Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Can you believe it has been over a week since I last posted? Well, I have certainly had an eventful week.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family, and I have lots of great stories to share with you, but this post is a story, but it doesn't start out so wonderful.
Friday evening I was standing out in the yard at my in-laws talking with Studmuffin's aunt and sister-in-law. A semi truck drove by going at least 55 mph. Kelsey shot out after it, to make sure the giant beast never dared to return. Unfortunately, before she returned to me after performing her guard duties, a pickup truck with a hay trailer zoomed by going every bit as fast as the truck. She didn't come trotting back to me.
I calmly walked away from my conversation and called her. Holly came bounding towards me. She skidded to a halt, spun around and dashed back to the road. Before I could get to the road she had done the dash, spin, and return to me 2 other times. I felt as if my legs were moving in slow motion, but I really dreaded coming over the rise at the northeast corner of the driveway.
What seemed an eternity later, but entirely too fast for my sanity, I saw her. Her strong body lay lifeless on the side of the road, with her head twisted up and behind her. She wasn't breathing. Holly stood over her and trembled, looking at me as if I was supposed to fix this horrible tragedy. I laid my hands on her and could feel no movement of breathing. I searched for a pulse, but my expertise does not extend to finding a pulse on a dog in a moment of panic.
I tried to hurry to the house, but I was afraid to run because all of the kids were outside playing. I walked into the house, and said in as calm a voice as possible, "Brent! Kelsey got hit by a car. She's dead." And I fell to my knees and began to sob in this week pitiful way, that seemed totally out of proportion to me.
Studmuffin got up and ran out the door. I followed him, but I couldn't make myself run, but was unable to walk...She remained at the side of the road in the same horrific position I had left her. We examined her and agreed she wasn't breathing. He picked her up and carried her over to his brother's pickup and laid her down....
I went over to Aleta & Anita and asked them to get the kids inside so they wouldn't see her. I turned around and returned to my precious dog...."She's started breathing, but it's only every once in a while," Brent told me as I began to walk back. "That's not breathing. It's agonal and it doesn't count." By the time I got back to the pickup she was breathing hard and rapidly. Her body remained limp, but her eyes were open. Her pupils were constricted down. Blood was coming out of her eyes and nose, and her tongue was hanging limply out the side of her mouth...I didn't know what to do. I know this seems crazy, but my first thought was, "I don't know how to assess if a dog's nervous system is intact."
I decided to call my Uncle Harry who lives in a nearby town, and is a veterinarian. He gave me some instructions on how to do a quick test to see if she was responsive. My brother-in-law took his pocket knife and poked her foot. No reaction. Her legs were limp, and no matter what we did to them, she showed no signs of feeling pain. Her breathing remained fast and labored, and her eyes were focused on nothing.
We made the horrible, difficult decision to end her suffering. Brent & his brother took her to the pasture on the back of the truck. Brent secured his brother's promise to take care of her, because he just didn't know if he could do that to her, even if it was best for her...
As Brent climbed out of the pickup and turned around, Kelsey lifted her head and tried to pull her feet up under her! He jumped back so far, his brother thought he must have seen a snake...She did it again..
"What do we do now?" They decided to call me. I called my uncle, and he helped arrange for a vet to meet me at the local clinic.
We agonized over moving her because we continued to fear for a spinal injury, but I refused to let her ride on the back of a flat bed pickup down bumpy rural roads to a town 20 some miles away....Brent picked her up and we placed her in blankets in the back of our car.
I vacillated between deadly calm with a sense of unrealness to the whole situation, to crying over the loss of my dear friend.
The vet met us at the door to the clinic and carried her in. I was amazed at his lack of hesitation in lifting and moving her. He did a quick exam of her reflexes, looked her over, and pronounced, "I think she just got her bell rung really hard. Her breathing is stable, her heart rate is steady, and I don't find any broken bones." He then had me help insert an IV, and he started loading her up on IV steroids. We left her in his care, with the promise that he would call in the morning with an update unless she took a turn for the worse, and then he would call us right away. His last words to me were, "I'm somewhat optimistic. Her pupils are already dilating back out, and she is trying to move."
The next morning he called with news that her vision was still a little poor (she had been obviously completely blind the night before as her head wobbled around with her eyes completely unfocused) and her balance was not great but she was up and moving. However, she wasn't eating so he wanted to keep her another day.
Fast forward to Sunday morning. I received my call. "Well. She still isn't eating. I have to force her to do any activity. At this point you can take her home and nurse her, but if she doesn't eat there is only so much you can do...stroke....may never recover....relearn basic skills.....blah, blah, blah."
By the time I hung up the phone I was a complete wreck all over again.
We drove the 55 miles from my parents to the vet's and the ride seemed to creep by at the same time that I dreaded arriving. My girls were excited because they were eager to see their friend, and ready to take her home. We arrived a few minutes before the vet, and we prepared them for the worst...
We followed Jesse into the clinic, into the back, where he opened the door to an indoor pen they have for large animals. As soon as I said her name, she stood up as quick as her wobbly legs would hold her and stumbled over the step to leave the pen, and straight to her family. It was wonderful. It was awful. She was alert and excited to see us, but obviously in pain and very weak. We walked her out the door where she wobbled straight to our car and sat down at the rear hatch to be let in....
I forgot to mention that I had been clinging to the hope that she wasn't eating because she was in a strange place where she was scared. After all, the reason we started to travel with her was because she has always refused to eat when we are gone...
She slept all of the way home (4 hours.)
We gently set her out of the car and she walked straight into the house and to her bed.
To help shorten this story for you, I will now give you an update to her current status. the first day and a half she vomited up everything I put down her. finally last night she kept her food down. She has been staying in the garage for the most part, because it is quiet and I don't have to scrub vomit out of the carpet. Correction, Studmuffin doesn't have to clean vomit out of the carpet. I was so wrapped up in her yesterday morning, and feeding the kids, he ended up cleaning carpet.
Today I took her to our vet here in town so that I could get some follow up. The vet here recommended we continue the steroids and pepcid we are doing, along with coaxing her to eat whatever she will (canned dog food), and keep her as quiet as possible. She said she is very lucky, seems to be recovering pretty quickly, and SHE SHOULD MAKE FULL RECOVERY!!!
She still has balance issues. She tends to stumble when she tries to change directions too quickly. She weaves continuously when she is eating or drinking over her bowl, and she can't just sit because her legs slide out from under her. But, she is actually getting out of her bed and getting up to greet me when I come check on her.
And Holly? Well, we've really limited contact, but she has been very worried about her friend. This morning when we let her in, she walked over with her little stub tucked between her tail and laid down beside Kelsey, and placed her leg over Kelsey's. It was so sweet I cried all over again.
Now, don't you wish I wouldn't take so many days away from blogging so i wouldn't have so many words stored up? Don't worry. I know this post was agonizingly long, but I promise my next few will be fun!
Hey, on a lighter note, did you know that Studmuffin didn't learn to read and write until he was in college? Apparently he only learned then so he could write me love letters. At least, that's what he told the girls the other night at dinner....