We in rescue know that not all stories have a happy ending. It is not always about the destination, but the journey. For little Coco Nicole, her journey ended yesterday. But for her and all those impacted by her it was a delightful journey.
Her owners first thought she was pregnant, then thought she had a tumor. They took her to a local shelter to have her put to sleep. The shelter called us to see if we could help. This tiny girl with the cropped ears was in congestive heart failure. It is a condition she has lived with every day for the past 13 months. In spite of all our efforts and the vets she has seen, we never were able to get all the fluid off. Some days she looked like she was about to pop.
But her savior and chief champion was Taylor, a tech at Bright Star. She took Coco into her home and monitored every bite and every pill. She stayed in constant contact with her cardiologist. Taylor gave Coco the life she never had. Coco learned to run and play and to love. Coco loved Taylor’s young children and taught them how to crawl and how to climb on the couch!
Recent weeks have seen dramatic changes in her appearance and behavior. They were having to tap her belly and drain fluid more often. The medicine was no longer doing the job, though she was on maximum dosage. Tuesday they tapped her for the second time this month. Wednesday, she had a mild cardiac episode in the early afternoon at the clinic and Dr. Larsen called to let us know. Later she had another one that was more severe. She was beginning to drown in her own fluids. The staff did the only thing they could—they surrounded her in their loving arms and assisted her in crossing the Rainbow Bridge.
Thank you Taylor and Dr. Larsen for all you did to brighten Coco Nicole’s life.
I don’t feel very well… I feel like I am ready to pop! My parents thought I might be pregnant, but they were told it was a tumor. They took me to the shelter to have me put down. Down where? Anyway, the people at the shelter said, “Let’s call rescue and see if they will help.”
A nice man picked me up and took me to see Dr. Larsen. She says I have congestive heart failure, but she doesn’t know why yet. I will have to see another doctor for that.
As you can see, someone cropped my ears. I’m not quite sure why. I thought they were cute before. Right now, they are very infected and hurt. The vet staff also said I need to have some dental work to fix some nasty teeth.
I’m a small gal and weigh 36 pounds, and I think 10 of that is all this fluid in my belly. At only 2 years old, I hope they can fix these health issues and give me many more years of living. I want to have the life I always deserved!
Right now, we are just going to focus on my heart, which should make it easier for me to breathe. They started me on some special medicine that should help. Dr. Larsen stuck a needle in my belly and drained out a whole liter (about 2 pounds) of fluid. It hurts a little, but I already feel much better.
Please say a prayer for me to get better. And many thanks to those of you who are donating for my care. Because of you, I’ll be able to see the specialist and get the help I need. I will give you all kisses when I see you next.
7/29/20 Update: The rumors are true—Coco Nicole is as sweet as the come! But the news about her health is not as sweet. In fact, it’s not very good at all. Yet she still managed to kiss folks on her way in and out of the vet clinic.
Coco saw the cardiologist today for a very thorough exam and several tests. She has severe pulmonic stenosis and continues to be in congestive heart failure. They drained an additional liter (or 2 pounds) of fluid today. That makes at least 5 pounds drained off since Friday.
While her overall heart size is almost normal, the vessels just above and below the pulmonic valve are very thick and the valve opening is extremely small. This causes the right side to enlarge and thicken under pressure, while not enough blood gets to the left side and it becomes very small. The left side is the size of a 5 pound kitten—not a 30 pound Bulldog. Consequently, her blood pressure is also very low.
We will monitor her fluid buildup and drain off more if necessary. We doubled up on her diuretic dosage and added two additional medications to better manage her condition. She’ll go back for a followup on August 17.
Those of you who have followed our rescue program for a while have asked about how she compares to Merlin. Her medical diagnosis is the same. The only difference is that her condition seems to be more advanced and more like Merlin toward the end than his beginning in rescue.
Her prognosis is 3-18 months, just like Merlin. Perhaps she’ll be a warrior like he was… and instead give us two fun-filled years! We certainly hope so.
Please remember this sweet girl in your thoughts and prayers and in your donations toward her continued care.
8/2/20 Update: Foster girl Coco Nicole continues to improve and is slowly losing the extra fluid. Losing so much makes her look emaciated, but that is just something we’ll have to go through until we can get her out of congestive heart failure. Then we can focus more on slowly putting on the right kind of weight. In the meantime, she is enjoying life and all the attention she gets while hanging out at the vet clinic. She is such a sweet soul!
8/10/20 Update: What can we say about Coco Nicole? She is feeling a whole lot better! She is still staying with one of the techs at the clinic and goes to the clinic every day. She has become so active she wants to follow everyone out the door and escort them to their car. So they have to watch her closely.
They are beginning to see her playful side. Foster mom has a one-year old son. He will drop food off his tray to Coco who is patiently waiting to catch it. She will return the favor by going into big sister’s room and bringing back toys for him to play with. Foster mom thinks they have a special way of communicating and plotting their next prank.
Coco is also sporting a new harness and collar. Another foster bought the harness and leash and our friends Erika Wesson and Pippa from P Dawg Accessories made them and donated the matching collar. She looks beautiful.
She goes back to the cardiologist on the 17th. We think she is still in congestive heart failure and retaining fluid so they may tweak the meds a little. But we definitely know she is feeling so much better.
9/21/20 Update: Foster girl Coco Nicole had her visit with the cardiologist today and she has just a little fluid in her belly. Her fluid buildup was much better than it has been since she joined rescue. We recently increased her diuretic and it is helping. She’ll go back for another checkup on Oct. 22.
Coco continues to be the sweetest girl and gives everyone kisses. She then lets you reward her by giving belly rubs. She is another one of those special angels!
7/13/21 Update: Coco here. I bet you forgot about me. I have been having so much fun, I forgot to send in a report. I am still living with one of the vet techs and I hang out at the clinic during the day. I am also still in congestive heart failure and Dr. Larsen occasionally has to drain some fluid off my belly. But as you can see, that doesn’t slow me down.
Someone brought this cute little Hawaiian outfit to the clinic and I just had to model it for everyone. You can also see how much I love my foster mom and her new baby girl.