29.09.2013 - 13.10.2013
After our adventures in Port St Joe and Boston, Eddie was a very sick boy for several weeks. On the night he arrived in America way back in March 2013, he became very sick overnight and after an expensive trip to the vet first thing the next morning, we discovered he had a severe case of Megaesophagus and Aspiration Pneumonia (meaning he had inhaled food whilst regurgitating). This was the first we knew of this rare illness and as far as all the further tests would show, it was idiopathic. From Wikipedia, "Megaesophagus (also known as ME or MegaE) is a condition in humans, cats and dogs where peristalsis fails to occur properly and the esophagus is enlarged. Normally, when the animal's esophagus is functioning properly, it acts as a muscle and pushes the food down the esophagus into the stomach. However, when an animal has megaesophagus, the esophagus stays enlarged and does not push the food down to the stomach. Therefore, the food fails to enter the stomach and often stays in the esophagus, and is eventually regurgitated, or enters the lungs through breathing, or decays in the esophagus."
After our 2 weeks away, Eddie was again diagnosed with AP and again, it took him several weeks to recover. He had lost almost 7 kgs (15 lbs) in two weeks, his ME had also become much worse and he had begun to regurgitate on his own saliva. Our beautiful, otherwise healthy dog had begun to slip away from us and we were determined to keep him with us and as happy as possible for as long as possible. This involved a lot of around the clock care and some new items to help us all. The first new item we acquired was a Neck Hug to elevate his head whilst he was lying down. The second was a Bailey Chair, lovingly handmade by the inspirational Susan and her husband from Bailey Chairs 4 Dogs. Susan is a multiple cancer survivor who donates all of her spare time to helping others battle this horrible disease. A Bailey Chair is used to keep the animal elevated when eating, drinking and resting whilst the food journeys down to the stomach using gravity instead of the damaged esophagus. Eddie never did work out how to back up into the chair and occasionally, he managed to jump out but eventually, we managed to get his weight back up to his normal healthy weight of around 30 kgs (66 lbs).
To give you an idea of just how big this chair is, here is our Quality Control Officer.
During this period of recuperation, Poppy arrived for a visit! We weren't able to get out as much as we would have liked but we were still able to manage a few local adventures. The first was to a Jacksonville Jaguars game where we saw our first decent half time performance from a marching band (dedicated to the Armed Forces). The mascot, Jaxon De Ville, also backflipped into the stadium from atop a stadium lightpole!
Army (a tank)
Navy (a submarine)
Air Force (an aircraft). Unfortunately, I missed the Marine Corps tribute
Next up was a trip to the Jacksonville Zoo where we fed stingrays, patted pygmy goats, rode the carousel and fed the parrots.
We also visited St Augustine and the Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park to visit the original site of the nation's oldest city. The site itself has many interesting things to do and we spent a fair amount of time learning about the history of the area. Unfortunately though, we must have sampled a dodgy batch of water from the Fountain of Youth as we do not feel any younger! The water from the spring that we sampled was estimated to be over 200 years old and had a strong sulphur smell and taste to it. We were also treated to a live cannon firing and we were able to also see inside some traditional huts and see some original jewellery carvings.
A Tampa Bay Rays game was also on the agenda whilst Poppy was visiting. The Rays were playing a postseason playoff series of 5 games against the Boston Red Sox to determine who would go on to play in the League Championship Series. The Red Sox won the series and then went on to win the World Series Championship. On the night we went to watch though, the atmosphere was electric, the Rays won and the dome glowed orange. The next morning we visited the Great Explorations Children's Museum and Carys ran around and played to her heart's content.
Before Poppy went home to Australia, he indulged himself with a little cruise to the Bahamas. He had a fantastic time and although we missed him, we filled our time with a birthday party for one of our Little Gym friends and of course, looking after Eddie. We also did some more art and craft with Poppy and redecorated the drive way before bidding him farewell.