Jet is coming along slowly but nicely in healing from the surgery on his left ACL. His fur is starting to grow out a little, and he's starting to put some weight on the repaired stifle (knee). He is a valiant dog, I must say. All heart, and completely uncomplaining. We try very hard to make things as comfortable as we can, given that he walks on all fours and has to go outdoors for nature's calls.
I was in the vet's office the other day (seems like I'm there alot these days), and I noticed that there was an elderly man sitting in the waiting room holding a black chihuahua wrapped in what looked like a woman's pink chenille bathrobe. The dog was having severe respiratory distress, gasping audibly when he tried to breathe in and having to force air from his lungs in order to breathe out. Several things went through my mind -- heart worms, asthma, congestive heart failure, obstruction. I was alarmed, as was another lady who had just come in to pay her bill. A third lady was at the desk, explaining to the receptionist about when the symptoms began (4 AM that day) and that she had had to wait to bring the dog in until she could find someone to drive her to the vet (it was now 2 PM) and that things were tight and she was worried about what would have to be done to make her pet well. She was old and frail and pale, and she held onto the desk as if she needed support to remain standing. She told the receptionist that someone had given her the dog only a year ago, but that she loved him like a child.
So I thought: we always hear about a dog being man's best friend, and it is so often true. They ask almost nothing of their owners but give unflinching, unadulterated, unbelivable love back to us whether we deserve it or not. And some of us truly deserve it. This lady is one who does. She had taken this somewhat older dog and given him a warm and comfortable home, provided veterinary care, cleaned up after him when he was wormed, worried over him when he was sick, and was as distraught as if it was one of her children struggling for breath out in the waiting room. Despite her limited resources, she was willing to do whatever she could to help the dog return to good health. Frankly, I thought she was a very caring person. But then, many of us pet owners regard our furry friends as family and become deeply attached to them, don't we?
Well, all of us were distraught. The vet was in surgery, and even though the receptionist immediately went back to tell her about the extreme condition of the dog, she could not come out right away. Finally, she nearly ran down the hall to the waiting room and took the dog into the examining room instantly. I heard mumblings about heart and overnight. And then the lady came out, crying quietly. Lady-2 and I both had the same thought: he died. But no, he just had to stay overnight. Xrays were needed, and four injections of some sort of medication were given. Ka ching! Ka ching! The elderly man had gone out to the car -- I guess he was a neighbor. Lady-2 and I mumbled our heartfelt hopes for success in his treatment, and the lady left, without her dog.
Lady-2 and I looked at each other. She said she had to return to the vet's office to have her dog's teeth cleaned in a few days and just had to know what happened with that chihuahua. I felt the same way. We both left, thoughtful and sad for his owner.
The next day, I had to go into town (such as it is) again, so I stopped by the vet's office to find out what had happened. The dog had been taken almost an hour away to another animal hospital that had an xray machine, and they found that the chihuahua's heart was enlarged. Diuretics and cardiac stimulants had been used to try to alleviate the dog's condition. And that's all they knew at this point. I will have to drop by the vet's again soon to see if the little dog improved or succumbed, but I fear the worst.
Anyway, I was sad to hear the vet say that there wasn't anything that could be done about an enlarged heart in an animal. She meant that this dog was going to die from heart failure sometime in the future, possibly soon. My own heart hurt to hear those words. I walked up to the desk and pulled out some money and put it on the counter. "I'd like to make an anonymous donation to that lady's bill," I said. The vet, who is a sweet woman with a deft touch and a quiet style with the animals, smiled beatifically. The youngster behind the desk was surprised and stricken. "That's so nice. Do you know her?" "No," I answered. "I just overheard her say that times were hard for her, and I wanted to do something to help. I appreciate that she brought her dog in even though she knew it would be a hardship. And now she's going to lose him anyway. It's not much, I know, but maybe it'll help her with her bill a little."
I walked out of there feeling a little better. My own dogs have had their serious medical problems and have survived, by the grace of God -- and good care from my vet. Jet has seizures. Razzy nearly died from an unknown tick-borne illness (no, it was not lyme disease) when we first moved to Virginia. They got well because our vet is good and because I am fortunate enough to be able to afford decent care for them. I am a good friend to them. I watch out for them and seek help when they need it. And I return their sweet, nuzzling, furry love. It's what dear friends do.
Jet and Razzy