From the condition of Birch’s body, it was clear that this sweet old man had not been thriving for quite a while before being seized by animal control. Immediately after he was rescued, he was seen by a veterinarian who noted he had advanced Uveitis. Uveitis is the inflammation of the tissue layer in the eye called the uveal tract. When inflamed, the effects are painful and symptoms such as squinting, tearing or cloudiness can be seen. In Birch’s case, the disease had advanced, and vision loss was evident. Medications including eye ointment and Bute were administered and treatment was started to help alleviate the pain. Unfortunately, there was very little improvement over the next weeks. His body condition also was poor. His thick shaggy coat and lack of topline muscles were classic symptoms of Cushing’s disease. Blood test confirmed that he was indeed suffering from Cushing’s and that this was likely a contributing factor to Birch’s poor quality of life.

We had the difficult decision to make, and all options were discussed closely with our vets. Ultimately, we could not justify asking him to endure more suffering so we said our last goodbyes to this gentle boy.  He deserved dignity and respect, and we did not feel that it would be in his best interest, given his advanced age, to allow him to continue to suffer. Surgery to remove the painful left eye would be very risky given his age, poor body condition and low immune system due to Cushing’s. While euthanasia was the last thing we wanted for Birch’s future, we knew that we had to make the hard decision that any owner faces when their animal is suffering. If proper medical care and treatments had been started earlier, Birch would not have declined to this poor condition and he could have enjoyed more years in retirement. To ask him to suffer any longer would have been cruel. It is very disheartening that Birch had to live so long in pain.

Rest in peace, sweet man, you will not be forgotten.