This is the story of Billy, a nine year old standard dachshund.
There are many reasons that Billy is considered a "special" dog. He is a valued member of his family and loved by all he meets.
But, Billy has medical issues that make him unique as well: serious skin allergies, intolerance to certain foods and medications, and inflammatory bowel disease.
We never actually know how Billy will react to any treatment plan.
Two years ago he treated Billy as an emergency. Since then he has remained committed to Billy and his family through all of the ups and downs of what has turned out to be an incredible journey.
Barbara is Billy's dedicated owner. As committed as Dr. Mitelman is to Billy's cause, they work together to ensure the best health decisions are made.
We would like to share this story with you.
What started out as a one-time visit to an emergency hospital has grown into a two-year search for answers.
And in the process, Billy has brought us together as friends and families.
The first visit:
Dr. Mitelman: It was a rainy holiday Monday in August, and even if it wasn't raining it might as well have been. Barbara, Billy's mom, (known in the twitter world as @iambillysmom), knew something was amiss with her wiener dog.
Billy, the dachshund, is a red male of large stock. He was seen at her holistic-minded vet for an ongoing skin condition just two days previously, and now favoured his right foreleg, whining, and chewing it.
Oral supplements had been prescribed, a poultice and bandage applied, and she was directed it be left there for several days.
Something wasn't right. Didn't walk right. Didn't smell right. Didn't feel right.
Billy whined and tugged at his increasingly soggy bandage.
Where to seek veterinary care on a holiday Monday? Emergency referral hospitals in Central Toronto were a possibility, but not a good option for Barbara. Resorting to familiar habits, she reached for the Yellow Pages, dusted it off, and looked for other veterinary emergency hospitals.
A worried Barbara called to announce her arrival and hurried in. She was welcomed by staff and promptly ushered into an examination room.
Enter the veterinarian, Dr. Eugene Alexeev.
Barbara shared the relevant history, and explained Billy was due to have his paw rechecked at their regular vet that week. "We just need the bandage replaced until our next appointment".
Dr. Eugene proceeded to remove the bandage. Billy was extremely agitated.
What Eugene found quite frankly shocked him. Third degree burns to the skin! Red flesh! Pus!
Eugene complied with the client's wishes, rinsed and dried the wound and applied the necessary dressing as requested.
"Please see your veterinarian tomorrow. I don't like how this looks. It is very infected," he said.
Barbara: When we saw the discharge seeping from Billy's bandage we knew he needed immediate medical attention. We had been taking Billy almost daily to our regular clinic for bandage changes, no one had warned us of this.
When Eugene removed the dressing we couldn't believe what we saw!
We hadn't actually seen it in about a week. The bandage changes had been done without us present.
How did such a small sore turn into this?
Dr. Mitelman: Dr. Alexeev said the first key was to stop the holistic medicine because it was not helping in this case. Dr. Alexeev's comment hit Barbara hard. How could this be true?
The proof was in the pudding. Or was it the green pus oozing from Billy's paw that helped her to her realization.
Barbara’s husband Malcolm went into their incumbent veterinary office for an appointment, but was told Billy couldn't be seen for two days. Billy's leg was worsening, so Barbara returned to Kingston Road Animal Hospital to see Dr. Alexeev for follow up and consultation.
Dr. Alexeev was scheduled for emergency shifts, so she was seen by Dr. Britteny Kyle, a new graduate.
Dr. Kyle proceeded to unravel the bandages, and frowned. She went to find one of the senior doctors.
"What was going on?" Barbara wondered.
Enter Drs. Samson and Mitelman, owners of the hospital.
To their astonished eyes, they were seeing a 3rd degree burn to nearly half of Billy's right foreleg!
Skin sloughed, and raw red flesh beneath. Dr. Mitelman left Dr. Samson to speak with Barbara and Malcolm.
Not knowing Billy's recent treatment history by the previous veterinarian, he asked Barbara bluntly, "What have you guys been doing?
What did he mean? Was he accusing Billy's owners of caregivers' neglect? “What do you mean us? We've done everything the other clinic told us to do".
Dr. Samson didn't beat around the bush.
The open flesh. The oozing septic wound. He's seen this before. It wasn't pretty.
"Look, if you don't treat this properly, he'll lose his leg. If this nasty infection has penetrated into the bloodstream, he'll die."
How did a small skin wound explode into such a catastrophe?
Dr. Samson called Dr. Mitelman to discuss treatment options with the family.
"I think I shocked them, you'll need to be more diplomatic than I was," Dr. Samson commented.
Barbara: We were faced with some difficult choices. Who would we trust? We couldn't take Billy back to the former clinic.
We had sought what we thought was proper care and look what happened.
But these were complete strangers.
When A Small Sore Turns Into A Catastrophe: Billy's Story (Part I)
Life-threatening Infection Resolves; All Is Good? Billy's Story (Part II)
What Is Going On With Billy's Skin? Billy's Story (Part III)
The Plot Thickens: Billy's Story (Part IV)
I've Never Seen That Before: Billy's Story (Part V)
Billy's Diagnosis Still Unknown: Billy's Story (Part VI)
Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (NCL)? Billy's Story (Part VII)
Time To Make A New Plan: Billy's Story (Part VIII)
Atopic Dermatitis? Billy's Story (Part IX)
It Is Not Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis But What Is It Then? Billy's Story (Part X)
My Dog Has A Gut Of Steel, Doesn't He? Billy's Story (Part XI)
Feeling As Though Running Out Of Options: Billy's Story (Part XII)
Fighting Fire With Fire Backfires: Billy's Story (Part XIII)
A Second Endoscopy: Billy's Story (Part (XIV)
Staying The Course: Billy's Story (Part XV)
Fewer And Fewer Solutions Left: Billy's Story (Part XVI)
When The Only Consistent Feature Is Inconsistency: Billy's Story (Part XVII)
What Is Behind The Fast-Growing Lipoma? Billy's Story (Part XVIII)
Back Into Surgery, Again: Billy's Story (Part XIX)
Removing The Masses: Billy's Story (Part XX)
The Biopsy Results: Billy's Story (Part XXI)
What Has Triggered This Reaction? Billy's Story (Part XXII)
The Return Of The Itchies: Billy's Story (Part XXIII)
An Illness Of Unknown Origin: Billy's Story (Part XXIV)
An Irregularity On Billy's Prostate: Billy's Story (Part XXV)
Billy Is Not Well
Tummy Trouble: Billy's Story (Part: XXVI)
Dental Emergency: Billy's Story (Part XVII)
The Crisis: Billy's Story (Part XXVIII)
On Even Keel? Billy's Story (Part XIX)
Where's The Beef? Let's Ask Billy