Sometimes the magic has to end. Merlin’s magic show has dropped the final curtain. Next Monday will be two years since I picked him up at the shelter. He has lived with me ever since. We drained 15 pounds of fluid off him the first week. It was quickly determined that he had severe pulmonic stenosis. He has seen a cardiologist every 3 months since and has been on four cardiac medications. His life expectancy was a few months.

He has been slowly going down for the past two months, but the change over the past 10 days has been more significant. I knew he was near the end last week when he didn’t want to eat much. On Saturday, I knew it was time to seriously consider helping end things when I had to carry him outside that morning to go potty. He was enjoying about two hours a day in 15-20 minute blocks. The rest of the time he was exhausted. He was even in a foul mood with his best bud, Sawyer. So today I took him to see Dr. Larsen and her staff one last time.

With tear-filled eyes, several of us gathered around him, hugging him while the shot was administered. We told him to look for Winchester, Dolly, Clyde, Frannie and so many more we have bidden farewell.

Dear Merlin,

I named you after the wizard/magician because I thought you needed all the magic you could get to survive. Little did I know you would be the one dispensing the magic! You have brought people together from all areas and all walks of life like none other. You have recruited people to not only volunteer for rescue, but to become heavily involved in many areas of our work. You have caused others who volunteered a little to make rescue a major part of their life. You caused hundreds of donors from around the world to donate so many things for your birthday that you could share with 60+ other dogs in rescue. I have seen people drive 100 miles to an event just to sit in the floor with you and cry. You became a surrogate for the dog they lost. You gave them closure by letting them embrace you and tell you what they could not tell their own pet. Your power to heal others and bring relief in the sorrow was truly magical.

These last two years have been magical to me, as your Pops. I have seen way too much disease and death in my life. But you taught me about persistence and not surrendering. You have inspired me and so many others through your tenacious zest for life. On those days when I knew you did not feel well, you reached down deep inside and summoned the strength so as to not disappoint your fans. When I was stressed the most, you were always there to provide a little comical relief.

You are one of the very special dogs with whom some people never have the opportunity to share life. I realize I did not choose you at the shelter that day. You chose me. We bonded in the most special ways. Your head in my lap and on my shoulder will never be forgotten.

So run free! Godspeed! I know you will be waiting at the Bridge. I look forward to that day.

I love you so much.

I picked up Merlin (this boy needed a magical name) at a local shelter this morning. He was found by a family and surrendered to the shelter. We think he is just over a year old. He was extremely bloated and the vet thinks it is a fluid buildup from his heart. He also has demodex and pyoderma. The only good news is that he is heartworm negative.

Dr. Larsen’s office is closed today, so we took him to one of our emergency vets. They have drained a fluid sample to examine the cells and determine the source of the fluid. They started him on Bravecto, gave him all his shots and started him on a diuretic to pull off as much fluid as safely as possible. They will observe him over the weekend and he will go to Dr. Larsen Monday morning. This little guy is just so sweet and wants nothing more than to snuggle and cuddle with you. Right now, what he needs from us is positive thoughts and prayers.

1/15/18 Update:  Merlin did well over the weekend and lost 4.5 pounds of fluid. We were able to X-Ry him and he still has large amounts of fluid. However his heart looks and sounds good as do his lungs. We will do a complete another blood, fecal and urine analysis. We will also set up a consult with an internist.

1/17/18 Update:  The good news is that he has lost 14 pounds since Saturday (6 today). They did more x-rays, an echocardiogram and some other stuff. He has severe pulmonic stenosis. The valve between the sides of his heart is way too small. The pressure going through the valve should be less than 10 and his is 133! Normal procedure would be to run a balloon in the valve and expand it. His is caused by a congenital issue, which also affects his aorta making this procedure more difficult. A&M can run a higher level test and see if it is possible in his case. He also has a class 5 out of 6 heart murmur because of this. The right chamber wall will continue to get thicker and harder and the left side will be just the opposite. He will be on 4 meds for the time being and goes back on Feb. 7 for a follow-up appointment. He loved everyone and everything he met today and they loved him back. The doctor gave him a 4-18 month life span. Dr. Larsen got all his lab work back today. He also has a bad UTI and giardiasis. We are still working on the demodex.

He goes back to Dr. Larsen tomorrow and will stay for a while so she can monitor the effect of the meds and to monitor his weight (daily weigh ins). She will consult further with Dr. Fields.

1/25/18 Update:  This little guy is so sweet and spreads joy everywhere he goes and with everyone he meets. He is like an angel sent to comfort us! Yet he continues to struggle so much with his health.

This week they drained another pound and a half of fluid from his abdomen. They also increased his diuretic dosage. Today his abdomen was swollen even more, but it was only one one side. See the picture of him from the back and you will see the right side is larger. His pulse in his rear leg on that side is also weaker.

The cardiologist wanted some blood work done today and his blood pressure taken. I have discovered that many clinics are not equipped to take a dog’s blood pressure. So I took him to a larger clinic 30 miles away today. They tried every leg for over 30 minutes and never could get a good reading. They said his pulse was too weak. Yet this little guy prances around the clinic like he owns the place. He does not seem to be in any pain and he is not in respiratory distress. I guess he has lived with the fluid buildup for so long it seems normal to him. But he does step a little higher after more fluid is drained.

We will continue to tweak his meds and dosage in consultation with the cardiologist. He will stay in the clinic over the weekend so they can monitor his fluid. He will come to my house Monday if all goes as planned. We will monitor his medications and a strict low-sodium diet. He will go to my vet twice a week for a weigh in so we can monitor his fluid. He goes back to the cardiologist on Feb. 7 unless there is a need to take him sooner. You will also see from one picture that he is ready for the big football game! Merlin just needs everyone’s prayers!

1/29/18 Update:  Merlin has escaped the clinic and moved in with his foster family. We stopped on the way for a little shopping. The belly swelling has gone down a little and he is maintaining his weight. He is actually beginning to put just a little meat on his bones. We bought him a Thundershirt today to see if that will give some compression around his middle and help with some of the swelling. As soon as we got home, he wanted to have a brief meeting with his foster brothers. He has his next meeting with the cardiologist on Feb. 7. He looks and acts so much better than he did even two weeks ago.

2/5/18 Update:  Merlin is doing great with his new foster brothers and sister. Each day he gains more energy and displays it by playing with them. He enjoys taking short walks with one of his foster brothers. Since we upped his diuretic dosage, his fluid buildup has ceased and his weight is holding constant. He loves sitting with foster pops and licking any face he can reach. He also has a very healthy appetite, so we have to closely monitor his food intake. He is on a low-sodium kibble and low-sodium treats.

On Wednesday he has his first follow-up visit with the cardiologist. Can’t wait for them to see the change in his appearance and energy level.

2/7/18 Update:  Little Merlin studied really hard and went to bed early last tonight. Today was the big test day and he passed with flying colors! His weighed it at 38.5 which is holding pretty steady. There was NO fluid buildup in his chest! His demodex is much improved. He will always have the heart murmur, but his heart is in regular rhythm. His inner heart pressure has dropped from 133 to 99mmHg. Unfortunately anything over 80 is considered severe. It should be less than 10 mmHg. But it is going in the right direction.

He does have a little belly swelling which is coming from an enlarged liver. To help with that, one of his medications (Atenolol) was increased in dosage. He goes back in two weeks for another follow-up. He will always be at risk of going back into congestive heart failure. His long term prognosis is still 4 to 18 months (+/-). But today he is great! He looks and acts great. He loves to run and play like a puppy. We will enjoy watching him play with his foster brothers and make the most of each day. And we will do whatever we can to give him as many of those days as possible.

2/22/18 Update:  Merlin the Magnificent had his scheduled visit with the cardiologist today. He was up early and excited to go. When we arrived, he worked the room and greeted everyone. One of the techs sat in the floor and played with him until they were ready for his tests. He soaks in the love everywhere he goes!

Today’s news was not as positive as we had hoped. His heart pressure is up almost as high as it was in the beginning. His liver is also slightly larger. There is not much more we can do medically, but continue with his medication and let the heart disease play itself out over the next weeks or months. His next appointment is in three months. But if he starts gaining weight or building up fluid, we will go back sooner. In the meantime he can continue his daily walks around the block. He can run and play with his foster brothers, but that has to be carefully monitored so he does not exert himself too much.

Many of you met Merlin for the first time Sunday at Cold Beer Company. He will be at Hollywood Feed this Saturday to share the love. Our goal is for him to experience as much love and give as much love as he can in whatever time he has left. Please hop on the Merlin train and join us Saturday.

3/20/18 Update:  Merlin continues to make progress. He has gained a little weight in muscle tone. He is now able to be more active. He loves to take our daily walk around the block and we are starting to add a little more distance. We have been working on His Bucket List. We went to Home Depot and met some great people and then went to Starbucks for a first ever Puppuccino. It was awesome!With the diuretics he is taking, potty training continues to be a big challenge. He loves the warmer weather and playing outside with his foster brothers. Check in and see how he does on his Bucket List Journey.

4/3/18 Update:  Merlin continues to do remarkably well. His weight is holding steady with no fluid buildup. He is built up his strength and muscle mass and is now walking over a quarter mile at a time. His potty train comes and goes. The peeing is the only problem. He doesn’t tell us when he needs to go outside, but we have picked up some subtle hints. But since he is on two diuretics, the boy goes a lot!

He really enjoyed his weekend sleepover with Sara and Johnny. It took him a couple of days to rest up. He was ready just in time for his Thursday evening party. I want to thank all those who came out to see him and show him some love. He had a blast! We even met Bentley (now Cash) a former foster of Deirdre’s. We are working on his next bucket list item. A photographer is Ft. Worth wants to take some pictures of him in bluebonnets. We hope to do that next Saturday. The list just keeps growing.
5/10/18 Update:  Magical Merlin continues to make the most out of life. He still thinks his purpose is to brighten lives wherever he goes, no matter how he feels. He recently had a photoshoot in a beautiful field full of bluebonnets. He also went to Waco for a state-wide rescue event and met a lot of people and dogs of every kind.
Foster pops has noticed some slight changes in him recently. When he exerts himself, he does not recover as quickly as he did before. A month ago, he would trot around several blocks. But the past week, we have cut it back to walking around one block and even then he stops a few times. He has a visit with our regular vet tomorrow. His next cardiologist appointment is May 30, but we will go sooner if necessary.
We don’t know what the future holds for this boy. But he is the eternal optimist. He makes the most of every day. We will continue to work on some bucket list items, and now that the weather is warmer, it opens him up to more activities. Please remember this sweet boy in your thoughts and prayers.
5/27/18 Update:  Merlin had an absolute blast at the Dallas Pet Expo. He was excited to meet all the people who came to see him. One woman said she came just hoping to see Merlin and she sat with him and cried for 20 minutes. But all the attention did take a toll on him. He took a 2-hour break behind the tables on Saturday and about 45 minutes on Sunday. His strength and stamina is definitely not what it was a month ago. Even before it got hot, we had to cut way back on his walking. He goes to the cardiologist Wednesday for a 3-month checkup. They will run several tests while he is there. Hopefully, a tweak of his medicine will help get him back where he was. But, we will just have to wait to see what the future holds for this sweet guy.

But he did make it to the expo and he got a selfie with a woman, so he is still working on his bucket list. He hopes to make it to a local lake this summer and eat some more yummy ice cream!

6/1/18 Update:  Merlin’s checkup was better than expected. Heart pressure is down from 133 to 101. Of course, it is supposed to be less than 10 and anything over 80 is severe. But it is better! The staff gave him his own MedVet bandanna to wear! We won’t need to go back until mid-October, unless there is a problem. Oh, and he has gained 4 pounds of muscle in the past 3 months! No sign of fluid.

7/11/18 Update:

Merlin is so excited about his upcoming birthday. He can’t believe all the presents he is getting to share with his friends and all the new friends he will be meeting. Yesterday, he marked another item off his Bucket List. He had no idea an ice cream cone could be so delicious. Who cares about brain freeze! He hopes to see everyone Saturday afternoon.

Merlin’s Ice Cream

10/16/18 Update:  Merlin checking in!  Boy did I fool foster pops, and Dr. Larsen, and Dr. Fields and everybody! Shucks I think I even fooled myself. Lately my belly has been a little bigger. And I have been peeing gallons. Some days I think all I do is pee! Sorry foster pops, but I can’t always hold it and I pee in the house. He says I pee A LOT in the house. Hey I’m on meds that make me do it. 

I have really been peeing a lot more lately and everybody thought I might be building up fluid and my congestive heart failure might be coming back. Well, I am Magical Merlin and got a great checkup from Dr. Fields today. The meds are doing their job and no fluid is building up. How could it? You really ought to see how much I pee!  My liver continues to be bigger than it should be, but it is the same size as my last check. They are doing a check to make sure my kidneys and bladder are OK. I don’t have to go back for 3-4 months.

So I have another big item on my Bucket List to work on. I am going to my first Bull-O-Ween! And I am going to be in the Kissing Booth for a while. I can’t wait, cause kissing is my favorite thing to do! So be sure to stop by for a while. Aunt Stacy will make sure I give plenty of good kisses. But she might have to take me outside a few times too. 

And tell my pops, I would pee less in the house if I could go outside without getting my head wet! When is this going to stop? It’s tough being a dog during monsoon season! But I am feeling good. I had a good check up. And I will be resting up to get ready to kiss everyone on Saturday night. Hope to see you there! 

12/8/18 Update:  Merlin continues to do remarkably well. He is excited about his first Christmas in rescue. He has heard there might be something special just for him. And he wants to know how many more dress-ups before Christmas!

1/13/19 Update:  Happy anniversary, Merlin! Normally, if we talk about a dog being in rescue for a year, it’s a sad thing. It means no one wants the dog, for any number of reasons. Merlin’s case is a whole different story.

Merlin was picked up at a shelter early on January 13, 2018 and he was in very serious condition. I didn’t know if he would live to get to my vet or if he would live over the weekend to make it to the rescue vet.

But look at him today! He still has a severe heart issue and he has good days and bad. He’s having a few more bad days, as the months pass. But I think he still has a lot of life in him. And believe me, he takes full advantage of that every day. He is a wonderful example to all of us in that respect.

We don’t know what the future holds. Early last year, the cardiologist gave him 4-16 months. But so far, the care and all your thoughts and prayers have kept him going. Why not shoot for another year in rescue?

1/29/19 Update:  Merlin has not been his usual wild and crazy self lately. He has acted tired. We went for his regular cardiologist visit today. He loves seeing them and is normally bubbling over with excitement. Today, everyone noticed the difference. He quickly quieted down and sat in the corner. Someone asked me if I had been working on his behavior. But we all knew the answer.

He is back in mild congestive heart failure. The right side if his heart is so thick from the pressure and the work it has done in his short life. It is no longer able to pump as it once did. The heartbeat is more shallow than before. Thankfully, there is not yet fluid in his abdomen.

So we are adjusting his medications and he will go back next week for a follow up. We have always known his days were numbered. But in a year of seeing the cardiologist, this is the first time he has taken a step back.

3/7/19 Update:  Merlin continues to hold his own. Some days are better than others. Some days he wants to play a lot and others he just wants to lay around. But he still enjoys playing with the other dogs when he feels like it. Or he will just lay around with his buddy Sawyer if it is a slow day. So far the increased diuretics seem to be keeping the fluid off and him out of congestive heart failure. He even felt good enough to spend an hour at the last rescue event.

We all just take it one day at a time and enjoy him all we can.

4/22/19 Update:  Merlin continues to light up our lives every day, but it is becoming more obvious that he is struggling. We have increased his diuretic again to reduce the fluid retention and congestive heart failure. He is more tired and wears out quickly. He is having more days when he doesn’t want to eat. So we are getting inventive in fixing new things to increase his appetite.

He wants to spend more and more time just sitting next to me with his head in my lap or on my shoulder. But every day he inspires me to be better and do more. If he can do it, so can we!

4/29/19 Update:  If you ever questioned the power of positive thoughts and prayers, you need look no further than Merlin this past week. He had three fairly bad weeks in a row. The first of last week was the worst. Then we posted about him on Facebook, and everything changed!  He ended the week with three of the best days he has had in weeks. 

He felt good enough for sunny romp through the bluebonnets. He had some special friends come see him Saturday night and he entertained them for two hours. And then he spent over an hour at the event Sunday meeting and and loving on his fans. 

He slept very good Sunday afternoon and night and has rested a lot Monday. But after all the activity of the weekend, he is still so much better than last week. Thanks to everyone for their support!

9/10/19 Update:  Merlin continues to amaze us all. He had a checkup recently with his cardiologist, Dr. Fields, who was very pleased. We are not sure how his heart keeps working, but it does. It continues to get weaker and more muffled. He cannot produce the pressure he once did, as his heart wall thickens. But thankfully, he can’t read any of that medical stuff! He is just focused on living and enjoying each day as it comes.

There are days it is obvious he doesn’t feel well. He doesn’t eat much and he is Mr. Grumpy with everyone (even Sawyer). But right now, those days are not as frequent as they were two months ago. He is looking forward to a cooler fall and being able to get out and attend some more events.

9/16/19 Update:  Merlin’s foster family had other plans for this past week, so Merlin had a sleepover with one of his favorite people. She writes his report this week.

In January 2018, I saw a story on the LSBCR Facebook page about a boy named Merlin.  He’d just been picked  from a local shelter.  He was in horrible shape. His skin was horrific and his belly huge, full of fluid.  Tears flowed as I read the story.  I found an instant connection with this little guy as Merlin’s story completely captured me.  I stalked the LSBCR Facebook page daily, watching for updates, only to read one day that he was diagnosed with terminal congestive heart failure.  This was the same diagnosis I lost my bulldog from months before.

Several weeks later I had the honor of meeting this little guy at a rescue event and as suspected , it was love at first site.  His personality, his magical aura, was, and still is truly contagious.  When you’re around Merlin you never want to leave him.  He interacts with each individual showing love and compassion.

Never did I imagine I would have the opportunity to enjoy Merlin in my home for a week but the opportunity arose and I was ecstatic to volunteer.  Merlin was welcomed with love from the entire family.  My bully Jax has never welcomed another male dog into his home but this was not so with Merlin. It was like he knew there was something very special about him and wanted to be his friend.  He stayed close to Merlin throughout the week.  Sometimes I would find him licking Merlin, as though he was trying to nurse him back to health.  I was shocked in amazement.

The week was somewhat quiet.  Merlin helped me do computer work in the office and when he got tired, he’d lay next to me and sleep.  He loved to go outside for short periods. He ran and played chase with Sissy and Jax.   He chased squirrels in the yard, and had a meet and greet with the neighbors and their pups.

Merlin quickly learned at 5:00pm it’s patio time.  Time to go sit on the porch sofa and  enjoy something cold.  Okay, I know what you’re thinking and it was not beer.  Who wants beer when you can enjoy ice cream or popsicles! Ice cream was definitely his favorite but then he also preferred tortilla soup over his dog food.  Oh yes, I must mention the scrambled eggs that were gobbled up in mere seconds.  All his meals were hand fed to him.  It was just my way of showing him how important he was to me.

I watched Merlin very close throughout the week and couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking.  It’s apparent he’s tired but I can see that he lives life to the fullest, he’s happy, and his heart is full of joy.  He knows there’s more lives to touch, more love to give, so he keeps on going.

There’s a saying, “If love could keep you alive, you would live forever”.  If that could be true,  Merlin would indeed live forever and ever.   See you in the kissing booth at Bulloween sweet Merlin.   Love, Aunt Stacy

Merlin Vacation