I’m having an all nighter with my dog. She ate something bad, and boy is she sick.
I have no idea where she could have found anything weird, she’s been stuck at home with us ever since the advent of the Pollen Nation. We been sequestered most of the time in the house, and her too. She’s only got the immediate dooryard these days, because the trees are exploding in every direction, and she gets just as sneezy as the next person. Gooey eyes too. One night I woke up to a weird noise, got up and wandered into the living room – from the entry way downstairs, I could hear it – she was snoring to beat the band. We all been suffering, so when she first got sick, I wondered if she might just be having the same violent reaction to Spring! that my husband had about a week and a half ago.
But today my husband and I had to go out to do yards at our rentals – tote that barge and all – so the dogs were alone here for a couple of hours. When we came home we found she had thrown up her breakfast and wanted nothing to do with lunch. Very, very strange. She is a woman of strict habit, and tells the time by breakfast, lunch and dinner. If we are not prompt with her food she will get our attention by smashing at her dish with one foot, and giving us “The Look.”
She didn’t want anything to do with food all the sudden, violently turning her face away if we approached her with a treat. But, she started drinking water like a camel. This, we found out, is a Red Alert – something was wrong in her stomach, and more water just made her throw up. Throwing up makes dogs dehydrated, and if you give them more water, they will just throw up more.
So, we made a panicky trip to see our vet. He works at various practices on different days, so we had to call his service to find out where he would be. Yankee Hill? Okay, we knew he is a busy guy, so we loaded our patient into the car and headed for Yankee Hill.
We laid her in the back seat so she could put her head on my lap. She was breathing really fast and her heart was fast, but she was still responsive and alert, if weak. I tried not to panic, but when you’re good at something, know what I mean?
The storm was moving in as we headed south out of Chico, the clouds were dark, bumping and jostling. From out of the darkness a single shaft of sunshine beamed down on a flock of sheep along Hwy 99 south of town, it looked like an oil painting. Cows are out to pasture now, and there was a flock of turkeys at Butte Creek Estates. One male was showing off his tail feathers like a deck of playing cards splayed out across his back.
As we took the turn off toward Butte College I could not help enjoy the vistas. Why I wait until my dog is sick to get up into that country is beyond me. When I was a kid my grandfather used to load us into his ’66 Chevy, usually to visit someone or do some sort of business, but he always made a “ramble” of it, and the hills around Oroville were one of his favorites.
I don’t remember the last time I been to Yankee Hill. I don’t even know anybody from Yankee Hill. I know some people from Cherokee, and Concow and Cohasset, but I have yet to meet anybody who claims to be from The Hill. It is pretty remote, for a town so close to civilization. You better have a good car if you want to be a year-rounder, probably need 4WD, and I don’t think anybody would consider a winch to be overkill. I’d get one, they’re so damned handy for just about anything.
There are stores up there, it is possible to stay up there and never go anywhere, if you are determined. We met our vet at Pines Yankee Hill Hardware, situated right on Hwy 70. Pines is situated in a big open parking lot, it’s a meeting place for the community. They advertise all kinds of building materials, feed and other needs for your stock animals and pets, but like most small town stores, they try to keep whatever the public might need. They house the post office, so they get a steady stream of traffic.
I’ll make a very conservative guess that one in three own dog(s), and depend on our vet to make his usual Wednesday visit. We arrived to find ourselves fourth in line, even when the Doc hadn’t made it yet. Biscuit was alert enough to wait, so we sat resigned in our car while he tended to the others. We felt comfortable among other pet lovers.
The first man was done and gone in no time – alot of people just need shots. There’s the digging out of records, a quick checkup, and the making of the bill – all of which Doc does without any help. Between visitors he sanitizes his exam room, then welcomes in the next guest.
The next guest was a very unwilling yellow lab, looked about two years old. He walked up to the door, very tentatively, and when the Doc swung it open, the patient turned into a yellow streak, running quickly under his master’s car. We watched, trying not to giggle, as his master went right under the truck after him, lifting this 50 or so pound mutt over his shoulder, returning to the Doc’s “office” like a hunter with a trophy. I wish I had a camera to catch the look on his dog’s face, which of course, was wide with doggy smiles when they came out of the van a few minutes later. All’s well that ends well, right Fella?
The next guy turned out to be two guys with three dogs. I expected some entertainment value, but these two characters had been sitting in their car for almost an hour now, strategizing, I imagine, how to get those three dogs into that van. One fellow emerged from the driver’s seat with one dog packed under each arm – a smallish older dog, and a pup that must have been about a year old. The other fellow had been chain smoking cigarettes, so he came out from the passenger side with his life line in the hand closest to his face and the first pup’s sibling tucked under the other arm. My husband and I had to admire these guys, who looked like father and son, they sure had it down when it came to taking the mutts to the vet.
But it still took a long time, each dog having their own record to pull, each needing a quick exam, and then the shots – that’s always a wild card there.
We were starting to get anxious. Biscuit wasn’t looking too good, the ride had been tough on her, and she wasn’t used to sitting or laying somewhere cooped up so long. She was glad to get out of the car, but my husband had to lift her out and set her on the ground. She was looking pretty confused, but she trotted out toward the fence to scent the air. As soon as the other fellas had loaded up and gone we got her in to see the Doc.
Why do we go to so much trouble to see this guy? Cause we been through the mill in this town, I ain’t going to tell the horror stories, but he’s the only vet we trust anymore. Nuff said?
Doc is sensitive to people’s feelings as well as pets. He knows some people are too anxious to leave their pet, that’s why he has a mobile office and works hard to cover the entire county. After the experiences we’ve had, I am almost physically unable to leave my pet at a vet’s office, don’t make me tell why. I’d rather be with my pet, for better or worse, and I don’t mind inconveniencing myself to take care of my pet.
I had to take care of my husband during a period of time most people in his situation would have been in the hospital recovery room, because they found out we didn’t have insurance. The doctor’s hands shook as she showed me how to take care of a wound that opened straight into my husband’s guts. She gave me a list of symptoms and told me, very forcefully, to get to the hospital asap if any of these symptoms showed up. I was so scared, my body felt like a robot, and I did it for two weeks before I started to feel like my husband was going to be okay.
Doc was upbeat in his exam, trying to make Biscuit feel comfortable. After we described the symptoms, he asked us where she’d been. Had she been around any creek lately? He was afraid she’d got ahold of a rotten fish. No, we told him, we hadn’t been off the property too much, if she’d gotten something, it was in our yard. Then we remembered her little foray with the deer a couple of weeks ago. After we gave him the highlights, he told us, the hills are full of Giardia, an amoeba that is passed through the urine and feces of infected animals by way of water. If she drank standing water, she might have it. Of course he couldn’t be sure, he had to listen to her habits and think about it. It’s good to have a doctor that talks to you and listens to what you say.
Doc was still upbeat, he said her immediate problem was dehydration and a fever. After feeling her guts, he asked about her stools. I’ve been a dog owner for many years, I know my dog’s stool. I told him she’d had bad diarrhea before we came out – I was able to give him the color texture and smell – and he told us how dangerous diarrhea and vomiting are for dogs, they dehydrate quick.
She should not be allowed anymore water or food, it would just make her vomit, he said, until she had rehydrated with a saline solution. We could leave her all night at the vet in town, or we could administer the solution into her mouth by way of one of those feeding syringes, every 10 to 15 minutes. Probably all night, he said, as though this was nothing. He knows we love the dog, and we’ll do what we need to do.
He also gave us some diarrhea medicine, and pills for the fever. He said it was really important to get her hydrated before we tried to give her either of those.
We drove away feeling a lot better, because Doc was so upbeat. I realize, he trusts us to be responsible. He knows it could go wrong, but he knows we understand what’s happening. He doesn’t treat us like a couple of idiots like a lot of vets.
The hydration solution was easy, she was thirsty, and she would take small amounts. Like Doc said I started out with tiny doses and gradually worked my way up. Once she was taking the full dose he’d recommended, I thought it would be alright to give her the diarrhea medicine. That turned out to be a bummer. A few minutes later she got up with a start and wanted out fast. She barfed a lot of water, and acted really sick. I almost panicked, but we got her back to her bed and got right back to the syringe full of solution.
It has gone on like this all night. She got one dose of diarrhea medicine down, and that was the go-ahead for the fever medicine. But, when we tried to give her third dose of the diarrhea medicine, she barfed again. We decided to give up on the diarrhea medicine until she seemed more up to it. Every barf session wiped her out again, we had to start all over.
So here I am at 4:30. My husband, exhausted from a long work day, and then a longer day toting our dog up and down stairs, in and out of the car, etc, finally surrendered to the bedroom after the midnight barfing. I can only hope he hasn’t blown out his back. He’s so macho, especially with the women he loves.
I set my stove timer for 10 minutes, and I get up and fill the syringe and give it to her. She doing a lot better. She’s finally stopped panting, which was really frightening, and her breathing feels more relaxed. She’s relaxed over onto her side, instead of sitting straight up, tense and haggard. She raises her head very easily and takes the syringe really well now, hardly spills a drop.
It got sketchy after midnight. I tried watching all my favorite shows – Bette Davis guest starred on Perry Mason at 11:30, and then I watched an entire episode of Twilight Zone before my eyelids started getting heavy. At some point I found myself watching Kojak with the sound off. And then I decided, since she seemed okay, I should lay down for half an hour. I’d been sitting in my rocking chair, and after all day in the car, etc etc, my back was ready to walk out AOL. So, I set the stove timer, and I crawled into bed in my clothes, that’s always weird.
I woke up feeling panicky at the sound of the timer, which set my husband flailing in the covers, thinking Biscuit was in trouble. When I came to check on her she was panting again. With new zeal I gave her a good dose from the syringe and made a pot of coffee.
Now I’ve had two big cups of coffee, and I’m starting to flag again. Biscuit is resting on her pillow, she’s stopped panting, she seems relaxed. The rain has begun to drum violently on the eaves again, having stopped for a few hours.
If I can just keep her on the solution until 6 am, I can add some pureed Minute Rice, Doc said. This will make it easier for her to take another pill for the fever. I had to wonder, since she barfed only a couple of hours after we gave her the first pill, did it make any difference? Her fever does seem somewhat abated, but her ears are still warm.
This whole experience beckons back to raising children, when we didn’t really have a pediatrician we could count on. When I woke up one night at 1 am to my screaming infant, and found he had a temperature of 107, I called my pediatrician’s service, and was referred to one of his fellow practitioners. The man answered his phone very sleepy, and when I told him the problem, very calm, he yelled at me to get some children’s Tylenol and hung up.
Message received, Asshole – you can’t count on doctors, they are not saints. Learn how to take better care of yourself – start out by learning a few things about the human body, that’s helpful. Same with our pets – I just saw a segment on the news, a veterinarian telling pet owners to give their dogs an exam about once a week. Start by learning what’s “normal” for your pet, so you know faster when something is wrong. Learn how to do things yourself – when we had a diabetic dog, I had to take him out to pee every morning and catch some of his first pee in a plastic pint container to test his blood sugar so we’d know how the insulin was working. Oh yeah, he pee’d all over my arm the first time, but I got that payload, Sister!
You should have seen the look on his face!
OMG, 5am. I just pulled an (almost) all nighter with my best girlfriend – I’ll tell you what – one look in those eyes and you’d have done same.
I’ll keep you posted.