Dear Family, Friends, and Animal Lovers,
Oliver has been a part of our lives for six and a half years. Many of you have been touched by his beauty and love, while some of you may have simple felt the depthless and unconditional love an animal brings into our lives. I never thought I would start a gofundme account, though I have contributed to several and am praying for good karmic return now.
On 9/19/2017 we noticed Oliver's belly was a bit distended (swollen). His Dad takes him on nightly runs and consulted with me because he knew something was off when Oli only ran lethargically and wanted to come home. We feed him a fully-raw, extremely healthy diet, which he gladly devoured that day and showed no other symptoms. On 9/20 after taking our son to school, Ryan asked me again if I thought Oliver was OK. I said his belly was still swollen and we should get him checked out. We dropped everything and took him to his wonderful vet at Lifetime Pet Wellness. Oliver had been seen there just a few months earlier and the year prior and had always been in "impeccable health" and "perfect shape". He was x-rayed quickly to determine if he had bloat, and we were thankful when were heard he was clear of it. What we were not expecting was what followed.
His doctor told us Oliver's spleen and liver were very enlarged and that he had fluid in his abdominal cavity. He was honest and said he thought it would be best to have an internal medicine vet do an ultrasound. He scheduled us into the nearest (and perhaps best) animal hospital in Columbus, MedVet, at 2pm. We rushed over to the hospital and waited to have Oliver seen.
For those of you who do not know, Oliver has not spent nights away from family in his 6 and half years of life. He has travelled with me almost everywhere I went. If he did not come, then either his Dad or an Uncle was home with him. He has never been boarded, nor has he been hospitalized. When the vet technician took him from my presence for exams and held him in back of the hospital, I waited all day. They gave me updates on how wonderfully behaved he was and how much of a delight he was to be around. I explained that Oliver is highly trained as a service animal and that his exterior composure and demeanor should not be perceived as content. He is just an extremely well-behaved dog. They said, "that would explain it." After several hours of poking and prodding, they sat me down to explain that Oliver had a splenic mass >5 x 9 cm. They suggested a splenectomy (full removal of the organ) based on the size of the tumor and the potential to live a healthy life without a spleen. As much as I am against surgery, I agreed to proceed with the surgery the following day.
I consulted with the surgeon regarding the liver and fluid in his abdomen. Dr. Dudley said he was not sure why that was occurring, but he would biopsy Oli's liver and inspect for fluid source while performing the splenectomy. I took Oliver home that night to hug and hold and decide if this was the best course of action. Dr. Dudley explained that splenic tumors can be either benign or malignant, and that if it was hemangiosarcoma, Oliver would be given 3-6 months to live.
They brought my baby back to me and his eyes and tail lit up, as did my heart. We headed straight home at 7pm to get some rest before the long day ahead. We decided as a family to go through with the surgery and pray it is benign. On 9/21 I woke up our 4 year old to take Oliver to MedVet for his procedure. They explained that he would not be coming home until Friday at the soonest (as an aside, that is today and I am counting the hours until Dr. Dudley calls me). We cried as we watched Oliver walk off obediently with Melissa (Dr. Dudley's intake specialist).
At 12:30 they let me know Oliver was going in for surgery. I laid out my positive intentions and waited until they called back at 2:30. Dr. Dudley explained that Oliver was still groggy from anesthesia and pain meds, but he was doing OK. He removed the spleen and said the mass had slightly ruptured, but pathology would be able to tell us more about the nature of the growth in 5 days. However, he explained that Oliver's spleen had become bound to his abdominal wall. He said that Oliver's organs in his abdminal cavity had become bound up through adhesions of scar-like tissue, which he believed to be a sign that whatever was in his spleen may have spread. I probed for more details about the tissue he described and he briefly said that one explanation that it occurs is not relevant to Oli because it is mainly present in Gulf states (we currently live in Columbus, OH). He said it was called pythiosis and was an acute fungal-like disease contracted near swamp waters.
I quickly explained that we lived in Florida for many years, and Oliver hiked in the Everglades regularly and drank from water sources indescriminately. As a Black Labrador, he gets hot quickly and loves to take a dip in water to cool off. Dr. Dudley said he doubted that it was pythiosis because the disease is very acute(fatal in a matter of months). However, once we explained we were recently in FL, it became more likely. If you would like to research more about the disease, go to, http://pythium.pavlab.com/ or
Apparently the disease is so aggressive it is highly fatal in most canine cases. Oliver is being tested for pythiosis, but we will not have results immediately. In cases where the disease has been contracted greater than two months prior, most equine, canine, and felines do not survive. We have hope. IF Oliver contracted pythiosis, we know it was from our most recent trip to visit family in Florida on 8/21. That means he would only have had it in his system for 1 month and the prognosis would be better. Time is of the essence and we are working as diligently as we can to address these issues. Even with all of this going on, Oliver's bloodwork came back "remarkable" and only his white cell count was elevated (justifiably so). Even his liver enzymes were perfectly in range.
He is such an amazing friend, family member, and person. I found Oliver at 5 weeks of age and consider him my first born child. I know many said those feelings would change when I had my human son, but they did not. Oliver is still #1 in my heart. I love him more today than I have ever loved anyone. I love Orion (our human child) just as much, but not more than Oli. He is not just a dog, he is also my service animal and has helped me deal with more than I could have ever imagined. We (and especially Oliver) welcome any help you can offer, even if it is in prayer form.
Thelma, Ryan, Oliver, and Orion
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