Liver Shunt Stories
Here we have placed stories of dogs with liver shunts.
Honey's Special Story
Photo taken in 2005
Honey Shumsky is a perfect example of the longetivity of life.....she is still going strong at 8 years of age.....she lives happily with Terri's sister and brother in law in California...she is on a special diet and no one would ever know this little girl was so sick.....
Call it The Incredible Journey with a twist. This time, a daring trio head across the country not to find home, but to undergo a rare surgery at the UT Veterinary Hospital. John and Terri Shumsky, a retired couple from Paso Robles, California, brought Honey, their one-year-old Yorkshire terrier, to Knoxville for surgical repair of a liver shunt. Their trip included three airplane connections and a great deal of effort. Both the Shumsky’s have their own serious health issues, but they braved the trip for Honey. “If you can go to the best place and have the surgery, you do what you have to do,” says John Shumsky.
Dr. Karen Tobias, associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, has trained veterinary surgeons throughout the country on a technique for repairing shunts, abnormal blood vessels that form a bypass around the liver. Blood containing toxins that are normally filtered and cleansed by the liver is shunted to the heart and brain, often resulting in death. Yorkshire terriers are reported to have a higher than normal incidence of liver shunts.
“I’m investigating the pedigrees of Yorkshire terriers, since the odds of this breed developing shunts are 1,225 times greater than all other breeds combined,” says Tobias.
Shunts may be repaired with traditional surgical approaches, but Tobias uses a technique developed at UT that implants a tiny C-shaped piece of metal around the shunt, causing it to shut down slowly over several weeks. Dogs receiving this kind of care generally have fewer postoperative complications, says Tobias.
“Most dogs are taken to surgery to have the shunt closed. Because the liver has not developed properly, many dogs cannot tolerate rapid closure of the shunt,” she says.
“The constrictor ring will slowly close down over four to five weeks, allowing the liver to get used to its new blood supply. Survival rates after ameroid constrictor placement are about 95 percent. Most dogs are completely normal within three months.”
The Shumskys learned about Tobias indirectly through YTNR, a Yorkie organization. Terri Shumsky had been a Yorkshire breeder and dog-show judge for many years. They’ve established a fund to help with treatment of this condition in Yorkshire terriers and other small breeds. For more information, see our other links on our site.
All For Honey
MoreStory about John and Terri Shumsky and Honey!
Click above to read the article in the Tennessee Alumnus Magazine.
Wrigley's Special Story
It was about two and a half years ago that I went searching online for help in caring for my dog Wrigley. He was diagnosed with a liver shunt and was unable to be cured through surgery.
Today, I lost Wrigley to complications due to his condition. I don't know how to cope with the loss right now, but I guess I needed the support of all of you one last time as I grieve the lost of the best puppy I have ever had. Even in his weakened state today, he wanted to stand up and give me one last sign he was my friend, few kisses.
I don't know why God gives us such blessings and then allows them to be taken away. I do know that I am a better human being for knowing Wrigley. I miss him SOOOOO much, but I know that I will see him again. He will not be sick or tired or worn down by his illness, but as joyful as a puppy should be.
Anyway, I am sorry to give bad news to the group. It seems to be the nature of this disease that we have to endure these stories. In my case, Wrigley taught me that you can endure such things and still have a life filled with joy and love.
I will keep you all in my prayers. God bless.
Ollie's Special Story
I thought I would share the fantastic news that my little foster baby, Ollie, has had his bile acids retested and they came back better than normal. His pre was 2.6 and post was 10.2. Ollie is a little guy that came to me from California just after Christmas. He was 7 months old, weighed about 5 lbs and would have some awful bouts of vomiting. He had his surgery at UT on January 5th and within a week became the lively happy puppy that he was supposed to be. He now weighs 9 lbs and is healthiest happiest little guy anyone could ask for.
Ollie loves to wrestle with my little Dixie who is also a liver shunt survivor. They both have a new lease on life and show it in everything they do.
Dixie's Special Story
She just had surgery and is doing well. Her Story below:
Dixie was born on February 28, 2006 after a couple of friends decided to mate their Yorkies. She is an only child and from all appearances a very happy healthy little baby. When she was old enough she was adopted out. Not long after going to her new home Dixie started having seizures and was returned. Dixie had been treated with Advantage not long before the seizures started and they thought that she was having an allergic reaction. She was taken to the vet who decided to do a Bile Acid test. The results came back with her premeal level at 78.6 and the post meal 115.7. Dixie was put on Lactulose and L/D Science Diet and the family told that she would require surgery to correct the problem. On June 22, 2006 her then mom made the decision to surrender her to YTNR as she didn't have the time required to look after a sick little one.
I wouldn't have known there was anything wrong with Dixie as she was such a happy, energetic little puppy. Dixie was admitted to UT on June 29th for tests which confirmed the shunt and her surgery was done the next day. Dixie had only one shunt and did very well in surgery. I got to take her home the next day. Dixie bounced right back from the surgery. It's only been a little over a week and she is right back to being a happy, mischievous little baby bouncing around everyone's feet and chasing her foster brother and sisters around the house.
Heartfelt thanks go out to everyone that looked out after this little baby and especially to the caring staff at UT for her excellent care.
Skyler's Special Story
Skyler's family could not meet his mounting medical costs and has given Skyler to YTNR. He was flown to Nashville and rushed to the veterinary hospital at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville (UTK) where Dr. Tobias and her staff took charge of Skyler’s medical conditions. He had a scintography test done and it revealed he did have a liver shunt. Skyler had surgery to correct the liver shunt and had a rough recovery. Skyler was 5 months old and weighed only 1.5 pounds. He was in the hospital for almost a week before he could come back to his foster home near Nashville. Once back from his surgery, Skyler had a difficult time keeping any food down and was still weak. After several days and not improving, Skyler was rushed back to UTK and placed in intensive care. Dr. Tobias and her wonderful staff took round the clock care of Skyler and determined that he had a stress ulcer and a bacterial infection. They treated the infection with medication and he is on a very bland and low protein diet to help his ulcer heal. A feeding tube was placed in him so that he could be tube fed while his ulcer healed. Skyler is currently being fed via the tube, but is also allowed to try to eat by himself before using the tube. There are good days and there are bad days, but generally Skyler is slowly, very slowly improving day by day. He has started to eat by himself, but not enough to sustain him, so the feeding tube is used to supplement his daily food intake. Only through generous donations to the Liver Shunt Fund has made miracles out of Skyler and countless other dogs that have been helped by the Liver Shunt fund. Please keep Skyler in your prayers and we will continue to give updates as he progresses.
Zoe's Special Story
Tank's Special Story
Tank a male Yorkshire Terrier 14 weeks old and weighing just over one 1 lb. was posted on a puppy web site. He came into our lives on March 1, 2004. I traveled with a friend all the way from Milwaukee, WI to St. Louis, MO to pick him up. It was told to me by the breeder on the phone that once I arrived in St. Louis to call her for the directions to her home. When I arrived I had asked for her address and was told she would come to me. I asked that she brings both babies she had. She informed me then that she only had the one left (TANK). When she arrived to my hotel the poor baby was scared and shaking. He had hair missing from the side of his head and legs; he was also covered in puke. It wasn't long after I sat with this woman that I realized she is what you call a puppy mill. Tank being the first dog I have ever owned as an adult I was never really educated on the facts about puppy mills. I really feel though even if I did know prior to, I still would have given her the money for him and ran for our lives. And that’s what we did. We started our lives together that day and can't stand to be without one another for long periods of time.
It wasn't long after I brought him home that I new something was wrong. After we brought him to the vet for his shots and for the worms that he had brought home with him. I kept telling my vet that he had been doing strange things and that I thought something was wrong with his eye site. He checked him over time after time and still said Tank was fine. As months went on Tanks symptoms got worse: head pressing, falling over, blind spells, excessive salivating, and even seizers. It wasn't until I brought Tank back to this vet for yet another seizer that he had given us something for him. I believe that some of you may already know what happens to a dog with a liver shunt when you give him Phenobarbital. It made his symptoms worse, after that first night of giving him the medication I phoned the vet that very next morning. They told me at that time to give him a smaller dose. Our second night was not any better his symptoms where so severe. I cried just thinking how he must be feeling through all this. I told my self that if this is how his life would have to be that I would not be selfish. How could I let him suffer, I just wouldn't! So again I phoned the vets office and was told at that time by a woman I knew who worked their that I should take him for a second opinion. She also gave me the name of the vet she took her dog. I placed the call to the new vet that day and was seen the next day by Dr. Work of Greenfield Veterinary Clinic in Milwaukee, WI. Within minutes of Tanks exam he explained that Tank showed text book signs of a liver shunt and what a liver shunt was. We had to do blood work, something the last vet never suggested Tank have. After a complete blood panel I was told that I had a liver shunt baby. Tanks bile acids where 294.6 this was not going to be easy.
Dr. Work explained that I had options but none where hopeful. He said that if Tank had the surgery there was less then a 50% chance he would survive. I was beside myself and later that next day I posted a message on a web message board. I needed to know if their wear anything more I could do.
That same day I received two very special e-mails and these women would soon become my main support through the road ahead.
I was ecstatic to hear that we could apply for Tanks surgery to be funded. I knew this would be the only way he would get better. There was just no way I personally could have afforded surgery on my own. I am a single mom with one wonderful daughter 8 and have been raising my 17 year old sister since she was 12. It seemed as though time stood still well we waited to hear about funding. Then the news came we were funded and on our way to UT.
Arriving in TN we were fortunate to be able to stay with and get to know yet another amazing woman. Ruth Ann Shultz and Husband Doyle have opened their hearts and home to Liver Shunt babies and their families for sometime now.
I brought Tank to the University of UT on March 31, 2005 and handed him over to Dr. Tobias. I was worried but I knew that if Tank had a chance his best odds where hear with Dr. Tobias and her wonderful staff. Tank survived surgery and was back in his mommy’s arms with in 3 days. It was yet another miracle performed by the good Dr. T and her colleagues.
I can't tell you all how wonderful it feels to wake up each day knowing that my Tankie will be ok. This whole experience has been one of a fairy tale story with highs and lows and eventually ending with a ride off into the sunset just “me and my Yorkie”.
Thank you everyone for what you have done for us! For this I am eternally grateful. Just want to name a few; YTNR/LIVERSHUNT FUND, Mary Elizabeth Dugmore, Sarah Hodson, Georgia Stampley & Family, Ruth Ann & Doyle Shultz and Lorraine Iervolino a very special THANK YOU to you all.
Dawn, Tank, Kaylind and Samantha
Vegas's Special Story
Vegas' symptoms I don't believe are too bad. According to one surgeon here in Miami, dogs with liver shunts usually have seizures. I am very lucky to say that Vegas has never had a seizure. His first emergency was about a month ago, he could barely move, could not hold his head up. Pretty much all he could move were his eyes. I took him to emergency where they thought he might be intoxicated or that he had a shunt (but he said most likely a liver shunt). He stayed overnight on an IV and i picked him up the next day. The emergency vet fell in love with him. The vet suggested i do a bile acid test. the results were Pre Meal Bile Acids 23.0 and Post Meal 77.2. They did ultrasound and there were no abnormal findings. A week later Vegas was disoriented and could barely move so I took him to emergency again (it was 2am) and the same vet told me that it had to be a shunt and i should do the bile acid test again. This time he sent me home with Lactulose. He was so wonderful he didn't charge me that time! emergency is $$$ :) So 11 days after his first bile acid he had another BA test.... this time the results were Pre Meal 35.6 and Post Meal 124.1 thats a big difference for 11 days. Vegas is now eating Hills L/D and Lactulose and Denosyl. He has been better since then. I am going to schedule an appt with Dr. Tobias now. I will keep everyone informed. Thank you so much.
Max's Special Story
Wee Willie's Special Story
Is the Bichon Frise the Right Dog for You?
What to Consider before Getting a Bichon Frise
Willie is a happy, vibrant little scamp! He's funny, he's playful and he is definitely Special Needs. Please read on ....
WILLIE'S HISTORY: In March of 2005, a call came in asking Bichon Rescue to take a sick little fellow. Given his outward symptoms, the vet who had seen him was strongly suspicious that he had a liver shunt. Within just hours, Bichon Rescue volunteers had team-transported that little guy to Tennessee, and I was handed a tiny, pathetically underweight sick little bichon. Intake day.
Knowing little Willie was on his way to Knoxville, we'd made an appointment for immediate blood panel and bile acid testing which would provide the needed information in diagnosis of liver shunt. Those tests confirmed that this precious little fluff was suffering the ravages of a liver shunt. But oh dear, he's so sick, can he survive such a very serious surgery?
A decision was made to put him under the loving care of a Bichon Rescue volunteer who had proven herself to be committed to bringing little waifs back to health. Over the next months, Willie's diet & medications were carefully administered and he gained enough weight and strength to undergo surgery on October 18, 2005 Surgical intake
Christmas 2005: Willie expressed thanks and blessings to all his supporters.
Successful surgery has left Willie in very good health. Recent blood panel shows normal levels and last months' Bile Acids were awesomely perfect!!! You probably heard all of us celebrating the results!!
Willies' foster Mom wanted so badly to adopt him and has kept him for the last year, but her living situation has changed greatly and is no longer a secure environment for Wee Willie. . . . so he's now looking for a permanent loving home.
Willie likes everyone, is trained to use a doggy door, loves to roam around his fenced yard, and is currently in Obedience School. He's cute and he's got attitude! Are you the right home for him?
Here are little Willie's surgical follow-up SPECIAL NEEDS:
Daily glucosamine chondroitin supplement to sustain my health bladder & joints(provided by Bichon Rescue)
Daily Teeth brushing Check 'em out
Daily Exercise for optimum health - I LOVE to go walkies!
Bi-weekly urine testing using strips (provided by Bichon Rescue)
Possible antibiotics from time to time (provided by Bichon Rescue)
Because of Willie's history, we are restricting his adoption to the Morristown - Knoxville, Tennessee area. If anything should happen over the years and he needs to come back into Bichon Rescue, we want him near his medical specialists at the Univ. of Tenn. College of Veterinary Medicine.
THANK YOU for your interest in this feisty little guy. He's fought hard to live, and is now enjoying each and every day of his live. And he has found a new forever home!
She is doing really well. We love her so much. Thanks for sending the food and toys with her. She loves to play.
Scarlett's Special Story
We got our 1st Yorkie, Rhett in October. We have enjoyed him so much we wanted to get him a playmate because he was so full of energy. We decided when we got another one we would name her Scarlett. It took us four years before we could afford the expense of purchasing another yorkie. We purchased her from a different breeder because the breeder we purchased Rhett from had stopped breeding. After saving enough money we purchased Scarlett in February of 2003. After he got over his jealousy, he discovered how much fun she is. They love to chase each other and play keep-a-way with each other with their rabbit hand puppet. We enjoy sitting in the living room and watching them run around the room chasing each other.
One day in August I was on the porch and Scarlett lost her balance and fell off, I think she hit head first on the ground; it’s about a two foot drop. A couple of days later she woke me up early one morning and she was slobbering really bad and acting very strange. I didn’t know what was wrong with her I thought she was going to walk her self to death. As soon as the vet opened I took her up there and explained she didn’t have an appointment but something was wrong with her. The secretary took one look at Scarlett with her mouth soaking wet with slobber and her eyes dazed she didn’t argue with me. She retrieved Scarlett’s file and took us to a room and started to ask me questions. One question she asked was “Has she had any trauma to her head” and I thought about her falling from the porch. She told me she could have brain damage from her fall. I was so worried I didn’t know what was going to happen to her. The secretary told me the vet wouldn’t be in for another hour for me to leave Scarlett with them and he would call me. So I left Scarlett there and went to work. About an hour and a half later I got a call from my vet and he me asked a few questions. He wanted to watch her for the remainder of the day. I went back to his office later that day. I wasn’t sure if she was going to be alive or not. He explained he didn’t think she had brain damage but wasn’t sure what was wrong with her and told me to keep an eye on her. It was only a week later when she woke me early one morning in the same condition. I took her back to the vet and again they kept her all day. I had several phone conversations with the vet. We decided to try steroids, so we did. After she slept for almost two days she was back to normal. I was so relieved I wrote a thank you note to the vet’s office for their concern and help with Scarlett. It was three weeks before she had another spell. I took her back to the vet again. I explained how she was drinking a lot of water, slobbering, pawing at her head, running into the wall, chewing on everything, vomiting, dazed out (like she was looking into outer space), constantly walking (I thought she was going to die from exhaustion) . He didn’t know what was wrong with her, so we started to do blood work. It was October when we started to do the blood work. On January 14th Scarlett’s birthday I got a call at work from the vet telling me Scarlett had a liver shunt. I was writing everything down he was telling me because I didn’t know what it was. Before the call ended he explained to me Scarlett was going to need surgery or she would die. I had tears streaming down my face, I didn’t want to lose her.
When I got home I went to the internet to find out as much as I could about this terrible liver shunt. I found livershunt.com and got a lot of information from it. I got back in touch with my vet to get the medication Scarlett would need. She did wonderful on her medication for nearly five months, when she started to have her spells again. I decided we would have to have her put to sleep. I even called the vets office to see how much it would cost. I told my husband what I had called and he said that we could not put her to sleep, we would have to find a way for her to have the necessary surgery. So, I went back to the web site to ask for help. I also read more information on what to feed her and changed her diet. She is scheduled to have surgery on July 29 at the University of Tennessee with Dr. Tobias Please pray for Scarlett. Thank you thank you thank you so much for your help.
I thought I would update you on Scarletts improvement. She is doing wonderful, she is so playful and loves to run all day. Today was a month since Scarlett had her surgery. I am so impressed by the improvement she has had. I am so thankful for finding the livershunt website. My prayers go to the babies who are still suffering from liver problems.
Booda's Special Story
Booda went everywhere with us, including a plane ride back to California for a visit. Booda hated to be home alone and would tear at his cage to get out. After a short vacation with a friend carrying for him, we decided Booda had to have a pal. After six months of looking at puppies, Booda chose Oso. Oso was a cute little black Yorkie.
The boys loved each other so much. Booda would clean Oso as Oso laid on his back in the bliss. Booda and Oso would chase each other round and round with the biggest smiles on their faces. Booda would love to sit in my lap or on my chest giving kisses without stopping. It as if he knew he didn't have long to live and wanted to make sure to tell me how much he loved me.
One day after running outside, Booda had some blood in his urine. I took him to the vet and they determined that he had a bladder stone. The vet suggested we give him food to try to reduce the stone. Over six months, we gave Booda only the special food with an occasional green bean. The stones did not go away and as we prepared to move to a new house, the blood became worse. We decided to have the surgery to remove the stones. After much worry, Booda came through the surgery with no problems. In fact, two days after the surgery he was running the fence barking at the neighbors (one of his favorite things to do).
A week later, the vet called back and said the lab work came back on the stones and was not what he had expected. He suggested Booda have additional blood work, even though Booda was doing so well and we thought everything was ok. The blood work came back with high liver enzymes. The vet said he did not know much about this and referred us to a specialist for possible liver shunt. I was in shock. What is a liver shunt? I began searching everything I could to find out what was going on with my little boy and how I could help him. I ran across the livershunt.com web site and information. As I read, I became in touch with information that even my vet did not have. I joined a chat group to read and discuss liver shunts with others like Booda and I. This web site and people were a life saver in a sea of confusion. I tried to find a vet to take Booda to with little luck.
In every spare minute between starting a new job, commuting three hours a day, finding a house then moving, I educated myself on liver shunts. Booda and Oso loved their new house and yard. Booda was the happiest and healthiest he has ever been.
Within a month of moving, Booda got a big red infection where his stitches from the bladder stone surgery. I took him to an emergency vet that I found. The vet was good and suggested he be on antibiotics and warm compresses. She said it was a reaction to the suture material. She also said if I got his paper work to her, he could be treated there for the liver shunt. She suggest Booda have an ultrasound to determine if he had a liver shunt. She said they had good luck with their ultrasounds.
We much concern, I had Booda go through the ultrasound. He came home that evening with a shaved belly and arm from the ultrasound. The vet said, yes they found one liver shunt and two additional bladder stones. She suggested he have the liver shunt surgery. They seemed very knowledgeable and said without the surgery; Booda would only live three years. Booda was only three years old so with much hesitation, I agreed to have the surgery.
As Diana and I dropped Booda off for his surgery the staff encouraged us that within 24 hours this would be all done and Booda would be on his way to a long life. Both Diana and I sadly said goodbye to Booda with the understanding that by the weekend he would be home and doing well.
The day, 6/29/04 seemed to drag on. He was to go into surgery at 11 am. The staff was to call me before he went in. By 1:15 pm, I could not stand it any more and called to check on him. They said they got busy, but he was going into surgery then. I waited and waited. At 5:45 pm, I called and they said they were just wrapping up and the surgeon would call. At 6:30 pm, Dr. Rischen called and said he was out of surgery and waking up. He said it was a long surgery and that they could not find any liver shunts. He also could not find any bladder stones. He said he did a liver biopsy and that it was probably MVD, but he was a surgeon and that was not his specialty.
At 8:30 pm, Dr. Nancy Taylor called and said Booda had died. She said these things just happened, as I screamed NO, NO, what happened. She told me that she would have to let me go and to call her with what I wanted to do with his remains. In that moment, my life stopped. My son, Booda was gone. A happy healthy little boy who flipped for green beans and loved his Moms and brother Oso so much.
I wish I could say there is a happy ending, but there is not one. Booda's family, me, Diana and Oso are left without his beautiful spirit. Booda you are missed more than words can say. I miss you flipping for green beans. I miss your warm little body next to me at night. I miss your little coos and noises you would make in the morning as you laid on your back for a massage. I miss you and Oso chasing one another into the yard. I miss you giving me a million kisses. I miss you barking at me when I got in the shower of left a door that you could not come along. I miss how you and Oso would play wrestle with your mouths and big teeth showing. I miss giving you "elevator rides" so you could sit on my lap.
You are my son and I will always love you. I pray you are being held close and tight by my mom, Sassy, Gremlin and Moosie. I pray that one day I can see you again. Until that day, you will always be in my heart.
Pitzel's Special Story
On November 30, 2004 Pitzel had surgery to remove a bladder stone. Based on the lab analysis of the stone our vet recommended a specific liver blood test.
The result of the test for bile acids profile (T220) was horrible:
The first result (12 hours no food) was 133
The second result 2 hours after food was 779
I asked Mom to send you lots of happy thoughts from me. Thank you for making her feel a lot better. She says yesterday''s liver shunt surgery went well. The doctor "fixed" my shunt but I don't remember much. Today I showed Mom how much I like my nurse ... she does everything for me and loves to hold me almost as much as Mom does. Mom says I'm looking pretty good. My nurses even put on my nightgown and are keeping my hair out of my eyes. I felt so good this morning that I kept barking at them when they put me back in my cage ... so much so that they had to sedate me. Mom says I need to restrain myself. I've been good ... I even ate a bit so I wouldn't sparkle. I was all tuckered out when she came to visit me. I'm still on a glucose IV but the doctor was able to lower the dosage and they are keeping it warm so I'll warm up. I let Mom see all my stitches ... I'd show you too if you were here to rub my belly. I'm real sore and letting everyone know it with little squeaking noises. Mom held me while I took a nap. The doctor says I might be able to go home tomorrow or Friday. Love Lexia
I have had Shadow on Hill's Science Diet Beef canned and Little bites since his L/S surgery at UT a year ago Oct. He seems to be doing great on his diet. Of course, we slip from time to time and he gets things no dog should, but all in all that is his main food. His treats consist mainly of the Science Diet Little Bites Dry food, carrots, celery and a little apple from time to time. He REALLY loves popcorn, fixed air popped , Not the store bought in the bags stuff.
I really appreciate all the tips I get in the emails. You are wonderful people. Your furbabies have trained you All well. (;D
Sherry and her Shadow