When I sat down to write this week’s blog, I realised that I would have trouble talking about anything other than what my focus has been all week – our dog, Cassie.
This is not my usual sort of blog, so I won’t be offended if no one reads this one. (Not that I’m offended when you don’t read the others.)
It was Thursday, one week earlier, when my husband and I asked each other: “Is Cassie limping?” The next day it was obvious: “Cassie’s limping.” By Saturday she could hardly walk at all.
We had been staying at our beach house (just 20 minutes drive away from our normal house), and we had been due to move back home that afternoon. We rang the vet and made an appointment for early that afternoon, so it was a rush to move everything back home before the appointment, especially when the poor puppy (now 13 ¾ years old) could barely walk a few steps before lying down.
We only had time to have a quick look at her foot before rushing back to take her to the vet, and we could see no sign of any problem. The vet, however, noticed that one of her toes was swollen. She asked if there had been any trauma lately, and we didn’t know of any, except that it was more difficult for her at the beach house, with stairs and a higher bed to jump on and off of.
The vet did an x-ray which didn’t show anything, so she suggested her lameness could be caused by an injured tendon, so bandaged it up to give it more support. She gave her a shot of methadone for immediate relief of pain, and put a fentanyl patch on her to manage her pain over the following 36 hours.
The methadone made Cassie dopey, but as those effects started to wear off and the fentanyl started to kick in 12 hours later, we noticed Cassie seemed to be suffering more. She seemed unable to walk more than a few steps before lying down, and her back legs were unable to hold her up any more than her sore front one could. However the most worrying symptom started on that Sunday – she was not interested in her food.
We had always said that the only Doberman that doesn’t eat is a dead Doberman, so we were becoming really concerned. By Sunday afternoon the vet was closed, so we decided that it seemed too much of a coincidence, and we needed to remove the fentanyl patch which was obviously making her ill.
She didn’t eat dinner that night and spent a restless night getting up and down. We did manage to get her to eat on Monday morning, but she wasn’t drinking much water either, and when she didn’t eat her dinner again that night we were very concerned. Monday night we became concerned about her restlessness, her retching, and her breathing seemed affected.
The public holiday on Tuesday was a blessing in disguise, because when we took her to the emergency vet with 24hour hospital care, they decided to keep her in. The vet found her to be dehydrated and found it difficult to listen to her heart, so thought she should be on a drip to get some fluids in her, and intended to do an ultrasound on her heart.
While she was in there, they identified a problem with her breathing and after giving her a chest x-ray, determined that one lung had fluid on it. They did a test to take some fluid from her lungs and sent that off to be cultured, but from their experience, it looked like pneumonia, so started her on intravenous antibiotics, and nasal oxygen to help her breathing.
In the meantime, they had taken the bandage off her foot, and it was only when taking her out for a toilet walk that they noticed that her sore toe was weeping blood and pus. She obviously had an abscess, which may have been caused by a foreign body that she had walked on, and which would hopefully be expelled along with the pus.
We were able to meet with a specialist vet on the Wednesday, and she would look after Cassie’s care during the day, whilst the emergency team looked after her care during the night. The specialist told us that the two conditions of her foot and her lungs seemed to be unrelated. The pneumonia looked like it was aspiration pneumonia, caused by regurgitating some stomach acid into her lungs, causing a bacterial infection. Despite an ultrasound of her stomach, they were unable to identify any cause of the regurgitation.
They were, however, able to treat the symptoms, and following weaning her off the oxygen, and changing to oral antibiotics, we were able to bring her home on Friday evening.
She had a bit of a rough night with more retching than we would have liked, but we were so grateful to have her home and looking a lot brighter than when we took her in.
We were back to the local vet on Saturday morning, however, after the bandage which the specialists had applied to her foot became wet and we had to remove it.
We were back at the after hours vet on Sunday to have her bandage changed, as she seemed to be in more pain from her foot.
Looks like Cassie is improving gradually. The last couple of nights, she has slept well, with very little retching, but she has vomited each morning, just to keep us on our toes.
This has been a difficult week for Cassie and for her mum and dad who love her. Even though we were on tenterhooks a few times while we waited on information back from the vet, I have never lost faith that she will be ok, no matter what the outcome.
I had a couple of signs on the day we took her in, which helped me to have faith.
The first was seeing 444 on the numberplate of a car just in front of us as we drove in. 444 in angel numbers means that you are surrounded by angels and very much supported by them, and you have nothing to fear.
The second sign was: as we were driving out of the vet centre, I saw a willy-willy. This is not the sort of thing you see every day, so I took this as a good omen too. (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/learn-about-the-weather/weather-phenomena/willy-willy)
She will be back to the specialist vet tomorrow for a check up. The vet has warned, however, that Cassie could be on antibiotics for 6 weeks. Hopefully by the time her 6 weeks is up, she will be running around like a young puppy, and looking more spritely than we have seen her in years.
Thank you to all of my facebook friends and animal communication groups for your prayers, kind thoughts, and helpful gestures. I appreciate you all, and I am sure Cassie does as well.