Vicktory dog Lucas' babesia and medical challenges

Lucas the Vicktory dog has babesia and has had some other medical challenges. He recently had exploratory surgery, and is feeling much better now.
By David Dickson

As most fans of Lucas the Vicktory dog probably know by now, he went through a medical setback not long ago. Lucas came to Best Friends with a condition called babesia, which is a blood parasite that can be passed from dog to dog through deep puncture wounds. Given the life he was once forced to live, it’s no surprise he ended up with the parasite.

Babesia and other medical issues for Lucas the Vicktory dog

The symptoms of babesia can usually be managed with medication, yet side effects can still flare up when you least expect. By way of background, Lucas has been treated for anemia (one of the side effects of babesia) ever since setting foot on the Sanctuary. Recently, sad to say, the anemia took a turn for the worse.

During Lucas’s checkup after the babesia flare, the medical team at Best Friends found additional problems to worry over: Several masses showed up in his ultrasound. In the end, they decided exploratory surgery was necessary, during which they took biopsies of his liver and spleen. Here, however, Lucas caught a lucky break. The results came back as not cancerous.

During the illness, his energy level dropped noticeably. For the first time, those who knew and loved him saw Lucas acting not quite himself. We’re talking about a dog who does a happy dance nearly any time a visitor drops by. He has dazzled cameras, visitors, caregivers and more with his thousand-dollar grin ever since arriving at the Sanctuary. When a guy like that starts lying around more often than usual, it’s easy to notice.

Lucas and his dog friends

Well … he’s feeling like himself again! And boy, are his friends glad to see him.

Lucas lives as the only dog in his run, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make friends with the neighbors. After staying away from his play area for several weeks, he had quite the enthusiastic greeting when he showed up again. His next-door neighbor Lilly saw Lucas and started immediately doing play bows and zooms back and forth from the other side of the fence. Lucas responded with zooms and play bows of his own. "He’s back to his old self," says caregiver Angie Searcy.

The rest of the dogs near his play area also gave Lucas a huge neighborhood welcome-home party. Chow Baby, who hardly ever barks, couldn’t contain his excitement at having Lucas back, and soon started chatting up a storm. So did the others. They were all thrilled to have their neighborhood celebrity back. And Lucas, who has returned to his routine of walks, golf cart rides and office visits, couldn’t be happier doing all his favorite things again.

Keeping a close eye on Lucas

At a recent follow-up exam, Best Friends veterinarian Dr. Patti Iampietro said, "He looked very good on his exam and has fully recovered from his surgery." Lucas’s red blood cell count seems to be dropping again, however, which Dr. Patti will be watching closely. "Perhaps the stress of the surgery promoted another flare-up of the babesia," she explains. He’ll be under close observation, and will receive treatment as needed.

Pampering and doting

As far as all outward signs are concerned, Lucas looks to be feeling a hundred times better. Throughout the whole ordeal, though, he might have picked up one teensy bit of a bad habit. When he returned to his play area, Lucas noticed one of the other dogs nearby receiving what he took to be special treatment. This dog is quite sick, sad to say, and has reached a point where she won’t eat unless her caregivers sit down next to her and feed her by hand.

Yeah, so, um … Lucas took that to mean he should no longer be required to eat unless he’s spoon-fed! Yes, really. "He’s playing it up the best he can," adds Angie.

Best Friends executive assistant Brenda Escher has become one of the people who feeds him like this when he’s on his day trips as an office dog. She doesn’t mind pampering Lucas in the least. "That’s okay," she says, "we do it for our boy."

Brenda remembers all too well when Lucas’s health dipped, and when he wasn’t acting his normal joyful self. She’s thrilled to see him back at his playful antics, and describes how happy everybody else is to have him around as well.

"It’s like he didn’t go through any surgery at all," she says.

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