January 14, 2006:  A letter to Buddy
Hi Buddy!
Thanks for writing to me. It's been 6 weeks now since my surgery!  I am so happy to tell you that I've gained weight from 4 lb 12 oz. to 5 lb 8 oz. since my surgery.  My foster mom is thrilled and says I don't have the look of pain anymore after eating. It's hard to describe, but she knew by looking at my little face that I was in pain.  I go back for more testing in a few weeks to see if the shunt was fixed, although I believe in my heart that I know the answer already.  :) I'm sooooo glad you are feeling so good, little guy.  You keep up the good work! 
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Sophie came into rescue on September 28, 2005, from the Animal Shelter in Bloomington IL. In her short 2 year life she had been in 2 homes and this time was surrendered because of the other dogs in the home. Sophie was very thin, she weighed only 4 pounds, and we suspected she had a liver shunt.  She was seen at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital on November 8th and the diagnosis was confirmed. She had significantly eleveted bile acids with a portosystemic shunt. This is a situation where the circulating blood  bypasses the liver. Without treatment Sophie could develop seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, diminished appetite and an early death.

Sophie has endeared herself to all who have met her. She is a playfull little girl who is full of 2 year old energy. She loves squeaky toys and learns quickly from her foster brothers and sister. She is smart, alert and sweet, and her favorite napping position is across the shoulders and throat of her foster mom.

Sophie is scheduled for surgery after Thanksgiving. 

November 30, 2005: Sophie had surgery this morning.
December 1, 2005:  Sophie is going home today!

Sophie had her successful surgery on November 30, 2005.  She came through with flying colors. The vet found the shunt to be located on the outside of her liver which made the surgery much easier. They where able to use a ring to slowly close off the shunt which is the safest procedure to use in this type of surgery. Sophie was doing so well after just 24 hours she was sent home to recover with her wonderful foster Mom. We will update you in a few weeks again to let you know how well Sophie is doing.  Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers for this little sweetheart.
Mary Palmer, President
Northcentral Maltese Rescue, Inc. 
February 11, 2006
Thank you to everyone who donated money for Sophie's liver shunt surgery!  It's because of caring people like you who make it possible for these little dogs to have a chance of a healthy and happy life.  Sophie and I both thank you for your generous donation!
Suzi G.
February 2, 2006 Update
Suzi, Sophie's foster mom wrote:
Sophie went back to the University of Illinois today for her follow up liver shunt testing and.....(drum roll, please).....HER SURGERY WAS SUCCESSFUL!!!  No more liver shunt!!!  Sophie's recheck only included the nuclear scintigraphy (radioactive dye test) not the bile acid test.  The test showed that she didn't have any shunting.  They said over a 4-6 week period of time, she can slowly be introduced to regular dog food.  The vet did say that the ameroid constrictor (ring) could cause shunting in the future, but for now, she is fine.  She will always have to be monitored for signs of shunting and if that occurs, she will need to be switched back to her special dog food.
I'll share a secret with you.  When I dropped Sophie off for her surgery back in November, I promised her that if she came back to me (that's how worried I was about the risks), I would give her my last name.  :)  It's not official yet, but it's in the works.  I guess not many of you are surprised, huh?!