Sunday, June 26, 2011

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie - Unless They Have Deep Sleep Disorder

    You should not let sleeping dogs lie when they choose inappropriate places to do their napping.  Our latest edition, Riley, a small puppy, turned out by its mother, has come to know the comforts and security of being cared for like a newborn baby.  He was bottle fed and sleeps on a bed of plush cotton with a tiny stuffed animal that looks just like his mother. When Riley sleeps, he enters some kind of deep R.E.M. sleep that nothing can wake him from.  You can poke him, pick him up, even dress him in tiny Build-A-Bear clothing and he will never wake.  When he finally does come to, he loves to be outdoors running and playing. The problem is, Riley is the runt of the litter and tires easily.  After a few minutes of terrorizing the cats and scratching around in the flower beds, he finds a cool place to nap.... usually behind my tires and enters his deep comatose like sleep.

    Before I drive, I always honk the horn several times, alerting the cats sleeping inside my engine and any small children who might be standing behind my car.  I normally walk around, checking behind each tire, but on this particular day, I was in a hurry.  I made the horn wail for a ridiculous amount of time, sure to scare off any sleeping critters in or around my vehicle.  I preface this by saying that it is bad to run over your own dog, but to do it twice is much worse.   I began backing out of the drive when I heard the most horrible yelping.  I knew what had happened and feared that I was on top off the dog, so I put the car in forward and pulled back over the poor thing.  More yelping ensued and as I put the car in reverse to get off of him again, I realized that this may be a vicious cycle that would never end and I should probably park the car and assess the damage.  Scared to look and traumatized by the screams from my child and the yelps from my dog, I ran around the car only to find my little dog staring up at me with a look of dismay. There seemed to be no real damage.  There was no blood or brains or any of the other things I suspected I would find.  The dog had urinated on itself, but I would too if a large SUV was coming over the top of me... twice.   I scooped up the dog and carried him to his bed of fluff and laid him down gently.   I had taken that CPR course at work and knew that his vitals signs would be off the chart if there was bad damage.  His heart wasn't racing.  He appeared to be in no pain and he wasn't shying away from me.  I quickly told him it was the cat that was driving the car so not to destroy the caregiving image he has me associated with.
    A few hours later, I discovered the leg that wouldn't work and decided to go to the Emergency Vet.  That was my first mistake.  Upon arrival, I was greeted by a nurse who handed me a pamphlet on the costs associated with being hit by a car.  A small red flag went up in my mind.  While waiting in the tiny sterile room with my dog who still appeared to be in no pain, I noticed a sign on the wall that encouraged patients to use the office phones to contact friends and relatives who could call in credit card numbers to help finance my pet's emergency care.  Hmmmm... Flag #2 had now popped up.  The vet arrived and looked my dog over.  He talked about free flowing abdominal fluids and hidden injuries and I explained that the dog had not actually been hit by a car flying down the street, but had simply been run over... by me.... twice.   There was no blunt force trauma.  The vet left and in came a financial counselor.  I should have left then, but no... I stayed for more.   He walks over to a large write and wipe board and begins creating a visual diagram of all of the required treatments and associated cost estimates.  It began with Pain Medicine - $50 - $75. X-rays came after that for $200.   After we flew through anesthesia, surgery, physical therapy and life coaches, I screamed that he had to stop before my head exploded.  The obvious question had to be asked... how can you even talk to me about surgery when you don't even know what is wrong with the dog.  They were preparing me, he told me.  I suggested a better method and asked that we just X-ray the dog and then map out a course of action.  "Not without pain medicine," I was told.   I dismissed my Pet Loan Officer and asked to talk to the vet.  I voiced my great dissatisfaction with this plan and even went so far as to challenge the ethics of drugging an animal or person when there is no sign of pain.   I would like to point out that challenging a doctor's ethics is never a good thing to do.  I lost the debate, my dog got Toradal and I now own a series of expensive X-rays of my dog in various disturbing positions.... running, sitting, spread out like a hog on a spit and more.   I believe my dog may be flipping me off in one of those photos.   I'm sure that was a humorous Vet joke because of my ethics comment.  

    An hour and a half later,  I received the news that my dog had a hairline fracture and we would splint him and place a large funnel on his head. Having a basic understanding of the healing process, hairline fractures in young bones and that fact that neither my husband, nor the three dogs waiting at home, would ever accept a funnel headed Spaniel.  I opted to take our drugs and take the dog home to heal without the splint or funnel that would be more traumatizing than the tiny crack in the dog's leg. The dog was stoned on narcotics at this point and was weaker now than when I brought the happy puppy in.   $240 later, we left with a drunk dog in a box exploding body fluids in the back seat of my SUV. It was the longest 45 minute ride home I have ever made.  My daughter and I were hanging our heads out of the windows, ironically, like dogs, trying to escape the odor coming from my stoned dog passed out in the back seat.

    A week passed and the leg began healing nicely.  The dog is getting around great and will continue to heal with no narcotics or funnel hats.   I walk a little slower around the car now, checking for sleeping dogs or tails poking out of the engine and hope nobody is napping in places they shouldn't be. It is critically important that I not run over another animal, because they will never let me back in the Emergency Vet Clinic.

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