Kendrick and Angie want to apologize for the delay in writing part 3, they’ve been a little busy with everyday things. Kendrick is acting more and more like a puppy which requires regular supervision when said puppy is feeling good!
The weekend prior to Kendrick’s scheduled skin biopsy, he had a flare up. His nose, hind legs and chest broke out in red sores. He hurt enough that he was no longer jumping in the chairs to sleep, and didn’t want to take the 3 steps to go outside. It was around this time that my internet searching finally led me to the condition of exfoliative cutaneous lupus erythematosus (ECLE for short). I cried as I read the symptoms, treatment, and life expectancy of those afflicted with the condition. The pictures of the dogs with this condition were so like Kendrick I was really struggling to not jump to conclusions.
Kendrick went to the vet on Tuesday 2/23/2016 for the skin biopsy. They took 3 samples, and sent them off for testing. We went home to wait, hoping for an answer by the end of the week. On Friday, the vet had not yet received a report, and called the lab. He spoke with the technician doing the testing, who confirmed we were dealing with some sort of auto-immune condition the type testing was not yet finished. We decided to go ahead and start a steroid treatment that Friday while awaiting the final results. Please remember that we couldn’t start those while he had the secondary skin infection, and we did not want to impact the biopsy results, so had to wait.
The transformation in Kendrick was amazing. By Sunday he was jumping in the chair again, far more alert in his surroundings, and perky. He pranced when he got excited, started jumping over small obstacles (dogs, toys, a book) that were on the floor in the house. He no longer protected himself from being bumped by the resident dogs when they played.
We got the formal diagnosis on Thursday March 3rd. By Friday 3/4/2016 most of the sores had healed, and only a few scabs remained. The next week was a slow progression of his personality emerging. He does actually play a little fetch. He pounces when he gets near the ball, and enjoys chasing the resident dogs up and down the hallway even if he doesn’t get the ball. Kendrick loves all his squeaker toys: balls, stuffed animals, Kongs – doesn’t matter, he likes them all. We only get those out when his foster brother is not around to protect them from being 5 minute toys.
Tuesday 3/8/2016 Kendrick braved the stairs to the basement for the first time at our house. My office is in the basement, so prior to this he stayed upstairs on furniture or dog beds with his foster siblings while I worked. Once he came down that first time, there was no stopping him. He now runs up and down the stairs, follows me to my office multiple times a day. Kendrick has taken over the dog bed in the corner of my office while I work. Sometime this week he started to show puppy behaviors such as getting in the trash, stealing socks from the laundry, and checking out the food on the kitchen counters. We also saw his tail wag for the first time this week. Previously his tail was up when walking or just hanging out, he tucked it when he was scared or getting ointment he didn’t want. This was the first real tail wag because he was happy!
Friday night, 3/11/2016 we went to the cabin for the weekend. On Saturday we took our first walk long walk in the trees on a leash. Sunday we took another walk, this time without a leash and Kendrick did great! He found interesting scents to follow and enjoyed exploring that evening. The nice weather combined with his improved condition allowed him to really be outside for a change. ECLE is a light sensitive condition, Kendrick cannot be allowed to stand in the sun to warm himself and will need to learn what shade is before we can be outside for extended periods of time. The trees give us shelter from the wind and sun which makes it an ideal place to walk.
Kendrick no longer shows signs of pain when he lies down. He gets up quickly and for every little sound to go explore what it was. He barks at the doorbell, strangers, and when excited. He crawls in the chair with me when I’m reading, curls up and cuddles now. So much progress from his behavior when he arrived in January!
We have cut his steroid dosage down twice already, and will do so again next week. Our hope is to get off them entirely, only time will tell. In the mean time I am trying to learn everything I can about his condition, how to catch the signs of a flare up before he breaks out. What works best on his skin to minimize his flaky patches and itching. I was introduced to a wonderful lady who has a 9 year old dog with the same condition. She has shared a wealth of knowledge in her treatment experience.
We currently use coconut oil on his bare patches to moisturize the skin. We’ve stopped the bathing and will be doing so only under extreme conditions now. We are testing various topical ointments on the few remaining hot spots (skin sores) in hopes of finding some that work well to quickly reduce the size and severity of a breakout. With his improved condition come the requirement for supervision, and I am absolutely thrilled!
Kendrick & Angie