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In Memory of Wilbur

In Memory of Wilbur, April, 2000

Wilbur When LABMED was contacted about Wilbur, he was in a shelter in Holland, MI and his time was running out. Wilbur had been a stray and since he was an older dog, 8-10 years old, he did not get adopted. His rescuer contacted LABMED for help with his more obvious problems: he had wart-like growths around his eyes and she thought he may have hip dysplasia. She had already adopted a senior Lab two years ago and with lots of love and some medication managed to get him healthy and happy again. She felt that was possible for Wilbur as well.

She then took Wilbur to her vet for evaluation. The poor old guy was in sad shape indeed: he had double ear infections, nasal discharge and a urinary tract infection. He was put on antibiotics for those immediately. Wilbur was also severely malnourished and had whipworms. The wart-like growths over one eye needed to be removed and he had entropion, a condition where the eyelids curl in and the lashes rub against the cornea, that also needed surgical intervention. The vet thought that he did have hip dysplasia and arthritis in one hip; this could be taken care of with medication, surgery would be a long way off if needed at all. And he was heartworm positive which had also caused damage to one of his lungs!

Before any kind of treatment could be started, Wilbur needed to have blood tests to make sure he could tolerate the anesthesia and the heartworm medication. Then, after 8 days at the clinic, Wilbur went to his foster home to recuperate in his rescuer's care. He was very tired but looked much better already and was doing well. But it was just not meant to be, Wilbur died 4 days later.

For Wilbur the help of his caring rescuer and vet, who treated him at cost, came too late. He had just been neglected for too long by previous owners and apparently his body could not keep up with his spirit any more. Through all this, Wilbur was friendly, well mannered and always had a wag of his tail for anybody he met.

Even with the sad outcome of Wilbur's case, we at LABMED are glad we were able to give him that chance at a better life he needed and happy his final days were spent in a home where he was loved and cherished.

The vet who treated Wilbur offered to do an autopsy and also paid to have Wilbur put to rest at a pet cemetery. He had come to love the old dog as much as Wilbur's rescuer. The autopsy showed that Wilbur had suffered a pulmonary embolism, the vet stated that Wilbur had the worst case of heartworm he had seen in a long time; there were dozens of worms in the heart and Wilbur must have suffered from the condition for quite some time. The report goes on to say: "there was also evidence of some type of allergic reaction occurring at the same time which may have thrown him into a condition called DIC or disseminated intravascular coagulation which could lead to acute death."

Wilbur more than likely died due to complications of the heartworm infestation, a condition that is easily prevented with monthly medication. For more information, see the story of another old chocolate Lab, Colby.

Colby was never treated because she had other medical problems that prevented her rescuers from getting her the help she needed. Wilbur seemed to be in good enough condition but it was just too much for his old body, he died May 8, 2000.

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