Afghan Hound Dogs Available for Adoption
Virgil, The Hippity Hoppity Boy
Virgil arrived at NEAHR's Home for Little Wanderers on March 1st at 8 months old. We arranged to take him into temporary medical foster care to help diagnose concerning and puzzling clinical symptoms he was exhibiting. His owner's husband had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke followed shortly thereafter by two forms of aggressive cancer, requiring daily chemo and frequent medical appointments. His owner had her hands full trying to take care of her husband and Virgil at the same time.
When he arrived, Virgil was having 2 seizures a day, the pads of his feet were bright red and raw and he was blind. He had gait & balance issues as well. The opthamologist in South Carolina felt his blindness was not optic, but rather neurologic. It was clear Virgil was blind, he was walking into walls and furniture. He circles to the left when he walks, he doesn't run, he HOPS!.
Unfortunately, the Covid pandemic essentially shut down the State of Massachusetts shortly after he arrived, so it took longer to diagnose him than we originally thought.
Our neurology appointment for March 31st at Tufts was cancelled and we later learned that they would not begin rescheduling until mid to end of July at the earliest.
Our vet started Virgil on seizure meds, gave him an allergy shot which immediately calmed his skin down. He was also diagnosed with Malabsorption disorder (Vitamin B12 insufficiency and EPI, which is pancreatic insufficiency). We now give him twice weekly B12 injections and pancreatic enzymes to help him digest and absorb his food. He was also started on a veterinary diet.
We brought Virgil to ASPCA Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston to see Dr. Jennifer Michaels on June 11th. We carefully planned for him to have an MRI but this was not a normal outpatient procedure for Virgil because his brain functions slower than a healthy dog. He had to be intubated with a breathing tube under the guidance of a Board certified anesthesiologist and he had to spend the night to be monitored coming out of anesthesia.
While we knew Virgil's symptoms were very concerning, we felt punched in the gut as the puzzle pieces started to come together. Virgil, who is now just 12 months old has the brain of a 15-16 year old dog. He has a rare degenerative brain disease. The neurologist said it would be a miracle if he sees his 3rd birthday. Fluid samples were sent to UPenn on June 15th and it is suspected that he has a type of Lysosomal Storage Disease, specifically mucopolysaccharidoses, a rare inherited disease for which there is no cure. The results won't help Virgil as there is no cure but we hope the information will help neurologists and other dogs in the future.
Virgil's neurologist, his owner and I agree it is best for Virgil to remain here with us for supportive/hospice care. Despite his blindness, he has learned both the home environment and the yard. He knows his routine and he is very comfortable here. We don't know how much time we have with Virgil, but every day is a gift. He is happy, he is HOPPY (see the video's in our FB group) and his tail never stops wagging.