written by Connie Versagi, February 2008

On a Friday night a call came in, “My friend’s neighbor has an Airedale and she made an appointment to put him down tomorrow, can you help?”  ATRA called back immediately and started arranging to bring Duke into Rescue.

A vet report accompanied Duke, that noted a possible abscessed tooth.  Duke’s gum above his canine was found to be torn and the nerves exposed.  The tooth was removed and he seemed much happier.  Little did anyone know, it was the beginning signs of what was really happening to this brave boy.

Due to a lack of foster homes Duke spent several months living at a kennel.  Then a wonderful foster home came forward and offered to take him.  This foster home was about to go on the ride of their and Duke’s life.

The first sign of a problem came when Duke’s foster mom noticed blood in his stool, and then a couple days later, he began bleeding from his mouth.  Somehow Duke had gotten lacerations in his mouth and he had giardia.  Antibiotics were given, he was sent home.

Then Duke began dehydrating as it was too painful to eat or drink.  His mouth was just too sore. His foster mom was taking him in the morning to be put on IV fluids at the vet, then picking him up in the evening and taking him to an emergency facility for nighttime IVs and monitoring.  Biopsies were ordered of his mouth cysts.  His lesions were spreading, he was now bleeding from under his tongue and his nose.

At first the tests didn’t come up with anything other than whatever was bothering Duke was pretty rare.  Everyone was scratching their head at this point.  It was shortly after that, that a diagnosis was finally made; Immune Mediated Vasculitis.  It was described as an immune system gone wrong.  Treatment was begun with Prednisone to suppress his immune system.  Fluid was pooling in his front legs, which were badly swollen.

Both of his front legs then developed open sores due to his steroid therapy.  His immune system was so suppressed it couldn’t fight off infection, so the ulcerative lesions were not healing.  Special wet-to-dry bandages were placed on Duke’s forelegs to help with the healing.  These had to be changed daily by the veterinarian in sterile conditions. 

As if all of this was not enough, Duke had diarrhea and was losing a lot of weight and muscle tone.  His heart and lungs were good though, and he was alert and responsive and just a wonderful boy who really wanted to get well.  He was taking all this treatment in stride.  Duke was at least holding his own, eating a bland diet, no more blood in his stool or mouth, still going for walks.  Those stubborn leg sores were not healing well though.

Unfortunately now Duke is fighting kidney damage done by the vasculitis.  The protein levels in his urine are very high and his latest diagnosis, though Duke looks like he’s doing better is glomerulonephritis.  Now Duke is being checked for other causes of his protein loss, so it can be stopped; tic borne disease or even diabetes.  Duke still wants to play ball and is just a joy to be around.  He really doesn’t understand why all the trips to the vet, he just wants to get on with being an Airedale.

Duke’s foster mom continues to take amazing care of him and it shows in his spirit.   Duke is far from giving up, and so is ATRA.  With your donations, ATRA continues to make sure Duke gets the very best care.  God bless those who care for those who cannot care for themselves.  God bless the ATRA supporters.  Watch for updates to Duke’s story.  


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