’s mom)

Can Someone Help Me?

February 13, 2009 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog

I am attempting to look for an underlying cause of liver disease in our 10 year old Scottish Terrior. Two years ago, she became very sick at her stomach after having her teeth cleaned. Coincidentally, this was also the time perimeter of the dog food scare. (The food she was eating was not on any of the lists publicized.) I have been assured by more than one source that if she had experienced an episode from the dental cleaning, the liver would not have continued to deteriorate over this course of time. The blood work found that her liver enzymes were grossly abnormal. Radiography was performed and we were advised to have an ultrasound. The ultrasound found that her gall bladder was enlarged and we were referred to UT Vet Hospital in Knoxville for possible emergency surgery and further diagnosis. UT did not see the urgency with the gall bladder and she was hospitalized and monitered for a couple of days. She was released feeling well.

A couple of months later, her liver enzymes continued to be abnormal. We returned to UT for additional testing . They performed a needle biopsy and found a few abnormal cells in her liver, but nothing (they felt) to go further.

She was placed on Ursidial, Benazapril, Denamarin, and Fish Oil. Her bloodwork continued to be monitored at least once each 3 months and the results varied. The liver enzymes continued to be elevated, but increasingly additional protein was found in her urine. Her diet was changed to a high quality low protein diet. She continues to feel well. However, she had increased water consumption. Currently, her urine is very diluted. Sometimes, large proteins show in the urine and other times smaller proteins show up causing us to believe there is some globular nephritis happening.

This has continued over the last 2 years. Every test that we know of has been run including multiple Cushings tests with no results and continued blood and urine tests. A few weeks ago, she did test positive for atypical Cushings. The vet school at UT is not convinced that the atypical test conclusion is accurate.

Our vet referred us back to UT requesting an ultrasound be performed. It was non-conclusive. They recommended a laparascopic biopsy with additional bile, copper, etc tests. We received the results today and they have no idea what the underlying problem could be. Her liver is fragile and the biopsies broke apart with very little bleeding when extracted. Cancer biopsies have shown to be negative. The copper test was not back but the slides showed no crystals. There is some evidence of regeneration. They feel she may be a first and I feel that there has to be another “baby” out there that has had an evasive diagnosis.

I would very much like any suggestions, ideas, etc that anyone may have had that has experienced a difficult diagnosis. Any suggestions to continuing to preserve the liver and promoting regeneration will be grateful.

I would gratefully appreciate you forwarding this email to anyone has any sources that may be familiar with this type of case or know of anyone with professional interest in liver disease. I feel certain that there are internists that specialize in liver care and disease but I have no way of knowing who they are.

Thanks and love,

Compliments to CLDF

January 19, 2009 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog

With your site, you know that Reiley’s passing is at least not in
vain, and I am sure she would be proud of what you are doing for
others. I think when it comes to complication from liver disease many
Veterinarian don’t go far enough and that owners need to educate
themselves especially about diet/nutrition. So the more access to
information like this list and yours the better.

I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. We are used to
offering each other a strong shoulder to cry on, but you seem to be
beyond that, turning your grief to action on behalf of others who
might find themselves in your shoes. Congratulations on your
attractive site, and thank you from the “mom” of a liver dog.

I scanned the foundation’s web site, and it looks like a great resource. I only wish that this information was available when Bear was first diagnosed – as you probably found out, there wasn’t a great deal of easily accessible, comprehensive info out there!

Your website is wonderful. There is a lot of really good information. Thank you for all that you are doing for the pups.