Main : Stories : Sisko
By Chantal Cormier

Sisko turned 5 years old on March 26, 2005. We still call him the miraculous dog.

You see, we never thought he would make it to three. Just a couple of weeks short of his thirdbirthday, we had given him up for dead. He was on the surgery table, and my vet (and good friend) was on the phone telling me that there was nothing she could do to save him. The damage to his urethra was just too extensive. She was crying as much as I was. She said she was so sorry and I know she really was. I told her I knew she had done all that she could. We are close friends and she does love this dog. Before she hung up she said she'd go back and give it one more shot. She just didn't want this wonderful soul to die.

That was on Wednesday, March 5, 2003. The day before Sisko had suffered a serious urinary blockage. My vet tried to pass a catheter hoping that if there were small stones they would be expelled that way, but to no avail. There was something in his urethra that did not feel like a stone that stopped the catheter from reaching the bladder. So at 9 pm the decision was made to proceed with a cystotomy to empty his bladder and get rid of the stones that were there.

The next morning Sisko could still not urinate and the only option left was to go back to surgery but this time to perform a urethrostomy. My vet had told me that it was a delicate intervention and that she would rather refer me to a specialist. But I live in the boonies. The drive to get to a specialist would take 9 hours . . . not to mention that financially I could not afford the time of work, etc., etc. So with a heavy heart I told her that a specialist was not an option.

That's how on the morning of March 5th, I went in to see him and said goodbye (just in case), then I helped put him up on the surgery table and left. And how, two hours into surgery, Linda finally called me with very bad news. A mass of tissue had formed around stones and grit in his urethra, almost 3 inches long, and could not be removed without damaging the urethra. That was causing the blockage. It also meant that she had no intact section of urethra to re-attach to the opening on his body for the urethrostomy! That's when we thought for sure that this was the end of the road for Sisko. I hung up the phone and called the clients I had scheduled for the afternoon, cancelling their appointments while crying and explaining that my dog had just died.

Over an hour after the initial call, Linda phoned again. She had not wanted to give up and had managed, somehow, to finish the urethrostomy. But it was not looking good and chances were very high that it was not going to hold.

She was right. Eventually the urethra did not stay attached and the opening gradually closed up. During those couple of months I cried I don't know how many times thinking all this would have been for nothing and Sisko was going to die soon. But it seems that during those couple of months the mass of tissue that had formed in his urethrae was reabsorbed. And when the opening finally closed up for good, Sisko had started to urinate through his penis again. It was touch and go for a long time. There was very little pressure and it took him forever to empty his bladder and he had to go out very very often during the day and night.

I watched him like a hawk and became obsessed with his peeing pattern. I learned to recognized any signs of what could turn out to be a blockage, or difficulty urinating. Armed with that knowledge I now have relaxed my watch. But I know stones are still forming in his bladder and that he could block today, tomorrow, next week, next month. . . I learned to live with that knowledge.

Sisko is not on any medication and I haven't changed his diet. He is fed raw and is doing great on it just like my other dogs. I do make sure that he drinks more than he probably needs, by adding water to his food and by creating new habits of drinking. I do this so he will need to urinate more often and to avoid his urine from becoming too concentrated. . . hoping that that will slow the formation of stones. I don't know if it helps but it makes me feel a bit better!

The day Sisko blocked and was operated on was not the first time he had a blockage. He had blocked in October of 2002 but that was dealt with by passing a catheter. It was on that occasion the the crystals in his urine were identified as cystine crystals. At the time neither my vet nor I knew much about cystine crystals or cystinuria. And talking to a friend I was reminded that he had also suffered a urinary tract infection when he was about 8 months old.

There's a lot to be said about living without knowing what tomorrow will bring. I sure have enjoyed every single minute of this dog being with me since his surgery!

Sisko probably thinks he HAS died and gone to heaven. I do spoil him a tiny bit . . . . I mean more than I did before, of course!

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