Cymbeline Fallon By Hooley
KC Registration No: AC01574602
Hereditarily Clear of PRA (rcd-1) & CLAD
Eyes Examined under the BVA/KC/ISDS Scheme & Tested Clear
Lopra rcd4 – CLEAR
Sire: Twoacres Fergus
Dam: Timadon Miss Irresistable
Breeder: Mr B. P. McAvoy
Owner: Miss M. A. Webster
‘My Heart’s Delight’
Geordie came to join our family in the summer of 2002. He was both unplanned and unexpected. Of course I knew about his litter, as Fergus had sired it! However, circumstances were such that I just knew it was impossible for me to have any more Irish Setters. So when I set off for Northumbria to see the litter when they were four weeks old, I did so knowing that I wasn’t having one and therefore wouldn’t have to make the impossible decision about which one to choose! However, fate had other ideas. Once I’d seen the puppies I just knew that I had to have one. I was so unprepared and only two days after deciding that I could have one, he came home to stay, so getting things ready for his arrival became a mad scramble.
Geordie is the spitting image of his Father, Fergus, but is nothing like him in personality. Somehow I expected him to be quiet and well-behaved, but he is more like his Great Uncle Flynn, in that he is full of Irish devilment and keeps us in stitches with his antics. Taking him to ring craft training was a nightmare and I dreaded it every week, because I never quite knew what new embarrassment he would cause me. At one point I actually ended up on the floor, flat on my face…….and I was only trying to stand him! This was certainly a measure of things to come.
It is rather disconcerting when something so angelic is actually so naughty. But his face is his saving grace. One look into that angelic face, my heart melts and he gets away with murder. His other endearing quality, is that he is very much a ‘talker’, like his daddy. He is extremely vocal every time he sees anyone, being so without barking, all the while, lashing his tail like mad.
Thankfully, as he has matured, he has calmed down considerably, becoming much easier to handle, though watching from the ringside you probably wouldn’t think it! Very slowly he became more obedient. Everything took him much longer to learn than any of the other dogs I’d had; certainly not through lack of intelligence, but purely because Geordie was so strong willed and just wanted to please himself and no one else. Encouraging him to want to please me more than himself took a considerable amount of effort, which eventually proved worthwhile. So I was delighted and proud when he attained his Kennel Club Good Citizen Bronze Award, at the age of only 6 months. He qualified for Crufts at his second Ch Show, much to my delight, though I am still unsure how he managed to do so, when he spent most of the time on his back with his legs in the air! He has only been lightly shown due to other committments, but has still managed to win the odd first place and RBOB. He is very busy at home, however, running rings round everyone else.
‘Fallon’ is Gaelic for ‘Leader’ and he is certainly that here. As the saying goes; “He just walked in and took over”. And everyone else let him!!
Tuesday 21st February 2012 began just like any other day, there was no indication of what was to come. As usual I got up just before 7 am and gave Geordie his first lot of Epilepsy medication. There was nothing different or unusual about him, or his behaviour, so I had no reason to think that things would alter as dramatically as they did.
Just before 8 am Geordie began to fit without any warning. He had begun having fits, caused by Idiopathic Epilepsy when he was 18 months old, so I was well tuned to the warning signs and usually knew that a fit was imminent. This time however, I was completely taken unawares. By 8.15 am Geordie had had another fit, two in total, but neither were bad fits nor lasted very long and he seemed to recover very quickly. Normally when he had a cluster fit like this and it was obvious that he would continue fitting, he would have to be admitted to the vets to stop it. There is only so much medication that I as an owner am allowed to give him and when this doesn’t work then the next option is to admit him and have stronger drugs administered via a drip.
The two fits left him very tired, but he didn’t seem as if he would have any more, so I let him sleep. When he woke up he seemed normal, bright and alert so I breathed a sigh of relief, fed him and let him down the garden. When he came in he lay down at my Mother’s feet and suddenly, again without warning and almost four hours after his last fit, he had another one. Again it wasn’t bad and but lasted longer. I could tell from looking at him that there would be more to come, so I phoned the vet to say we were on our way. As I pulled into the car park Geordie was in the throws of another fit in the back of the car. As soon as we were able to move him, he was taken in and admitted.
The signs were good as he didn’t fit again for more than 24 hours and then it was so quick the vet wasn’t concerned. Whenever this happens my vet keeps him in until he has been fit free for at least 24 hours and to make sure that he is well enough to come home. He seemed to be making progress that day, but was very tired after the fits. This wasn’t unusual so no one was worried, the cluster hadn’t given Geordie any side effects such as loss of movement, or hyper activity, he was just very tired.
When I phoned the next morning, I was concerned to be told that he’d had two small fits in the night and didn’t want to eat. One thing that Geordie never did was to refuse his food, so the fact that he wasn’t eating worried me. A few hours later at lunch time, he seemed to be making progress, albeit very slight and he had eaten a small amount of food. I was less worried, thinking that although he was making slow progress, it was still progress, so he was going in the right direction and I knew from experience that recovery from some cluster fits could take longer than others.
A few hours later at 9 pm on 23rd February, my life changed in an instant. The phone rang and as soon as I heard my vet’s voice I knew instinctively that the news would be dire. He wouldn’t have phoned me otherwise. The half hour drive to the surgery seemed to take forever and was the worst journey I’ve ever had to make, especially knowing what I was facing when I got there. Geordie was comatose, but obviously in distress. His breathing was very rapid and it was heartbreaking to see him like that. Having been told only a few hours earlier that Geordie was recovering and making progress, it was a tremendous shock to see him so ill and hear my vet say that he had suddenly deteriorated just before he phoned me. He explained that he had tried everything at their disposal to help him, but nothing had worked and he felt that it was time to let Geordie go. Having come back from the brink so many times, there was a part of me that thought he could do so again. I hoped so much that my vet was wrong, but in my heart I knew this couldn’t be and very reluctantly made the only decision I could, the worst decision for me, but the best decision for Geordie.
Geordie didn’t die because of his Epilepsy, but because of an indirect result of it. His body had literally had enough and he had developed Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC). This is when the blood spontaneously begins to clot in the veins, causing them to block and effectively stopping the oxygen getting through to the major organs, which then begin to fail. If left long enough, the clotting stops and the veins haemorrhage all over the body, causing a truly horrendous death. I didn’t want Geordie to suffer a second longer than he had to and so, although distraught to have to let him go, I was grateful that my vet had acted swiftly and minimised his suffering.
Many who know his story may think that as an Epileptic, Geordie was fitting frequently, this was not the case. During the last twelve months of his life, Geordie only had three cluster fits. I always said that he had to have a quality of life. I didn’t want him drugged so much that he spent his days in a zombie like state just to stabilize the fits. With the help of my vet and the wonderful consultants in the Neurology department at the AHT we managed to achieve a drug regime for him that stabilized the fits, making them less frequent, whilst still enabling him to have a quality of life, living it to the full. When he died he was just 17 days short of his tenth birthday and the youngest Irish Setter I have ever lost. But as an Epileptic, he did incredibly well to live as long as he did and to have the quality of life that he did. I know that I did the very best that I could for him, but I also know that because I was always open about the problems he had and shared his story, there are now other Epileptic Irish Setters who, having adopted the same drug regime as Geordie, are now still alive and leading quality lives. They were on the verge of being put to sleep because their condition was so bad and they were not responding to the drugs they were given. I am proud to think that by being so open, Geordie has helped to improve the lives of others, this is his legacy.
When Geordie came into my life, he was a very lively, promising puppy. Like the others at Hooley, he quickly qualified for Crufts, winning BOB’s & RBOB’s during his short show career. I stopped showing to care for him and make sure that he had a good quality of life, devoting myself to his every need for the next eight years. He repaid me tenfold. He had a wonderful temperament, loved everyone and everything, never had a bad bone in his body and loved life with a passion as only an Irish Setter can.
Geordie was the only Irish Setter that I had at this time. This is the first time for 32 years that I have been without an Irish, so the house is dreadfully quiet and empty. Everyone who met him fell in love with him, not only was he stunning to look at, he was also a gentleman and such a character. As I held Geordie in my arms for the last time, stroked him gently and spoke softly to him to say my goodbyes, he calmed immediately, opened his eyes and looked straight into mine. Farewell my darling.