Of Sick Dogs, Of Mad Dogs

Here was my week: Monday When I got home in the afternoon, I found Mayday, my 13-year-old mini-schnauzer, sitting in the corner, staring at the floor and trembling. When I picked her up, she felt hot. A few months ago she had been in hospital for a week with a high fever. The cause was […]

By Edie Clark

Oct 16 2009

Here was my week: Monday When I got home in the afternoon, I found Mayday, my 13-year-old mini-schnauzer, sitting in the corner, staring at the floor and trembling. When I picked her up, she felt hot. A few months ago she had been in hospital for a week with a high fever. The cause was never found. So I took her back up to her beloved vet, Andrea, in Westminster, Vermont, where they discovered she is running a fever of 103. I had to leave her there. She was terrific yesterday and the day before! We went on a great walk and she trotted right along. It was so sudden, though. I’m worried. It’s very quiet in the house tonight. Harriet subdued. Tuesday After Mayday left yesterday, Harriet, eight months old now, was so quiet I could not find her in the house. Finally found her in her crate, sleeping. Today, she seemed to recover and she’s pissed off. She’s tossing my 5 pound dumb bell around the bedroom and snarling at it. After she throws it, she glances over at me angrily. I think I’ve taken away her favorite toy. Wednesday Just got back from visiting with Mayday. She is pretty weak. They led me back to where she was staying. From behind the bars, she was still, a look of pain in her eyes. I took her out of her pod and held her for about 15 minutes, just talking to her. Then I took her outside for a walk. She crumpled when I set her down. But I got her to walk about 15 yards before she gave up. Not great. Then I carried her to the car where Harriet was. They had a little nose-to-nose, Harriet very excited. I sat in the back seat with Mayday for a while, holding her. I know she loves the car so I think it’s good for her to be in its environment, as close as I can get to taking her home. She was very still in my arms, looking around a bit. The sun was strong and there was a nice, fragrant breeze which ruffled her soft gray fur. She put her nose up into the fresh air and half-closed her eyes in the warm sun. After I carried her back inside, when I set her down, she crumpled again. Andrea says she might come home tomorrow but she seems frail. We’ll see. Dogs do give us pleasure but also heartache. They think she has pancreatitis – contracted perhaps by eating a dead animal. The hay fields have a lot of squished critters in them. We went for a long walk on Sunday, when she was perfectly fine. She likes to graze in the field. Sometimes I call her my little cow. Harriet is still mad. This evening, she chewed up my reading glasses. When I discovered this horror, they were so twisted and contorted, they looked something like a modern art installation. Somehow, miraculously, my eye doctor’s office was able to resurrect them. At least for the short term. Thursday Mayday took a turn for the worse overnight. The vet told me this morning that she didn’t hold out much hope, things were very bad. I was pretty much of a mess, not enough Kleenex in the house. I went up to Vermont at noon. They did an ultrasound but could not find anything. I felt hopeful in the fact that they don’t know what’s wrong with her. Something in her belly hurts her. So far, they have eliminated pancreatitis, lymphoma, and liver tumor. But she still has a fever of 103. When I got there, she was lying on her side, not much light in her eyes. She “smiled” at me. They unhooked her IVs and I carried her out to the car again. Setting her down, she just goes into a heap. So I held her and she sat with her head up, which was good, looking around. That seemed really positive. We sat for a good long time again, in the sun, enjoying the breezes. Her ears came up and she appeared to notice people walking by and other animals. Overall she seemed more alert than yesterday. I talked to her and told her she better not leave me alone with Harriet!! After an hour or so, I took her back inside. They all love her there, she is an old friend and she gets a lot of kind attention. I am going to make her chicken and rice tonight and take it up to her first thing in the morning. She has not been eating much. Friday This morning, I got up at 5 and made the special chicken and rice dish that she likes so much. I got up to the vet’s in Vermont just as they were opening up and the night guy said as I came through the door: “she is a little better! But she still can’t walk.” He was so sweet, clearly invested in her progress. I went to her spot (they have nice facilities with nice warm fleece inside a stainless steel pod. I felt like climbing in). When she saw me, she raised herself up on her two front legs and I could see her tail was wagging! That was a huge improvement over yesterday. I dished out some of the chicken mix and she wolfed it down. I reached in and picked her up, gingerly as she is so tender all over, and carried her outside. I set her down. She was very wobbly but after some effort, she stood up and then she walked! This is huge because she hasn’t done that in a few days and hasn’t peed or pooped as a result. This time, she did her business right away. Major progress. The night guy was watching from the door and he shouted, “All RIGHT!!” and clapped his hands. She walked all the way out to the car on her own steam and then we sat in the back seat for a little while together, which is how I’ve been visiting her. Harriet greeted her enthusiastically, nose to nose. One of the vets drove in just then and she and her dog got out and came over. (They all bring their dogs in with them so it’s like a zoo in there.) She was so excited! And then Mayday growled at the dog. That was major major progress! Mayday walked all the way back to the vet’s office then I had to return her to her little spot and leave her but very happily thinking that she had turned a corner. They told me to call later in the day to talk with Andrea, who wasn’t in yet. Later Friday Talked with Andrea. She said Mayday is not out of the woods yet but things are looking a lot better. I might be able to bring her home tomorrow. I have to call in the morning. Of course, I will be counting the hours. Sunday I brought Mayday home today! It’s quite remarkable as, just last Thursday morning, they were telling me they didn’t hold much hope for her. She was almost lifeless. When I went to get her today, even though the clinic was closed, I was greeted by some amazed workers who have been caring for her and they acted a bit like they had had a visitation from the Virgin Mary or seen the risen Christ! That Mayday, she is like that, quite a mysterious gal. So now she is resting on her little throne on the back of the couch and Harriet is anxious to harrass her but I’ve separated them. At least for a few days. Mayday still has a bit of a limp on her but she is very anxious to be back into her routine and back with her real life. They never did conclude anything about what was wrong with her. But eventually they began treating her for Lyme Disease even though she tested negative (not reliable, those tests!). And that is when she perked up. They put her on doxicycline which is the standard Lyme treatment and the improvement was fast and quite remarkable. She has a shine in her eyes again. Five days later Mayday has been home five days now and is back to normal, playing with Harriet (when she feels like it, snapping at her when she doesn’t), eating hungrily and going for walks. Yesterday, I spent the whole day outside splitting up wood for the coming winter. Three cord is piled now. The whole time, Mayday wandered in the field, sniffing, eating grasses, chasing crows. This is her life. And hopefully that will continue to be so for some time.