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Improvement Report: Lilly’s Recovery from Adverse Vaccine Reaction

Last weekend, Lilly got her 3rd cycle of cytarabine injections (4 sub-q injections over 2 days). She handles it like a champ. Honestly, other than the fact that everything about her reeks of medications, you’d never know she was getting pretty aggressive treatment for rabies vaccine-induced meningoencephalomyelitis (brain inflammation). This week, we saw some improvements.

For the first time in MONTHS:

  • Lilly tried to run fast. Granted, her front legs gave out, and she face-planted a couple times, but she tried to sprint with Ginko across our upper pasture.
  • Lilly tried to jump on our bed. Again, she bounced off the side of it. Her feet slipped when she landed, and she crashed flat on her side, but she did try. She hasn’t tried since.
  • Lilly played a few throws of real fetch. Real ball. Real distance. Jumping catches. Only 2-3 throws, but still.
  • Lilly bunny-hopped up the stairs. I’ll try to get video soon, but her normal climbing process is a slow, deliberate slog up stairs. But, this week, she almost bounded up the stairs, back feet following front feet, for a few strides.

We’re working hard to balance her safety with letting her try to do things. Thankfully, Lilly is a very tough girl. She is sturdy stock. Her stamina is still very low, but she seems happy and engaged most of the time.

To see her play, or at least try to play, is great.

Wednesday night, Lilly and Ginko played tug with the plush monkey the neurology team gave her when she was released from the hospital in August, after her major relapse.

They tugged until the legs came off.

best dog blog, champion of my heart, close-up photo of border collie face

Chemo Schmeemo. I feel great!

Thursday morning, to encourage Lilly to run, I played fetch with Ginko. He fetches. Lilly chases HIM. On their first race down the hill, Lilly fell and slid across the grass on her side. She hopped right up. No harm. No foul. So, I try not to worry too much.

Because Ginko is old (12 1/2) with bad knees, we cannot do that game a lot, but we can get a few throws / chases in each day … without him hurting too much later.

And, frankly, he is thrilled to play. I’m sure he wishes Lilly wasn’t so bossy, but he does LOVE when she engages with him.

So, that’s our good news. Just in time for the CELEBRATION of Lilly’s 8th Gotcha Day!

Yep. Eight years ago tomorrow (Oct 20), we adopted Lilly. In so many ways it feels like forever ago and yesterday at the same time.


Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I’m a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles … and, of course, all things pet related.

I don’t just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Susan T in AZ - October 21, 2012

I’m so happy for you and Lilly that she’s doing well! She is all heart! Love that sweet face. Congratulations on eight wonderful years together!
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Edie - October 21, 2012

Belated happy gotcha day, Lilly. So nice to hear you’re making progress in your improvement — the best present for the one who “gotcha.”
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Susan russell - October 20, 2012

Roxanne, I met you today at the velo swap but we neglected to share names. Your Lilly is beautiful and has life in her eyes. Your story touches my heart deeply. I will send white light daily to sweet Lilly as well as you and your husband. I share your deep love for animals and understand the dire need to have them in your daily life. Peace and love to your angel Lilly. It was awesome to meet you. Hope you found some good stuff today!

    Roxanne Hawn - October 21, 2012

    Thanks so much, Susan, for stopping by the blog. It was so nice to meet you today at the Velo Swap. I hope you had a good time at the event. Tom was like a KID on xmas. He found all sorts of things he needs to build up his new road bike frame. We appreciate all good mojo. Things are going well right now, so we’re thankful for that … and trying NOT to project into the future too much. All of us here send our best treatment / recovery wishes to you as well. Hope you had a nice trip home. Take care! ~ Roxanne

KB - October 20, 2012

I’m so happy to hear of the good signs that you are seeing, and the happiness that Lilly exudes. I know that the battle continues but I’m glad that you’re both finding some happiness during it.

Jana Rade - October 19, 2012

So good to hear good news and see improvement! Yes, balancing safety and letting them do things is quite difficult. How much should I let her do? How much should I restrict? I feel it’s important to keep letting them do a bit more all the time, so they can work their bodies, brains, coordination, and hope that it won’t result in an injury.

Lilly sounds like a rubber dog, that’s a good thing.

Jasmine used to love tug with a cow plush toy, the first thing to come off was always the head. In fact, every time we got a new specimen (because the old one just didn’t have enough material on it to sow it back together) I would “re-sow” the head before even playing with it.

Happy Gotcha Day, Lilly
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JoAnn - October 19, 2012

Wow! It was so great to read of Lilly’s progress! It definitely sounds like she is enjoying life a little more… and that puts a smile on my face and in my heart. You are all (including Ginko) doing a great job in her recovery!
Have a Happy 8th Gotcha Day Celebration tomorrow, Lilly, Roxanne & Tom!! (Love it, I’ll have to remember that phrase)
P.S. Love the picture of Lilly, she looks happy

rottrover - October 19, 2012

What great news! Great to see you smiling, Lilly. Happy Gotcha Day!!

-Bart and Ruby
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aTXtumbleweed - October 19, 2012

Happy Gotcha day Lilly and Roxanne! (Love that phrase) Glad to read that Lilly is still improving! Your doing a great job in her recovery!!

Hilary - October 19, 2012

What a thrill to read of Lilly’s progress! It seems that she is enjoying life a little more… that puts a big smile on my face and in my heart. And happy Gotcha Day, Roxanne and Tom!

Linda Martin - October 19, 2012

Wow! This is some great news! Happy Gotcha Day, Lilly! Hope it’s a good one!
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Cathy - October 19, 2012

Happy Gotcha Day, Lilly (and Roxanne)! I’m thrilled to hear some good news about Lilly’s progress, and that picture of her is absolutely adorable!
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Angela Cranson - October 19, 2012

Thats wonderful to hear about Lilly, and a very Happy Gotcha Day to dear Lilly. Bless her! <3 🙂

Sam - October 19, 2012

Happy Gotcha Day, sweet Lilly. It seems Ginko is just the right companion for her!

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