On Friday, October 3, 2009, I awoke with a message either from a dream or vision. I told my husband that I had the strangest dream.  I dreamt it was the darkest day ever. A voice in my dream said to enjoy it; it would  be the last one. 

So I started making plans for that day.  The first thing on my list of things to do that day was to take my little Elvis to Caremore Animal Hospital, so he could be given intravenous fluid therapy, as the vet felt he was becoming dehydrated.  So I got ready and wrapped a blanket around Elvis and carried and put him my car and drove to the vet’s office. On the way there, I was telling my Elvis how much I loved him and his mommy knows that he don’t feel good but not to worry because mommy was taking him to the doctor, so that they could make mommy’s little Elvis feel better again.  Elvis was looking at me while I was talking to him and it was as if, he understood what I was telling him, and  the look in his eyes was as if he was saying back to me, he knows how much I love him and not to worry, that he was a big boy and to wipe my tears, because he hated when I was upset or cried.  I can recall arriving at the vet’s office and carrying my little Elvis inside their office and holding him in my arms, and I kissed his face and said, mommy will be back later to pick him up and not to be scared, everything was going to be alright.  

As I left the vet’s office, I was thinking what was the next thing I had on my list of things to do for the day, but my heart held fast on going back home and getting on the internet and trying to research the meaning of some of the areas on the blood test panel that were done on Elvis, the day before, as I had picked up the results when I dropped Elvis off that morning.  I wanted to learn what these things meant and what their function was and what was causing such low and high results. 

I spent the entire day on the internet researching as much as I could find. I wanted to know what I was up against and what all this meant.  Then it was time for me to go pick up Elvis at the vet’s office, as they wanted me to leave him there the entire time up until right before they closed, because the more fluids that Elvis could get in him, the better it would be for him.  After arriving at the vet’s office, the vet tech’s put me in an exam room and went to bring me my little Elvis. I can recall how weak Elvis looked and how he had little strength to keep his eyes open.  They had him wrapped in the blanket I had brought him in that morning.  Shortly, thereafter, the Vet came into the room and said, that Elvis did fine the entire day and they were able to get him a lot of fluids put back into his body and that he had not vomited up the entire day and the vet tech’s took him outside a few times during the day and he urinated on his own, which the Vet said both were good results and he gave me about 15 syringes in a plastic bag and said that I would need to use these to get more fluids inside him and to use the syringes when I got some baby food, to get some type of food in his stomach, because Elvis had stopped eating and drinking on his own just a few days ago and I did not want him to get dehydrated. I then wanted to discuss the tests results that they had done on Elvis, because some areas were way above normal range and what did this mean.  He said that Elvis’ was showing signs of going into Chronic Kidney Failure and in a panic I said what does that mean, what can we do for him, is my Elvis dying or he is going die over the weekend?  I needed some answers right now.  The Vet said, although his tests were not good and generally not a good sign, he did not feel that Elvis would die over the weekend and if I were able to keep some fluids in him and keep some baby food in him and if he did not vomit them it back up, that come Monday, Elvis would probably start feeling better. If not there is nothing you can do, his kidney’s are starting to shut down.  I broke down and  started crying and just recall picking Elvis up and holding him in that blanket and telling him not to worry that his mommy would help him and that his mommy would make him better. 

After leaving the Vet’s office, I cried the entire way home, this time, Elvis no longer looked at me, as if he understood why I was crying.  Instead his laid on my seat wrapped in his blanket with him barely able to keep his eyes open and as if he had begun slipping away.  I knew that I had to pull it together because crying created a film over my contacts, which makes everything appear fuzzy and unfocused, which would make it difficult for me to drive.  Upon arriving back home, I carried Elvis inside the house and placed him on couch. Elvis had become so weak that he could not support his body  on his own.  He could not even stand up for a second on his own.  So I carried him back inside and wrapped him in his blanket and put a doggy diaper on him and put him in a doggy bed and carried it inside my computer room and placed it right beside my chair and then I got back on the internet looking for more answers as to what was happening with my Elvis and what treatment was available.

A couple of hours passed and I went and put some apple juice in one of the syringes, and heated up some baby food and put it in another syringe and attempted to give them to Elvis.  I told Elvis that I know he doesn’t want to eat or drink anything and that he probably wants us to leave him alone so he could rest but that if he was going to get better, he had to let us help him and that meant he needed to cooperate with us and he needed the fluids and baby food so he could get his strength back up and so he would feel better.  

From the time I brought Elvis home that evening until the next morning, I would repeat giving him some fluids and baby food, about every 2 to 3 hours.  I was not able to get much in him each time, is why I was having to do it so often.  During the course of the evening  into the night, my poor little Elvis, just laid there in the doggy bed wrapped in his blanket, and about every 2 to 3 hours, we would take Elvis outside so he could try and go to the bathroom, but every time, Elvis would just lay straight down and he could not hold himself up.  I knew that Elvis at this point was very weak, and I kept telling myself that come morning, he would probably be able to stand up on his own and use the bathroom, but for now that he just needed to rest, so that he could regain his strength.  

Then around 4:00 a.m., I had picked Elvis up from the loveseat in my computer room where he was laying on a blanket.  I screamed in panic for my husband, for as I was picking Elvis up, he all control of his bowels and his body felt so lifeless, yet he was still breathing.  I carried Elvis in the kitchen, as I had to put him the sink and wash him off and then I wrapped him a towel and used the blow dryer to dry him.  I knew this was not a good sign, as when this happens to humans that are sick, and this weak, the next thing that follows is death.   Death was something that I could not even think about and how I would be able to handle losing my little Elvis.   

Elvis was the type of dog that never was one to complain or show his emotions.  He had always been a very happy dog, who never met a stranger.  He greeted everyone with such love and happiness.  Everyone who ever met Elvis, just loved him.  He never was aggressive towards any person or another animal of any type.  He was always listened and never did anything  bad, his entire life.   In almost 13 years, Elvis only barked one time, and never once growled or snapped at anyone or anything.  He always would share his doggy toys with another dogs.  Elvis never wanted to be in the spot light and get all the attention, as some dogs like to have.  He enjoyed just hanging out and being content and happy.  In my eyes, Elvis was the best dog that anyone ever could want or have and I was the lucky one to share life with him.   

So I began putting together, everything that I needed to have to perform a prayer ceremony.  By then it was around 9:30 a.m. the next morning.  I had been up all night without any sleep and was starting to feel the toll of my body needing to get some rest, but I was afraid to go to sleep because what if my Elvis needed me and I was a sleep.  How would I know?   So I just pushed forward and kept a close watch on Elvis and his condition and there had been no signs that he was getting any better, if anything his condition was becoming worse.  

I hold you in my heart, and wrap you in my love.  My circle of protection, descends now from above.  And as I send this energy, all the pain shall disappear. And all disease shall dissipate and shrivel up in fear.  The emptiness I now replace, with fresh vitality, so you may thrive upon the earth, in laughter, love and glee.  Brightest blessings and good health, my Elvis, encase you from now on. I ask that they watch over you and keep you well and strong. 

By this time it was just after 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.  Then I carried Elvis in the doggy bed back into my computer room and I began debating on whether or not it would be safe for me to leave Elvis alone long enough for me to get a few hours sleep. As by this time, I was extremely tired and worn out from everything going on and had not been to bed in over 24 hours.  I also had to make the decision on whether or not I thought Elvis would need to be seen before his vet’s office reopened on Monday morning.  Seeing how his condition was not getting any better and he had seemed to be doing worse than the day before and surely not as his vet as told me, that by Monday, he would probably feel much better.   For he began panting again, and seemed to have a difficult in breathing, and was seeming to be more restless.  The Veterinarian that Elvis goes to is not open on the weekends.   This would leave me with going to St. Francis Animal Hospital, which is our areas largest Veterinary Service Facility that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

It was now around 11:30 a.m. and I was still in my pajama’s and saw I only had 30 min. left if I was going to be able to make it there by their emergency after hours care began.  In a panic I made the decision to rush Elvis to St. Francis and this way I could at least avoid the $100.00 emergency care visit charge.  Nothing could have ever prepared me for what was to soon to follow.   That I would have to leave Elvis there and that it would be the last time I would see Elvis alive. 
The Veterinarian came into the exam room and I brought him up to date on the events that had taken place since Wednesday of that week and had Elvis’ notebook which was his complete medical records, of everything and anything he has ever had done.  This includes all of his blood tests given and the results up to that day.  He looked over the blood work just taken less than 48 hours ago and looked at both my husband and said, what did the Veterinarian that has been seeing Elvis tell us when we picked up him yesterday after having the intravenous fluid therapy?  I then said, “....he told me that although his tests were not good and generally not a good sign, he did not feel that Elvis would die over the weekend and if I were able to keep some fluids in him and keep some baby food in him and if he did not vomit them it back up, that come Monday, Elvis would probably start feeling better”.  

During the time I was telling him that, he was examining Elvis and listening to his heart beat.  I will never forget the look he had on his face when he looked up at us, as well as I will never forget that sharp pain I felt in my stomach at the same time, nor the knot I felt in my throat,   because I could see in his eyes and by his facial expression that what he was about to say, I was not ready to handle and that they were words I did not want to hear, which is Elvis was dying.  My husband asked if Elvis was in pain and suffering and we were told yes, he was.  The Veterinarian said, he was surprised that the Veterinarian that had been seeing Elvis did not tell me that when I picked Elvis up yesterday or why he did not tell me that  Elvis would more than likely not make it another 24 hours. 

The Veterinarian wanted to take a few x-rays of Elvis’ lungs because a dog in Elvis’ condition, there are risks that come with giving him intravenous fluids, which is water can start to back up in his lungs, which would kill him.   It seemed like the wait was forever, even though it had only been about 5 or 10 minutes.  I phoned my mother and told her what was going on and that Elvis was dying and they had him in the back taking some x-rays and told her where we were and she hung up the phone and drove straight there.  I was crying so hard and the pain I felt in my stomach, was as if someone had take an knife and stabbed me and I started praying to God, not to take my Elvis from me, to please leave my Elvis here on earth with me, that I was not ready for this moment and I could not handle losing Elvis.   I prayed that over and over, until the Veterinarian came back in the room with Elvis.   He then gave us the more bad news, the x-rays revealed that water was starting to build up in Elvis’ lungs.    We were then given 3 options.

1) to give them permission to euthanize Elvis so he would not be in pain and suffering.

2) they could get the water out of his lungs and then send Elvis home with us and he would give us something for the pain to give him and send us home with some subcutaneous fluid therapy but in Elvis’ condition what would we do if water started filling in his lungs again, how would we know?  What happens if even started having a harder time than he was having already with breathing?  The only good that would come out of this option, is that Elvis would have died at home with us, and not there without us. 

3) This option was the most expensive.  Your average person does elect this option because of the extreme costs.  It required that we leave a credit card deposit of a minimum of $1500.00 before we could leave Elvis with them.  I would also need to sign a document stating my wishes if the worst should happen, do I want them to attempt to revive him and bring him back or did I not want that should it come to this.  They could remove the water building up in his lungs, but with them having to put him immediately back on intravenous fluids, they would probably be fighting a non win losing battle.  The water would more than likely start to fill his lungs again.  The veterinarian wanted to be up front and completely honest with us, in his medical opinion he did not think that Elvis had the will to live and was too weak and had given up the fight, and there was only a very slim chance he would still be able to pull this but even if he did, we would still need to treat his kidney’s from shutting down, and the other organs, and not sure how much longer he would be here even then.   The odds were stacked against us and Elvis was now having a difficult time in breathing and was more than likely in great pain.   They could give him something for the pain, and they could put him on oxygen, by putting an oxygen face mask on him but all of this just might not be enough, but if I wanted to do this option, they would surely do everything in their power to save his life.  I just needed to decide quickly because time was of the essence. 

When we returned home, I tried so hard to keep busy, so I would not think about my poor little Elvis, fighting for his life and I constantly kept checking my phone, to see if somehow the Vet’s office had called me.  Then after about a couple of hours, I decided to call the Vet’s office to check on my little Elvis and see how he was doing.  The receptionist got the Vet on the phone and I said, how is my little Elvis doing? The Vet said, 'I'm sorry. We did all we could, but Elvis didn't make it, we just lost him.' I dropped the phone, without even saying goodbye, and I screamed out as loud as I could, “No, Elvis, No, you can’t leave your mommy like this, please Elvis come back to me, I need you”. My husband was outside at the time, and he heard me screaming and came running into the house.  He said, what’s wrong and I told him I had called the Vet to check on Elvis and they told me Elvis just died.  

I was so hysterical and I have never cried so hard in all my life.  I just saying I want my Elvis, he can’t leave me, not my Elvis.   Please Elvis, come back to me, don’t leave me, I need you here with me.  Why didn’t you give me enough time to write the letter, so that I could read it to you and tell you how much I love you.  You were suppose to wait until I read the letter to you before you left me Elvis.  Why, Why, just someone tell me why my Elvis has to go now?   I said, why can’t God make dogs live as long as humans do.  Why has God taken away my little Elvis.  I need him more than God.  What kind of God would take away my Elvis.  Somebody, just tell me why, my Elvis.  

My husband called St. Francis, to see what we needed to do and they said, they could cremate Elvis if we would like or we could come and pick him up. My husband said, no we are not going to cremate Elvis, he would be right there to pick him up and bring him home to bury him.  When my husband returned, he carried in my little Elvis and he was laying so peacefully, in a small box from the Vet’s office.  I walked over to the counter and still emotional and crying, I looked at my little Elvis, and said, why did they leave his tongue hanging out of his mouth, and asked my husband to please open his mouth and place his tongue back inside. Elvis still had his eyes, barely open, just as he did when we left him at the vet’s office.  His body was still warm, and I kissed him on the forehead and told him, how much I loved him and I was so sorry that I could not help him or save him from dying. I told him that I would go write the letter I promised to write him, and that when I was finished, I would come back in there and read it to him.  

So I went back to my computer room and attempted to write Elvis the letter.  My heart was hurting so badly, that I could not even begin to write the letter, all I could think about was how my little Elvis was gone and how his lifeless body, just laid in the box in our kitchen.   While my husband was outside in our backyard preparing Elvis’ grave, I stayed inside, hoping that this was all a bad dream and that I would wake up any second now and my Elvis would still be alive. That never happened.  Over the next several hours, I cried and screamed and shouted  to God, for some answers.   Why had he taken away my little Elvis.  Elvis never did anything to anyone, why my Elvis and that if he was loving God that he would not have taken my Elvis from me.  I told him that he was a selfish God, and I hated him for taking away my Elvis and to bring him back me.   Our other two Shih Tzu’s, Winston and Dizzy, looked as if they knew what had happened and that Elvis was never longer with us.  

I remember  a few times, coming back in the kitchen to check on Elvis, to see if I had just imagined all this and that everything was just a bad dream, and my little Winston, who is only 5 years old and was Elvis’ little shadow and his little buddy, was just sitting in front of the counter staring up at the box that Elvis was in and I am not lying, my little Winston had tears in his eyes, he knew that Elvis had passed, he could sense it.  For the next several hours, Winston did not leave that spot, as if he was watching over Elvis. 

My other Shih Tzu, Dizzy, who is 10 years and was just a small puppy when we brought her home, she had grown up with Elvis and they were only 3 years apart in age.   It did not seem to be bothering Dizzy, as she just acted like her normal self.  They say that dogs mourn just like us humans mourn.  However, we all mourn differently and perhaps Dizzy was mourning, but just in her own way.  My mother came over to see what she could do and to offer me some comfort.  However, I did not want anyone to console me, all I wanted was my Elvis to come back to me.   

I know these are harsh words and I said a lot of hateful things during this time, but I actually thought I was losing it, and I had went insane.  My husband told me that I was scarring him and that he had never seen me this way.  He tried to tell me that Elvis was no longer in pain and was not suffering and that for that I should be thankful.  I didn’t want to hear anything anyone had to say at the time. I just wanted my Elvis to come back to his mommy and begged God to let bring him back to me, just one last time, so I could tell him goodbye and how much I loved him. 

I asked my husband, why couldn’t God let my Elvis stay at least  one more day, because it would have been Elvis’ 13th birthday and why didn’t God let him live long enough for Elvis to turn 13. Where was God when my Elvis needed him?  Why wasn’t God there for him?   I said it is not fair that God took Elvis from me.  Why couldn’t Elvis of stayed with me, as he still had lots of years left and why did God take him away so early, somebody just tell me why, why, why, just answer me that?  I pulled myself together long enough for me and my mom to go by Targets and get a cooler large enough to put Elvis in and I went by the baby department and got picked out a nice baby blanket and pillow for head.  On a few occasions, I would look over at Elvis just laying so peacefully, and I swear I saw him breathing but it was just my mind playing tricks on me, for my Elvis was gone and he was not coming back to me.  

About 6 hours had passed after my husband brought Elvis back home from the Vet’s.  He told me that I know God did not let Elvis live to see his 13th birthday but if it made me feel any better we could wait and bury Elvis after midnight, so then he could be buried on his birthday.  I said that would be fine, for I wanted to keep Elvis with me, just as long as  I could before it was time for us to bury him. 

When the time came, my husband came inside and told me that Elvis had been laying in box on the counter long enough and that we really needed to go ahead and bury him, that he could not stay like this any longer. I just kept saying, wait a second, I am still writing Elvis the letter I promised him, that day in the Vet’s office and I have to get his favorite stuffed toy and put him together a care package and a few photos for him to have when he goes to Rainbow Heaven and I still had to find an old cell phone that we don’t use anymore, and make sure it is charged, so I can send that too with Elvis, in case, he should ever want to call home. Then the time had finally arrived, it was time to say our final goodbye to Elvis and to bury him.  I read him the letter I had wrote him and I said a prayer for him and told him goodbye and we took Elvis outside and my husband placed him in the ground and once again, I told Elvis how much I loved him and told him to have a safe journey to Rainbow Bridge.  

Then I turned around and went back inside the house and my mom asked if I wanted to come spend the night at their house, because she knew I wouldn’t be able to stay there that night with Elvis being gone and so I packed up Winston and Dizzy and loaded them in the car and headed over to my parents house for the night.   My husband stayed behind to bury Elvis and had promised to come to my parents when he was done.  

I think I slept until noon the next day, and when I woke up I noticed that Thomas had not came over like he said he would. So I called him on the phone, to see if he was alright and ask him why he didn’t come over when he was finished burying Elvis.  He said because he did not want to leave Elvis alone that night, he wanted to be there for him and he didn’t want Elvis to think that we just abandoned him on that cold dark night.  I started crying and said I understood and that he was right, we shouldn’t have left Elvis there all alone. 

I returned home later the next evening and it was difficult for me to be in our home without Elvis, because everywhere I looked, I would still Elvis.   There was not a room I could go into that I could not see Elvis.  I could still smell his scent in everywhere.   I felt his presence all around me in every room I went into.  I did not want to stay in our house, but I knew I could not go anywhere else either.  I knew it was just going to take time.  It has now been 5 ½ months since Elvis has passed away and I have only slept in our bed a few times because that is where Elvis use to sleep at night, with us, in the bed.  I still feel his presence in the room, and it is as if he is still here with me, only in a different way. 

Then the strangest thing happened on one of those nights I decided to sleep in our bed.  There was just me and Winston and Dizzy, laying in the bed.  Before I had fell asleep, I was laying in bed crying, for I was thinking about my Elvis and how much I still loved him and how I wish he was still here with us.  The next thing I remember is waking up and Elvis was laying next to me, as if he never had left.  I thought this must be a dream, because Elvis is gone but Winston and Dizzy were still on the bed and were looking over at me, as if they were saying Elvis came back to tell you goodbye mom, your not dreaming, this is really happening.  I was afraid to get up and run and get my husband because what if Elvis left, then I would not have got to hold him and tell him how much I loved him and that I missed him and wish he didn’t ever have to go.  Elvis told me that God had let him come back just for a moment because Elvis knew how much I was hurting and how my pain I still felt inside and that I had not been able to move forward and get on with my life and that perhaps I needed that closure and so he asked God, if he could just come back for a moment for us to say our goodbyes and this is what is said to me:


I know you're going to miss me; but don't think that I will ever forget you, or stop loving you, just 'cause I'm not around to show you 'I Love You'. I will always love you, Mom, even more with each day. Someday we will see each other again. Until then, if you want to adopt another puppy, so you won't be so lonely, that's okay with me. He or she can have my old doggy toys to play with and take my place at the food and water bowls, and should you get a boy puppy, he can wear all my little doggy clothes, when he grows up someday.  But if you should get a girl puppy, then she will have to share Dizzy’s clothes, as I am sure Dizzy won’t mind sharing them with her, because mine is for boys.

Mom, please take care of Winston and Dizzy, as they both are trying so hard to comfort you and they hate to see you cry.  Winston said when you cry, you hold him tight and tell him to bring your Elvis back, and it scares him mom, when you act like that, you know he is still too young to understand.  Your have more love to give them, now that I am gone, and waste these precious moments still mourning my loss. Don't be sad thinking about me.  Heaven really is a neat place, just wait one day you will see. 

Bear and Shelby met me as soon as I got here and showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything. Shelby still has the mustang you sent with her.  Her and Bear ride it in all around heaven, while everyone watches them and say, her mom must have really loved her to send her to Heaven with her own car.  The angels are so cool. I love to watch them fly. And guess what, Mom? I got to sit on God's knee, just like you use to do with me, and I got to talk to Him, like I was somebody important. That's when I told Him that just for a moment, I wanted to come back to earth, so I could tell you good bye and everything. But I already knew that wasn't allowed. Well, you know what Mom? God granted me this request and had Gabriel, who is one of his angels to bring me back to see you now. God said for me to tell you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him 'where was He when I needed him?' 'God said He was in the same place with me, as when His son Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as He always is with all His children. 

I have to go now mom, so please try not to cry.  I need you to be strong for me, the way I know you can be.  I need to get back to Heaven now, because God is going to be bringing some new souls to heaven and I want to be there to meet them at the gate.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I don't hurt anymore the pain is all gone... I'm glad because I couldn't stand that pain anymore and God couldn't stand to see me hurt so much, either. That's when He sent The Angel of Mercy to come get me. The Angel said I was a Special Delivery!  Ok, mom I have to go but promise me you will not cry, as to think of all the happy times we shared and when your time comes, I will be waiting for you  and I will meet you at Heaven's Gates. 

For after Elvis left, I recall the dream I had that 3rd day of October, 2009.    It was then I knew the meaning of my dream.  The “last day” was really Elvis’ last day on earth.  The darkest day in my dream represented our last night together.  I know now what God had revealed to me and what the dream meant. 

For long before Elvis became very ill during his last week of his life, he had some health issues that was inherited from his mother and father when they were bred. 

Back when I purchased Elvis, at the time I was not educated on all that I have since came to know about, puppy mills, backyard breeders, pet store puppies, etc.

For Elvis was purchased at a Pet Store and came from a puppy mill out of Missouri.  This breeder was only in for the money and mass produced puppies to wholesale them to brokers who then sold the puppies to places like Pet Stores.  The breeder did not have the sire and dam tested for any inherited diseases that the Shih Tzu breed are known to have.  For why should they, when they were only in it for money not for the better of the Shih Tzu breed.  It was not until a year or so after having Elvis that I learned about all puppy mills, backyard breeders, pet store puppies.   Knowing all this would not have changed my mind about my Elvis.   There is no amount of money that I ever would have traded for my Elvis.  He was part of my family and my little Angel, I would not have take a million dollars for him.  After learning where Elvis came from, I did not rush out and have any type of specific testing done on him, because Elvis to me seemed rather healthy and showed no signs of sickness or anything.   If I had to ever do over, I would have had him tested. 

For the first 8 years of his life, he was basically healthy and I never had any major health issues.  Then things started slowly happening that was effecting his health but nothing really serious, then when Elvis reached 10 years of age, is when he started having some real problems.  I had complete blood panels and thyroid testing, as well as well some other testing for specific health issues, and all of the tests came back with above or below the reference range for his age and type of breed.   At that point, I then had the DNA testing done.  The DNA testing came back showing he had 2 markers for Liver Disease, also Homozygous mutant allele= Homozygote ( 2 copies of the RD mutation) which is Kidney disease and having 2 copies meant that both of his parents were carriers of having Renal Dysplasia. One positive marker for thyroid disorder, as well as a few other issues.  

Another thing, I have always had all my Shih Tzu’s tested yearly for eye diseases known to the Shih Tzu breed which has been done by Victoria Pentlarge, DVM, a veterinary ophthalmologist, a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, who has a referral practice limited to diseases & surgeries of the animal eye and is located in Athens, Georgia.

Just right before Elvis’ yearly eye exam, I noticed that he was bumping into things occasionally, and just other little things he  would do occasionally, I thought I would take him to have his yearly eye exam a little earlier, and thought maybe he might be just losing his sight due to him just getting older, or that maybe he might be developing  Cataracts or something and Dr. Pentlarge advised me that he had SARDS which stands for Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome.   

This is a condition seen in dogs which results in complete vision loss over a few days to a few weeks.  The cause of SARDS is unknown at this time. It has been shown that it is not an inherited (genetic) disorder. It is currently thought that it is a toxic reaction in the retina possibly related fat bi product, hormonal and immune-mediated causes.

What is a Typical Scenario?  The disease normally occurs in middle-age to older dogs which are commonly overweight. Female dogs are affected more often than male dogs. SARDS may occur in any breed including mixed breed dogs, however, of the pure bred dogs, dachshunds and schnauzers appear to be predisposed. The disease is often associated with an increase in thirst, urination, and weight gain. SARDS may be associated with Cushing’s disease, a condition associated with overproduction of corticosteroids by the adrenal gland. If symptoms are suggestive of Cushing’s disease blood testing is recommended. 

Diagnosis: SARDS is usually confirmed by performing an electrical function test of the retina called an Electroretinogram (ERG). Since the retina appears normal on initial evaluation the test is necessary to distinguish SARDS from other causes of blindness including central nervous system disorders of the optic nerve or the brain. If a dog has SARDS, the ERG will show an absence of retinal activity. If the retinal activity is not extinguished, additional diagnostic testing may be required to determine the cause of the blindness. 

What is the Treatment and what are the Expectations? There is no known treatment available for SARDS. This condition not a painful disorder; pets remain comfortable and pain free. In pets that are positive for Cushing’s disease, treatment of Cushing’s disease is recommended because this disease can have adverse effects on other body systems. Treatment of the Cushing’s disease will not improve vision. 

Since pets with SARDS have rapid vision loss, initially adjustment to their home environment takes a few weeks time to adapt to the changes. Pets’ strong sense of smell and memory and hearing are important during their adaptive period. 

So now barely over 10 years of age, my poor little Elvis now has SARDS.  In addition to all the other health issues he was starting to show signs of having and which most were proven to be inherited from his parents and passed onto him at birth.  

For the next several years, I did everything I possibly could to help Elvis and to give him a longer life but I fought constantly with his liver and kidney disease.  When I would get one thing under control, it was the other that was still growing worse.  Then when I got that under control, it would switch to the other.  Never could I manage to get both with a normal range.  We tried different medications, changed his food and diet constantly, increased and decreased certain vitamins and minerals.  You name it, the Vet did everything, but in the end we lost when his liver became so toxic that the kidney’s could not handle it, and process it all, and that is when his kidney’s shut down  and Elvis died.   

.....BUYER BEWARE.....

We have added this section to our site because this is a cause that is close to our heart. If people would quite buying puppies from pet shops and breeders who have many breeds for sale, dogs would be less likely to be subject to live in these conditions. If you have considered adopting a rescue at all please, explore that option before buying from ANY breeder.  

Please do not go any farther if you have a weak stomach. The links I have provided below are graphic. As is the cruelty these animals are forced to live in.  

Anyone who breeds should do rescue and should sell on spay neuter contracts with a 100% take back at any time!!! If breeders truly care about the puppies they breed, they will be willing to take that puppy back at any time in its life!


You may have known someone who has (or you may yourself have purchased) a "backyard" bred dog - usually from an ad in the newspaper (or more recently, from some internet sites) and had a good experience. I can tell you that it was pure luck. Most of those folks have no idea what they are doing when it comes to responsible breeding. 

They want to "get their money" out of their pet. They will not come right out and say that, but that is what their motivation truly is. They may think their dog is cute or is "just the nicest dog", and think that justifies making more of them. They may want the kids to "see the miracle of birth" or "learn responsibility" by raising puppies. They often do not realize that there may be diseases /problems that can lurk in the genetic background of their dog or the dog they are breeding it to. 

If it is a "registered" dog, they look at their dog's pedigree, and see a list of names on a sheet of paper. Do they know what a particular dog on that list looked like or produced? Did they contact the breeders of those dogs listed on there? Would they think to ask why this dog was bred to that dog? What were the dog's personalities like? Can they really tell the prospective puppy owner any of that with any accuracy? The answer is usually "no". That is kinda scary when you are about to bring the offspring of this gene pool into your home. 

Now is not the time to bargain hunt!!! The above mentioned breeders often sell their puppies at a lower price to make a quick sale. Will they be there for you in the future when you have questions about your dog? Is the relationship over when the money changes hands and the puppy is now your responsibility? Did they ask you about your family or what your home life is like? Do they really seem to care what type of home you are offering? What do they intend to do if the puppies don't all sell? Are they going to get desperate and drop the price so they can "get rid" of them? Are they going to drop them off at the pound or give them away? Do they care as much about the last puppy to leave as much as the first puppy to leave? Will they call you and ask how your first night went? Will they call you and ask how things are going if they haven't heard from you in awhile? I highly doubt it . What does that say about them caring about what they produce? Do they know where they are? 

The money you will spend to correct the problems that will come up later will exceed the purchase price of a healthy puppy from a responsible breeder. Believe me, I have lived through it plenty with my "pet" dogs.

Free to a good home? My husband got a "free" Shepherd/Samoyed mix puppy out of the newspaper many years ago as a teenager. The dog ended up diabetic, requiring special food and daily medication (costing quite a bit of money) and then died after a stroke resulting from a seizure at 3 years old!! That was some expensive "free" puppy!!! He even disliked dogs for a long time due to the pain of losing her. Is this something that you want to put your family through? A well-researched pedigree can save puppy buyers a lot of emotional and financial anguish.


Take the info on the backyard breeder and add this: The dog will probably cost even more and still have the same problems because the people selling puppies to pet stores care even less. How can they track where their puppies are going and to whom? How does someone hold them accountable for the puppies they produce? How can you tell if they will hold up any type of health guarantee when you have never even met them? What kind of a person are you really doing business with?

Usually these puppies come from puppy mills (see links for what a puppy mill is: #1 and #2 ). It supports a life of misery. See a video of how these breeding dogs are treated: #3. At least the backyard breeder's dog may have had some love and affection from it's owner. These folks show a blatant failure to provide proper socialization of the puppies at a young age, and failure to invest in proper care. Those breeders' main goal is to make money. They don't care who they hurt by putting substandard puppies in the hands of innocent pet owners. They just put two dogs together and make puppies with no regard as to what the breeding will produce. Their dogs are not even fed correctly, do you think they are screened for genetic health issues?

Why does a shih tzu look different than a Lhasa Apso? Because responsible breeders breed according to a standard. See this link to: the illustrated breed standard. Their dogs are not screened for genetic faults or diseases and the pedigrees are not researched in an effort to produce quality offspring. Things can crop up from way back in a dog's genetic heritage and doing research before breeding minimizes or prevents this entirely. 

They are preying on the uneducated general public (but after reading the pages here, and following the links, you are not uneducated any more!!!). 

AKC registration is not a guarantee of quality as most backyard breeders and puppy millers would lead you to believe. It only means that the dog's ancestry is tracked/recorded by the AKC. (The same holds true of other registries like APR, for example.) "Purebred" dogs are not necessarily quality dogs, it just means that the heritage is recorded. The quality factor comes into play when the information on those pedigrees is actually used. 

Unless breeders actively show their dogs, and finish champions, they are not qualified to make the determination that their puppies are "show quality". Backyard/puppy mill breeders often advertise "show quality" dogs for sale. What makes them qualified to say this? Do they show their dogs? Are their dogs champions? Are they familiar with the breed standard set forth by the AKC? Can they objectively evaluate their dogs based on that standard or are they just embellishing to make a buck? 

Speaking of embellishing, "Champion bloodlines" is often used as a selling point and is most often quite stretched. They may have one or two champions in the pedigree or have many way back several generations. It is what the parents and grandparents are that will have the most impact (those listed in the first 2 generations) and the more champions, the better. Know that the breeding of two champions together does not mean that the puppies will be superior in quality - the parents must compliment each other to breed away faults - no dog is without faults, even champions. 

Another form of Hype is the Imperial Shih Tzu (link). They are over-priced runts and you better save your money if you intend to buy one of those. There is a reason they are so small, and it is not usually a good one!!!!! It is a much sounder investment to purchase a solid, healthy dog from someone who does not support hype and makes sound judgements when considering breeding stock. Our breed standard calls for a sturdy dog with a weight of 9-16 pounds. 

A quick note....designer dogs: like maltipoos, teddy bears, yorkiepoos, cockapoos, puggles, labradoodles, etc, They are just over-priced mutts. Sure, they may have purebred parents (of different breeds), but as I said before, purebred does not mean quality. Different breeds often carry the same possible faults and breeding two different breeds together to eliminate those things is a MYTH.  (Click here for the link to Designer Mutts)

They make all kinds of excuses as to why they take two purebred animals of different breeds and breed them together. It is simply wrong. They are destroying what good breeders have been trying to accomplish for hundreds of years - pure breed traits that differentiate one breed from another. I think it shows those folks disrespect for their hard work. We do not support this type of breeding practice in any shape or form and will not give referrals to anyone who engages in this ugly practice. 

The only true designer dog is a well-bred shih tzu (breeding carefully "designed" by a responsible breeder) in full, flowing coat gliding around the show ring in the hands of a skilled exhibitor. Breathtaking.....

Please see the following ASTC links: Internet Dog SalesPet ShopsDesigner DogsImperial Shih Tzu.


You loved me all your life..... 
and I shall miss you for the rest of mine! 
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