Sunday, December 15, 2013


Miss Scarlett
One of the things I looked forward to all Fall was Scarlett and Zak's first experience in the snow.   Scarlett was sick when we got our first measurable snow; then I was sick and then it got bitterly cold - which, in this part of the world, means nights where the mercury drops to around - 20 degrees F and days where it never rises above zero.   So we've been a little slow to get out and play in the snow but this past week we finally did.

Zak doing the bunny hop
Scarlett and Zak love the snow!!   With their short little legs and long backs, they have to propel themselves by pushing up with their back legs and then taking a flying leap forward.   Scarlett was doing this so gracefully yesterday that it almost looked like she was in slow motion.    They love to stick their faces way down in a snow bank (brrr ...!!) and discover what treasures might by there (like a frozen 'poopcycle' or a bit of a pizza crust!)

Running through the snow helps develop good strong back muscles.   The breeder I got Scarlett from said she disliked the heat but never minded the cold.   Of course 'cold' is a relative term and means something entirely different in Alabama than it does here, but she really does seem to be in her element.   Just like Princess and Dee Dee used to do, she will stand on three legs and alternately lift the fourth leg off the pavement for a brief warm up!   With another week to go before it is officially 'winter', it is starting out as a very cold and snowy one.
Scarlett and Zak LOVE the snow!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Reason for Thanksgiving

I enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving weekend at home with the 'kids'.   I detest Black Friday shopping and I had a bad cold anyway, so I got my Christmas decorating done, worked on my Christmas cards and played with the dogs.   After a busy Fall, it was nice to have four days to hang out together.

There is a saying that 'the squeaky wheel gets the oil'.   I have experienced the truth of that this Fall with the dogs.   As a young puppy, Zak is very cute and equally demanding.   The boy always seems to want something - to go outside, play, eat or be cuddled.    Princess isn't as demanding but she's old and has quite a bit of back pain.   She has always been an absolute stinker about taking pills and she takes several now (Rimadyl, Tramadol and Chondroglucosamine).   It can take up to a half hour to get them down and with the Tramadol I literally open her mouth, tilt her head back as far as I can and DROP the pill down her throat.   There's just no other way. Her world has been rocked with the presence of the new puppies and I've probably gone overboard to make sure she doesn't feel displaced.

That leaves Scarlett - the proverbial 'middle child' - the one who gets ignored; not intentionally, but because the other two take so much time and also because she is such a good girl  She is always content and never fusses.   She's also been a little harder to housebreak, and because of that, has spent more time in her kennel.   We just didn't bond as quickly as Zak and I did.

That all changed last weekend.

On Sunday afternoon I took the dogs to the park.   It's a park we go to frequently and they ran and chased the Frisbee like they always do.   We came home, they had supper and about 6:30 Scarlett needed to go outside.   She wasn't out long and seemed fine when she came in.   But about a minute after going to her kennel, she threw up.   A LOT.   It was just her supper though, and I didn't think anything of it.    I went to the kitchen to get some rags to clean it up and was gone less than 30 seconds.   When I came back, Scarlett had collapsed and was lying on her side, completely unresponsive!   She was leaking some bodily fluids but not seizing.  I grabbed her and she was limp.   Trying not to panic but not sure what I was seeing, I called my neighbors, Mike and Gina.   Mike met me in the yard and we jumped into his pickup to go to the Red River Animal Emergency Clinic in Fargo (which we couldn't find at first).    Scarlett was taking short, shallow breaths and I could detect a faint pulse.   Gina  called ahead to tell them we were coming and they met us at the door and whisked her back to an exam room where they immediately started her on oxygen and IV fluids. 

The next hurdle was to try and figure out what had happened to her.  It seemed clear that she had ingested some kind of poison - but what???  Her PT and PTT (measuring clotting time) were extremely low, suggesting rodenticide.     I don't have mouse poison around my house and neither does my neighbor, but there was the possibility that she'd gotten into it someplace else.   Scarlett was started on plasma until she could have several injections of Vitamin K.   She remained 'critical but stable' over the next 36 hours.   She was transferred to Prairie Winds on Monday,  where she had more tests and Dr. Wisnewski consulted with a toxicologist.   The mystery deepened when they discovered her liver was severely toxic as this is not typical of  rodenticide.  Did I drop a cold tablet (with Tylenol) that she ingested?   Possibly, but not likely, since cold tablets are in blister packs and I didn't find anything like that on the floor.   Nothing was making sense and we may never know for sure what happened.   Finally, on Tuesday afternoon she began to show signs of improvement and her blood work normalized.   She got to come home that night and Zak literally jumped up and down on all fours and slathered her with puppy kisses when he saw her!   He missed her so much! 

I worked partial days this week, so that I could keep an eye on her and stay on top of her medications.   I've only had her two months and while this isn't the way I would have chosen to bond with her, it's the way it happened.   I've enjoyed just holding her and she is getting stronger every day.   She'll be on a special diet for a few weeks and have her blood work rechecked at that time.

One of the hard things in a pet emergency is the series of financial decisions you are forced to make at a time when you're stressed and emotionally distraught.    When you walk in the door of the Red River Animal Emergency Clinic you put down a $500 deposit, plus another $400 for intubation.    And that is just the start.   Lab work, overnight monitoring, plasma  .... it all adds up very quickly.   You don't want to have to make such hard decisions, but you have no choice.   I had to call my financial advisor on Monday afternoon, and he was extremely helpful.   I've looked at pet insurance but for three dogs it is very expensive and I've never sprung for it.   It certainly would have been nice this week!   There are also special charities like CorgiAid and CorgiPals that help with catastrophic veterinary bills.  These are difficult and unpleasant realities that must be faced, and things such as prognosis, age of the dog and your own financial situation all factor in.  In the end, I decided to 'go for broke' and am very glad that I did.  Scarlett is almost back to normal and the experience has deepened our bond and my love for her. 

I am so very, very grateful to the Fargo Emergency Veterinary Clinic (Dr. Stegman and Dr. Kramer) and Prairie Winds Veterinary Center (Dr. Alicia Wisnewski and her outstanding staff of vet-techs) for saving my sweet Scarlett's life.