Category Archives: Pets and Vets

Brutal

It stormed the other night. Mini hurricane near the Illiana border (which is not a hurricane area, being in the midwest and not really that close to Lake Michigan). It was terrifying driving through it. But I got home, took several deep breaths in the garage, sincerely thankful to be alive and home, and went inside. Suni didn’t come out to greet me and I panicked. Found her set up in my son’s room. He said she’d been cowering in the corner of his room from the storm. Of course I had removed her thunder shirt a couple days before as the wound on her side finally- after a month- healed up. It helps a lot with storms.

But she wouldn’t eat dinner. Normally this is normal for her, but all her pain medication is in the chunks of canned food, so I sat down and fed her from my hands.

It brought up a powerful de ja vu, where I bent my head to hers and asked if she remembered, that we’d done this before? And it was so hard to not break. So I picked up her dry food and continued to hand feed her, like I’d done long ago, and she wagged her tail and ate what I offered, like she’d done back then as well.

She was four months old when I brought her home from work. She’d finally gotten over a horrible case of parvo. I thought for sure we would lose her. She also succumbed to mange really bad and had lost all her hair and a couple layers of skin. She looked like a little piglet! After I brought her home, she broke out in ringworm. We all got it- myself, the boys, the other dogs.

I hate ringworm.

But I owned my house, had children and stepchildren and other dogs to properly socialize her and prove that pits were good dogs, and mostly, I lived outside Denver, which had passed a pit bull ban a couple weeks earlier. I wasn’t going to keep her. I already had two dogs, I did not want a puppy, and terriers are not my preferred breed.

Four months old, and she was smart! She knew how to get to me- through my three year old son whom she attached herself to (he’s still, at 14, her favorite person), and my shepherd, who was my second in command and absolute top dog in the house. She far outranked the husband, too.

Even so, I couldn’t handle three dogs. Suni got better, and my coworkers introduced me to the adult daughter of a long-time client who was interested in adopting her. It sounded solid, they vouched for her, Suni seemed ok with her, and I couldn’t find a reason to say no.

At the end of that week, the woman called me on my cell phone to tell me that something was wrong with Suni. Her boyfriend had poisoned her. I told her to meet me at the clinic and dropped all my shopping and ran. I brought the woman back into surgery with me where I triaged Suni and put in a catheter while waiting for my boss to arrive. The more the woman talked, the more I started to listen. She kept going on and on about this crazy ex-boyfriend, and I yelled at her. I’d very clearly stated that Suni was not a guard dog at our initial meet. She then went into other very concerning things regarding her grandchildren, and then repeated how scared she was to return home, sure this boyfriend would be waiting for her. By then, I needed her gone. I convinced her to go to the police and they’d keep her safe.

I brought Suni home and had her set up in my kitchen on IVs. We weren’t sure what she was given, though the woman had mentioned vicodin a couple times. Later that night, a detective called me on my cell. Small world, we knew each other, as he and his wife had brought in an orphaned kitten a few months prior that I had bottle fed and adopted out. But he told me that the department was pretty knowledgeable about this woman as there’d been issues in the past, and that she was the one to poison Suni.

Suni was terrified of her food bowls for a week and wouldn’t go near them. What the hell did that woman do? I don’t know. But I sat on the floor and fed her by hand for that whole week. After that phone call, the first time I fed her, I’d looked at her and promised ‘That’s it, you’re mine. You aren’t going anywhere again.’

She has been such a good dog. Suni, (also-spelled-as ‘sunny’, but I rarely do things normal) because that’s always been her demeanor, from a two-month old pupy who spent over a month in my clinic fighting to live, while we did everything in our power to keep her from her original owner (in which we obviously succeeded- though not for her three siblings or the other dogs he brought in later) to now. Life is good, even when it hasn’t been. She can’t use her leg now, but she’s still running and she’s still wagging her tail and rushing to greet me when I come home. Twelve years later, and she’s the only dog I have left. And we’re heading back to how we started.

 

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2017 is heading in a bad direction.

2016 didn’t end much better.

For the pets in my family.

My sister was supposed to fly in for a visit in November, when her 6 year old cat suddenly crashed. The diagnosis turned out to be colon cancer. Oddly enough, this is what our grandmother died of. Weiwei died just a couple of weeks ago. Only six years old.

In December, my cousin began texting me that her dog (also around 6 I believe) had suddenly gone paralyzed. She took Coco to the neurologist, who ended up needing spinal surgery!…..a couple days after my cousin’s father was hospitalized for back surgery! But Coco (and her people!) recovered quickly and without incident 🙂

And now it’s my house’s turn. A couple of days after Christmas, my 15 year old pit started limping, and my whole being plummeted. I knew that it wasn’t an injury, and given her age, I was terrified with the alternative: cancer. It goes with her history in a way. Every time I’m prepared to take her in for a dental, she blows a leg. She’s had cruciate surgery in both knees already. I thought we were safe this time. But no. Front leg.

As I no longer work in a veterinary clinic, and as I recently moved to this area, I had to figure out how to find a veterinarian. That sucks. It really does. I do not like being on this end of things. The vet we went to took X-Rays, but wasn’t sure. I was able to have them emailed to me, and showed them to veterinarian colleagues, who both suspect cancer as well. I haven’t told my children yet, and she and I are going to another vet on Tuesday. Over a month on pain medicine, and her limp has increased. And I’m afraid.

suni taking a break

I’ve already been watching my eighteen year old cat like a hawk since last summer, when I was sure she’d go. Several masses sprouted up on her, and then they opened. She no longer looks like the picture below, which was only two years ago. Only two years! Seeing how much she’s changed is very disheartening. She no longer grooms herself, and has lost half her weight by the looks of this picture. I wasn’t prepared for that.

Masses on cats are bad. Talking my sister through things was very personal, as I was silently going through the same decisions with my own cat: when is it enough? When is it clear that their death is going to be a long time coming, and that their pain is only growing; when do we know to say that it’s time? I had it planned, her humane endpoint, but now I’m forced to rethink it, and make myself be a tech and not her person, and rely on what my intuition is trying to tell me. And so she has a vet appointment as well now. An ‘I don’t know what to do’ appointment. I sought out some familiar comfort by finding a cat’s-only clinic, even though it’s across the border in Illinois (it’s not that big a drive). How are there no cat clinics in Indiana? I so miss my Colorado people right now.

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I have dealt with this in my career for the last 18 years, and yet to face it personally, all I can think is indecision. And fear. Lots of fear.

Sampson

I came home from my work’s Christmas party last night with this……anxiety attack. Something was wrong. I went through the events of the day, trying to figure out what I’d done. I couldn’t find anything, but I knew, something was wrong. ‘Knew’. I went to the living room at midnight to maybe watch some TV, maybe calm down some. I turned on the light and looked immediately to the bird cage. But he was covered up for the night. #2 did so before he went to bed, so if something was wrong with Sampson, he’d have noticed. I had the urge to check on him, but waking him up has diastrous consequences, so I left him alone, watched TV.

I went to bed, and talked myself through it: Everything is fine. Nothing happened, I didn’t make a fool of myself at the party, I won that bingo game fairly, I didn’t forget anything, this is an illogical feeling.

I had plans of going to my Writers’ Group meeting this morning. It was our Holiday party too. Had to get up early, wake the boys, buy some food to bring, get myself some tea, and make the hour drive down. I was going to make a day of it: drag the monsters with me, force them to entertain themselves for a couple hours in the library until my meeting ended, then we’d go out for lunch, get their hair cut, do some shopping.

Getting out of bed was so odd. I was tired, and shaky, and felt off. I debated for an hour, then decided not to go after all. Then changed my mind again. It’s just me being poopy. Again. Get out of bed. I asked #2 to feed him while I brushed my teeth, and then within five minutes, he came running to the bathroom and just stood there for abit before finally speaking. Sampson’s dead. 

I heard the words, but couldn’t make sense of it. Dead? Why would he say ‘dead’? That’s preposterous. Maybe he means something else. Someone else.

Then it hit me, and I ran out, and it was true. And the feeling of wrongness settled away.

He was further along than just second-hand when I adopted him ten years ago. Estimated by his previous person to be at least in his mid 40’s back then, he was untrained, unhandlable, and fairly vicious when out of the cage. But he called me ‘baby’ when he saw me, he loved to sing and whistle, and he loved to ring this obnoxiously loud bell. He’d yell out the boys names in the other’s aggravated tone, would yell Mooooom! (also in the boys’ aggravated tone), would laugh hysterically when someone else did, swore like a college bachelor, and went into a long string of one-sided phone commentary whenever it rang or if he saw me merely touch one. He adored my three year old niece, who was the only one ever allowed to reach in his cage and play with his toys without retribution or threat. I’ve tried to guess how many people had him before me based on things he’d say, the changes in his tone of voice, the different things that upset or cheered him, but never succeeded.

This poor boy. I can’t imagine his life was all sunshine, and he’s managed through the hard times our family has faced. I hope he knows how much we loved him, how greatly we’re missing him right now.

No matter how many times it happens, the death of a pet has not gotten any easier.

Poor Baby

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Took the kids and dog for a walk today, but didn’t get very far. We walked into a park that’s being built up the street and as soon as we did, I spotted this poor thing. At first I thought he was dead, but he kicked his feet. I handed the dog off to Booger #1 and scooped him up. He’s young, his breast is still spotted. He may have either fallen from the nest or crashed into the tree. I’m a little worried, as he’s got a head tilt and was not breathing well. It’s been a long time since I did some wild bird rehab. For awhile, I had cages set up in my house with fledglings and injured adults that either came in through the clinic or that friends and neighbors brought me. I loved setting them free.

In the majority of instances, if you find a baby on the ground, leave it. The parents are always nearby and will continue to feed it until it starts to fly. If you are worried over their safety, put them in a tree or bush. Birds don’t have a sense of smell, so picking it up won’t make the parents abandon it. Don’t put pressure on their chest. Even slight pressure can suffocate them. Just move quickly and keep handling to a bare minimum, especially if it’s very young. They need their instinctual fear of people to remain.

Unfortunately, in this guy’s case, leaving him there would certainly cause his death. He couldn’t right himself, and again, showed signs of some head trauma. Evil people and unchecked dogs were my worry. Have him set up in a small carrier and am hoping he’s just in shock and will recover. If he does, I’m pretty sure the frog is willing to share her worms.

Swaddle Your Babies

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Regardless of what country you are residing in, Happy July 4th! Celebrate independence in some way- your town’s, your country’s, your own personal victories. I was surprised to find that my new neighbors were standing beside me at our town’s parade, but was thoroughly entertained watching them. They were the loudest: cheering, waving the American flag, singing to Beach Boys and dancing. And they hail from Ireland and Britain.

If you’re out celebrating with fireworks, or you have obnoxious neighbors who go nuts in their backyard (for the entire month of July), make sure to tend to your pets.

Dogs don’t understand what’s going on. It must seem like the world is ending and they are the only ones who notice.

Keep them inside if they are ones who are thoroughly freaked out. I worked in a clinic where, every July 5th, the same dog would be brought in, having been found running stray in the neighborhood. Thankfully she at least had her rabies tag on, which is how she ended up back with us every time. Every single year. If your dog is that scared, walk them on a leash for this day, please. Vet staff don’t like the amount of preventable hit by cars that come through our doors, either. And one day, someone may not return her.

Arrange to have them boarded, or speak with your vet about appropriate anti-anxiety meds.

The other method is a new one. Well, not so new. As a mom, I burritoed my babies. As a tech, we love our towels with fractious cats. I was skeptical at first with the Thunder Shirts for pets. But they had them at a discount at last year’s veterinary conference, so I bought one. The concept is not new, and I’ve counseled many owners about having a small, enclosed safe space for new, anxious pets.

My dog is terrified of wind. (trees move, everything moves, must be the end of the world but her surrounding humans are too naive to notice).

Worked amazingly, and, she gets excited to have it put on. I also sent her to the vet with it when she had her knee surgery done (my clinic doesn’t do them).  The techs there kept it on her from the time she woke up, saying they noticed a difference.

Vet tested and approved.

Here she is, relaxed while it’s booming like cannons outside. Before this, she was at my heels and barking at every bang.

 

 

 

lnahay.comSo, celebrate and enjoy, but don’t forget about your pets, or how they perceive our celebrations.