This is a true story about the life and death of my dog Sophia. Sophia was found on the streets in Artesia, New Mexico when she was about two years old. She had at least one litter of puppies while living on the streets but that is all anyone knew about her. She was taken in by a small rescue group where she lived for four years.
In 2012, when Sophia was six years old, the rescue organization dissolved and all the dogs suddenly needed homes. I was living outside of Los Alamos, NM that year with my dog Henry and lots of open space. I agreed to foster Sophia until we could find her a permanent home.
Sophia had been in and out of foster homes for four years. No one kept her for more than a month. She was an anxious dog, who paced and scratched at herself when she was nervous. She could be aggressive with other female dogs and she was terrified of thunderstorms. The mellow nature of my other dog Henry, a change in diet and daily exercise gave Sophia a new, calmer approach to life.
Needless to say, I kept her. Life changed and we ended up in Portland, Maine in 2014. While in Maine, Sophia discovered a love of swimming, found a best friend and learned how to play and basked in the sun as much as the weather in Maine would allow.
Physically Sophia was a tough, albeit rickety dog. She had many scars on her face – some from fights with other dogs and some from pushing her way through the prickly underbrush. I hardly ever heard her cry in pain even though she always hobbled a bit when she walked, likely from arthritis. She had horrible teeth and bad breath that often smelled of Sulphur and as I mentioned before she was terrified of thunderstorms.
In May 2018 Sophia started coughing in the morning and after lying still for long periods. In June, an x-ray of her chest showed multiple tumors in both lungs. Primary lung cancer in dogs is very rare and given that she had never been around cigarette smoke or other toxic chemicals, it was likely that this was a metastasis.
Around the time of the x-ray, Sophia started dragging her front left foot at the end of our walks. The foot-dragging progressed until eventually, she could not use her left side at all.
I did not have an MRI done of her brain but it seemed pretty obvious to me that she had a primary brain tumor that had metastasized to her lungs. I knew she was dying and I knew my only job was to love her and make her as comfortable as possible. And then, a week before she died she developed intense, unremitting anxiety/fear that came on every evening between 7:30 and 8pm.
I knew homeopathy could help so I started looking for the right remedy. I gave her Phosphorous, Camphor and Tarentula with only mild, brief improvement after Tarentula. I gave her 8-10 other remedies with little to no improvement.
We ended up at the emergency vet at midnight because she was panting nonstop with a look of terror in her eyes. They gave me prednisone and tramadol neither of which helped. I have her 1,200mg of Valerian and she was able to sleep through the night but the anxiety/fear returned at 7:30pm the next day.
After three nights of fearful anxiety and three trips to the vet I sat back down and started over. I knew I was missing something so I took a wider view of Sophia as a whole animal, not just this new anxiety, and this is what I found:
Anxiety every day at the same time – EXACT periodicity
Burps that smelled like Sulphur
Fear of thunderstorms with restlessness (pacing)
All of these things pointed to homeopathic Mercury. I gave her a single dose of Mercury 200C (because that is what I had on hand) and within 10 seconds she laid down and went to sleep. She did not have another anxiety attack before she died.
Looking back at Sophia’s life she probably always needed Mercury. She had weak teeth, bad breath and was always hypervigilant around other dogs (ie. paranoia). She had arthritis and always walked with a slight limp. She was terrified of thunderstorms and would start trembling, pacing and panting long before we humans could even here the storm. Mercury is also a Syphilitic remedy with an affinity for the brain, joints, bones and teeth.
Given how common brain cancer is in dogs, I wonder how many other dogs out there might benefit from homeopathic mercury. I don’t know what would have happened if I had given Sophia that remedy earlier in life but I am thankful that it eased her fear and allowed her to die comfortably.