{May 27, 2012}   A Whole New World

So I have not been as diligent about writing as I thought I’d be. I’ve thought plenty of times of things so post and just haven’t gotten around to getting the words from my head to the page. Shame on me. Since my last posting, my fur baby has passed away so we are now pet-less, the Monster is now 1, Sarge is now a civilian, and the whole family is 1500 miles from where we lived when I started this page. Lots of changes, let me tell you. I’m not even sure what to write now, honestly, because so much has changed. I suppose changes and how to deal with the bad changes makes a good topic to start with. Our family has gone through a lot, as I said. Last spring our family dog injured his hip. Within a month or two he started wheezing. We never found out if the two were ever connected, or even for sure what the cause of the wheezing was. The hip injury occurred when the neighbor’s chickens decided to start exploring our backyard and the dog decided they’d be fun to chase. Chickens can turn a corner very quickly, dogs not so much. After consulting with my vet, we decided that the wheeze was a bigger concern than the hip injury, so we put treatment of that one on hold and the dog on couch rest while we monitored him. The unfortunate part about owning a snow dog when you live in a warm climate is that you have to be conscious of temperature and make sure that your dog is comfortable year-round. Our air conditioner began having issues and our landlord refused to do anything until it finally cut out completely, on a Friday of all days, when the temperature outside was around 100 degrees. This caused the temperature inside our house to rise to a stifling 97 degrees. Since dogs cannot sweat, they cool themselves off by panting, and with our dog having breathing issues, he was unable to cool himself and by the time I realized that he had to be moved to somewhere with air conditioning, he had begun to overheat. I dropped my pups with my parents and spent the entire night at the vet, first sitting in a bathtub of ice water to cool the dog’s fever, then monitoring him for hours to make sure he was in stable condition. I’m sure that many people would question why on earth I would stay at the vet’s the entire night to monitor my dog instead of just letting the vet handle everything. I am very much an animal lover, my dog’s vet is practically family and my pets ARE family, so my calling at 10:30 at night, showing up, and personally overseeing treatment for my dog was not surprising to a vet who’s been practicing for over 30 years. The heat stroke was severe enough that the vet thought we would lose him, but the dog surprised us and pulled through, and didn’t even seem to have suffered brain damage, which can occur with the high fever he had endured. However once you suffer from heat stroke once, your system is permanently compromised. I had to pack ice in the dog’s crate to take him home once our A/C was fixed because my car couldn’t handle keeping the temperature cold enough to keep him comfortable for the trip home. We managed to get x-rays done before the dog got heat stroke, but they showed nothing. When we did x-rays again after it was on another hot day and the dog took a downhill turn. X-rays still showed nothing and the dog was wheezing and not doing well so the vet told me the options I had were to put him down (not an option to me), do nothing and let him suffocate, because he would eventually with no treatment (also not an option to me), or to operate, with the possible results of either losing him on the table, or having him live a long happy life and endure another surgery later for his hip. Obviously I opted for surgery. Because of the heat and the stress of having taken him out to do x-rays, the vet did an emergency tracheotomy that night so that he could breathe, and another surgery to open his throat and fix whatever the blockage was would be done the following day after he had rested and his system had a chance to relax and recoup. You might ask why not just go straight to the second surgery to open the throat first. Since nothing showed on the x-rays, the second surgery would have be partially an exploratory surgery, to find whatever was blocking his throat and would possibly be several hours. With the stress the dog was already under, it would have certainly resulted in death from system shock without doing the shorter surgery first to allow his system a chance to get the oxygen he needed from breathing and to get some very much needed rest. The first surgery went well and he slept peacefully, and probably the best he had in a while since he could breathe normally again. I had opted to go home and leave the dog in the vet’s care for the night and the following morning and planned on going back the next afternoon before the second surgery. The vet reported that he had been awake that morning and been back to acting his normal, goofy self and that he was doing very well. Early in the afternoon however, he spiked another fever and this time it went too high, too fast and the vet could not save him. It was quite a blow for both of us. He felt terrible about it and was afraid that I might be upset at him for loosing the dog, but I know he loved my dog too and did everything he could. In the end, I made the decision to do surgery, knowing that it was a 50/50 chance to save my baby. Any other option would have meant certain death, either immediately or long, drawn-out and painful. Instead, my dog had a peaceful night of sleep, a comfortable happy morning, and passed with no pain, as the fever he spiked knocked him unconscious too quickly for him to feel anything. Even now, months later it still makes me cry to write this, because of how much I loved my dog. But he was a wonderful, smart and entertaining dog while we had him, great with kids, friendly and for the most part well-behaved, with the exception of diving into bed once in a while ~wink~

So where am I going with this long, sad story? He was a wonderful dog, loved by everybody who met him. He was a hard worker when I asked him to be, as I had him trained to pull the small wagon we have. He brought smiles to the faces of young and old alike. But when we moved a couple of months after he passed, I have no idea if we would have been able to keep him, or what we would have done with him if we had. Our move involved sending most of our belongings via a packing company halfway across the country and following in our own cars on a trip that takes approximately 25 hours worth of driving. As much of a great traveler as he was, it can be difficult to find hotels that allow pets and that much time in a car can be hard on even humans. When we arrived in our new home town, we stayed with family for 2 months until we had found work and our own place to live. Living with them was cramped and a large dog would have made it even more so and our new landlord doesn’t allow pets. I’m sad that he left us, but happy that he passed as peacefully as he did and grateful that we didn’t have to worry about what to do with him before or after the move. My best friend helped me bury him out in the country under a nice little shade tree. I found out later that the area that we buried him in holds the remains of several pets that the previous owner had had over the years, so he is not alone as well. As sad as some changes can be, sometimes they can be for the better in some ways. My dog is no longer sick or in pain, and I didn’t have to handle the pain of worrying that I’d have to give him up to someone who might not treat him as well as we did. Eventually we’ll get another dog. I think when we do, we’ll adopt an older dog to live out its life the way our’s should have. Pardon me while I go have a little cry now; I’ll catch up with you another day.


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