Semper Fidelis Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Striving for correct, healthy, performance-driven, versatility

Siege's Story

Siege did not start his life with me here. Siege's first life began in Texas. He was very bonded with his owner Stephanie Ernst. Several months after Siege went home to live with Stephanie, she received the news that she had cancer. She fought for her life for over a year, but in August of 2010, she lost her battle. She loved Siege so much, and she wanted the best for him. She spent lots of time in training classes with him as a puppy, and socialized him with everyone and everything. Siege had an exceptional start to life and a rock solid foundation. In September of 2010, I drove to Nashville, to meet another owner who had transported Siege from Texas.

Siege is a sweet sensitive soul and very in tune to what is going on around him. He and I have completed several handling classes, a gateway obedience class and even a fundamental agility class. He thrives in class and is very attentive and willing to work for me. He is very comfortable, and has even been known to nap on the floor between lessons. He started winning in the ring at his very first show, and continues to shine no matter what we do. Siege is an absolute pleasure to have around and has adapted well to my lifestyle.

 

Siege loves every single person he meets and has a rock solid temperament in any environment. He is extremely well behaved around children of all ages and seems to understand that he must be cautious around little ones. I knew he had retained his socialization when walking past the firehouse in town, and an engine came out of the firehouse past us. I asked him to sit, which he did and quietly watched as it screamed with sirens blaring by us.

 

 Siege is what I think of when I read the breed standard. He is masculine and powerful and he moves with complete elegance. He's got his daddy Apollo's fluid movement and bone, and Momma Calypso's color, pretty head, and solid structure. He has a great attitude in the ring, and is always ready to go.



Siege is a very easy laid back boy. He is lower energy, but still wants to be included. He is very affectionate but not overwhelmingly so. He is just a great dog.


Lymphoma...



In January of 2016, Siege began drinking a lot of water and urinating excessively. At first I attributed the change to the weather, as we had a really warm December (70 degrees) and thought he was dry from the temperature drop. I watched him for a couple days and became a bit more concerned when things didn't seem to level out. We went to the vet to have a urinalysis, CBC and a Chem panel run. I figured he had a UTI or some bladder stones. The urinalysis came back the next day and it was clean. The lab reported the CBC results later the second day but held up the Chem panel. The CBC showed an extremely low platelet count. The vet asked us to check for lesions either on his belly or in his mouth, of which he had neither. The Chem panel came back later the third day as the lab ran it a couple time to make sure. The Chem panel showed extremely high calcium. Our vet and the lab went back and forth a couple of times, but the diagnosis was lymphoma.


I did my due diligence with research to discover there is no cure for canine lymphoma. Treatment is invasive (removal of a tumor and biopsy) and ongoing for several months. It is also one of the most common cancers that vets see in Ridgebacks. I took Siege back to the vet for a detailed exam and an X-ray to see if we could find the tumor. We would have to schedule an ultrasound for later to see inside the abdomen. I decided I would not treat him for cancer. I felt it was cruel and unfair as he would not understand what was happening. I would keep him comfortable for as long as possible. 

I installed a dog door so that he could go out and potty when we were away and at night. I made a few changes to his diet and provided him supportive care. He went down hill very quickly. He was absolutely exhausted all of the time. He no longer wanted to play with our other RR. He was drinking about a gallon of water at night, another gallon during the day and whatever he could from the bowl in the kitchen when we were home. He got to the point where he began to refuse parts of his food (very unlike him).

On Thursday, January 28th I noticed he had begun having trouble breathing. His breathing was labored while he was at rest. The next day, Friday I did not go to work. I took Siege to Petsmart to see how he really was. He lumbered down the aisles and didn't really pay attention to any other dog or human. We got back into the truck and went to a park where there is a wooded fishing area that is closed during the winter. I opened the truck door and he didn't want to get out. I asked him to get out and he finally did, under his own power. We walked about 300 yards. He did not wander, did not go to sniff around or pee on any trees. He was not there. We turned around to get back into the truck. When I pulled out of the park, it began to snow hard, the wind blowing it sideways over the hood of my truck. I knew it was time.

I took him home and he immediately went to the water bowl and then to his bed. After he fell into a deep sleep, I took his heart rate (which was elevated), his respiration (also elevated), and his temperature (he had a high fever). His body was dying. I knew that I did not want to see him suffer, nor did I want to come home to a dead or seizing dog. I did not want him to die alone, scared, without me there. I also did not want my other dog to be traumatized by his death. I called the vet to make his last appointment. 

On Saturday afternoon, January 30th, my good friend Deb arrived at our house, with a dozen peach roses. We loaded Siege and Ember into the truck and left for the vet. We were the last appointment of the day so most other dogs were already cleared out of the lobby. Deb and I took Siege back to the room they directed us to. We laid his bed on the table. He immediately laid down. He was so exhausted he could barely keep his eyes open. He did not raise his head, try to get down from the table or sniff around. He wanted to sleep.

The vet came in and gave Siege the lethal drug. He just went to sleep. No fighting it, no convulsions, just sleep. We cried over him as he left. We stayed with his body for several minutes. He was still warm and he still smelled like my dog. My friend Deb had brought one of the roses and she tucked it under a front paw. We removed his collar and leash. He was gone. I asked Deb to retrieve Ember from the truck. I felt it was important that Ember at least see that he was not there. Ember came in and briefly sniffed at him. She sat down facing away from him and did not move. I had never seen this behavior in her before. I let her sit for a few minutes for things to sink in, then took her back to the truck. After awhile, we were finally ready to go. We left him in the final care of the staff at our vet. He came home in an urn ten days later.


                                                                                                           Deb and Siege.