ANGEL'S STORY

Even though April (see previous story) and
Angel are sisters, Angel's story is very unique
and must be told on a page of its own.

Weeks before Angel's birth, she was already
engaged in a fierce fight for life.  A week
before DeeDee's due date, we had a
precautionary xray done by our vet.  The
xray revealed three puppies, but only two of
them were completely formed.  The third one
was not as far developed as the other two and,
therefore, wasn't given much of a chance for
survival.  DeeDee, however, didn't give birth
on her due date.  She actually went ten days
beyond her due date.  The extra ten days gave
little Angel a chance to catch up, and her
lungs developed enough to give her a better
chance to survive in the outside world.  
Unfortunately, the extra ten days also cost
the largest puppy we later named Tabitha, her
life.  Tabitha was too large to be born and
became stuck in the birth canal.  We tried to
get to the vet to have a C-section performed,
but we couldn't get there quick enough.  
Tabitha suffocated and died before she was
born.

Tabitha was a beautiful white powderpuff
Chinese Crested who gave her life in order
for her sister to live.  Tabitha is now buried
in our pet cemetery with a memorial marker,
just as our other beloved pets.

Angel was very tiny at birth but she appeared
to be fully formed and able to breathe on her
own. She was born with a broken tail and, as
we discovered much later, no cartilage in her
ears which gave her no ability to stand her
ears up like a normal Chinese Crested.  When
she didn't attempt to nurse as most newborns
do, we examined her further.  Shelly
immediately noticed that the puppy had a
cleft palate.  A wide trench was carved out on
the roof of Angel's mouth from the very front
all the way down her throat.  There was no
way this pup would ever be able to eat.

After learning of this grave disability, I held
her and gave her the name Angel because I
was sure she would have to be put to sleep and
then become an Angel at Rainbow Bridge.  I
gave her to Shelly and asked her to take her
to the vet's office.

A little while later Shelly called me from the
vet's office.  My vet knew how much my dogs
meant to me and offered a possible solution.  
There were no guarantees of success, but the
vet said if I had the patience to tube feed
Angel until she was about 3 months old, she
was a possible candidate for surgery to close
the cleft.  Of course I said YES, I would do
whatever it took to save my Angel.

Things definitely did not come easy from this
point forward.  Angel basically had to be
removed from DeeDee except at night.  I left
her with her mother at night so she could still
form a bond with her and her sister, April.  I
went to the vet's office the next morning to
learn how to take care of Angel.  I was given
a very narrow, 8-inch-long tube and was
instructed on how to literally thread the end
of this tube down Angel's throat until it
reached her stomach.  A syringe with puppy
formula was attached to the end of it and had
to be injected at just the right interval to
keep the milk from coming back up.  As if this
wasn't enough of a challenge, I was told to be
very careful when inserting the tube because
it could very easily be directed into her lungs
instead of her stomach.  If this happened, I
would drown her.  I was also warned that this
type of feeding could also lead to pneumonia
and death.

To make tube feeding a little easier, my vet
made a mark on the tube with tape and said
the tube should go all the way in until the tape
reached her mouth.  If the tube stopped
before getting that far in, then the tube was
in her lungs and I would have to pull it out and
start over.  Feeding Angel this way every
four hours was very hard on my nerves, but I
did get quite good at it as I got more and
more practice.

During the week I would drop Angel at my
vet's office on my way to work for "doggie
day care".  This way the technicians were
there to feed her during the day and I would
take care of the night feedings.  This schedule
continued until she was about 5 weeks old.  
Then the feedings were cut down to where she
could go without a feeding for several hours
until I got home.

I did have quite a few very scary moments
during those first few weeks of taking care
of Angel.  There were times when the milk
would come back up and she would start
choking.  Other times the milk would start
pouring out of her nose.  When she was a
couple months old, the milk was mixed with a
special thickener to provide more nourishment
for a growing puppy.  The "thickened" milk
was harder to push down the tube and Angel
was bigger and stronger and harder to hold on
to.  At this point it always took two people to
feed her.

When Angel was about 10 weeks old, we really
started running into difficulty.  She now had
very sharp little puppy teeth.  By now she had
associated the tube with food and tried to do
what comes naturally -- chew.  By the time the
tube reached her stomach and we would start
pumping the food in, she would bite down on
the tube and split it.  Each time it got worse
until I finally took her back to the vet to try
and figure out something else.  He examined
her and said it was time to do the surgery to
close the cleft.  He would have preferred
waiting a couple more weeks, but with her
chewing on the feeding tube, there was no
alternative.

It was a very hard surgery to perform and
took almost five hours to complete.  I went in
that night after the surgery to see Angel and
immediately broke into tears.  Her whole face
was swollen and bloody and she couldn't even
hold her head up.  The vet told me he was
taking her home with him that night because
she had to be watched very closely.  The next
night I was able to take her home.  She slept
constantly for almost 3 days.

The feeding tube was now surgically inserted
through the side of her neck directly into her
esophagus.  It was all taped in place where it
wouldn't have to be removed.  Her diet was
changed to a regular prescription canned dog
food that was made to be watered down in
order to go through the tube.  I was given a
64-ounce syringe to put the food in.  At
feeding time we only had to remove the cap
from the tube, attach the syringe with the
food, and push it through.  This was a lot
easier than trying to find her stomach with
the separate tube, but it was still risky for
her.

Angel was tube fed in this manner until she
was almost 5 months old.  She had a complete
wardrobe of little T-shirts that we had to
keep on her to hide the end of the tube so the
other dogs wouldn't pull it out.  Then one day
when she was playing with April, the tube
came out of her neck during a wrestling
match.  I panicked and we rushed her to the
vet.  Upon checking her mouth, he said it
appeared to be healed enough so she could try
and eat on her own.  He brought in a dish of
canned puppy food and gave it to her.

There are no words to describe her reaction
to the food.  For the very first time in the
five months of her life, Angel could actually
eat normally and taste what she was eating.  
There were no more problems with her mouth.  
We fed her twice a day, and at each feeding
she would eat an entire can and beg for more.

Presently there is still one small opening in
Angel's mouth right behind her front teeth.  
It hasn't given her any problems so far, so
the suggestion was to just leave it alone.

Angel has grown into a beautiful dog with a
great personality.  While Mom was still alive,
Angel would do her rounds visiting the
residents at the nursing home.  She loves to go
on trips and she loves getting her picture
taken.  Of all the dogs we currently have,
Angel definitely takes the title of "head
mistress".  She has a way of strutting around
with that little broken tail held high as if to
say,"HEY EVERYBODY, LOOK AT ME --  
I'M SPECIAL".  And she is!

    ************
ANGEL'S BIRTHDAY--4/18/01
ANGEL (BOTTOM) AND APRIL
3 WEEKS OLD -- HUNGRY
FIVE WEEKS OLD
ANGEL AND TARA
THE PICTURES ABOVE AND
BELOW WERE TAKEN RIGHT
AFTER THE SURGERY TO REPAIR
ANGEL'S CLEFT PALATE
APRIL TRYING TO COMFORT HER
SISTER AFTER SURGERY
ANGEL HAD A COMPLETE
WARDROBE OF
T-SHIRTS TO HIDE HER FEEDING
TUBE
ANGEL AT FIVE MONTHS OF
AGE.  THIS WAS TAKEN SHORTLY
AFTER THE FEEDING TUBE WAS
FINALLY REMOVED.  
CHRISTMAS - 2001
EASTER - 2002
JULY 2002
ANGEL PARTICIPATED IN THE CHARITY WALK FOR THE AMERICAN HEART
ASSOCIATION IN OCTOBER 2003.  SHE WALKED FOR WINTER HAVEN
HOSPITAL.  HERE SHE IS WEARING HER HOSPITAL T-SHIRT AND CARRYING
HER STETHOSCOPE.  
ANGEL'S FIRST HAIRCUT
JULY 2003
SAILING WITH SIS  
WONDER WHAT SHE'S WISHING
FOR
My precious Angel, I can’t even begin to describe the sadness in our family since you left us yesterday,
January 23, 2010, just before 4 pm.  Your life with us was a gift from God, given on the day you were
born.  We tried to prepare ourselves to return you to God on that very day since you were born with a
cleft palate and couldn’t nurse.  But God had a job for you to do on Earth and gave us the ability to save
you so you could live a happy, normal life.  Your job on Earth is now complete and you had to return to
Heaven to be with your mother, DeeDee, and your baby sister, Tabitha, who didn’t make it in order to give
you a chance to live.

Your little heart was a ticking time bomb according to the vets at the emergency clinic where we had to
rush you last October.  It was leaking badly in two places and it was only a matter of time until the leak
became so large that it would fill your lungs.  The vets said you probably would be gone before Christmas.  
But you were always so headstrong and you insisted on always doing things your way, so you decided to wait
until my birthday a month later to begin your journey to the Bridge.  Knowing you as I do, you probably
chose that day thinking that I would have to always think of you on my birthdays in the years to come.  But
this time you are so wrong – I will think of you every single day for the rest of my life.

You tried very hard to be a little devil in disguise, but you really weren’t very good at it.  Your temper
tantrums were always ignored by the others, and your loud howling whenever you found yourself in a room
alone really didn’t get the results you wanted.  Well, maybe I’m wrong there.  Dad and I would always run
to see if you were in some kind of trouble, but there you were – sitting in the middle of the room all by
yourself waiting for someone to answer your howls.  When you saw us, you were satisfied that you had won
and would wave that tail in the air like a flag and walk out of the room ahead of us.  You sure did have a lot
of very unique behaviors that you used to wrap us around your little paws.

You did a lot of good things during your eight and a half years on Earth.  There were so many walks around
Lake Hollingsworth year after year to raise money for the SPCA.  And of course the walk for the Heart
Association representing the Winter Haven Hospital back in 2003 will never be forgotten.  You looked so
cute with your hospital t-shirt and your stethoscope around your neck.  If only there was more research
being done to repair the hearts of dogs, then maybe we could have once again saved you.

We will always love you and we will never forget all the joy you brought to our lives for nearly nine years.
* * * * * * *
Angel’s life story continues below…….
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STORY