Saturday, July 19, 2014

Day 1677

We had to make some tough decisions today. When we returned to the animal emergency clinic early this morning to check on Dot, it was clear that she wanted to go home. It was equally clear that her condition was becoming worse. Her temperature was still normal, but she refused to eat anything during the night and was having trouble controlling her bladder. When we took her outside to see if we could get her to pee normally, she headed straight for the car. We wanted to take her home as much as she wanted to go, but we had an appointment with an internal medicine specialist first.

The doctors at the emergency clinic had arranged the appointment with the specialist for us during the night and luckily it was right next door, at the cancer center where we have been taking Dash. The doctor we saw was very good. She did new blood work and told us that with the exception of the severe infection that was making Dot so sick, her basic vital signs were good. She also agreed with us that it was important to get Dot home to eliminate the stress and depression that was probably making her condition even worse. She thought that if we could get Dot to eat anything at all without vomiting, we could take her home for the weekend. Dot could have hamburger, boiled chicken, rice, anything she wanted. She prescribed some new antibiotics, anti-nausea drugs, and pain medication that she thought would be more effective. She explained that Dot's incontinence was caused by being pumped up with fluids and she should begin urinating normally again after she was off the IV fluids for a while.

When we asked about danger signs to look out for, she told us that the biggest near-term danger was if she became dehydrated or started vomiting. If she started vomiting, we were to get her back to the emergency clinic immediately. The doctor prepared a package of medication to get Dot through the weekend until we could bring her in for an ultrasound test on Monday morning. We really thought we were finally going home. The nurse gave Dot an anti-nausia pill in a little meatball for the car ride home. As we were walking through the lobby on our way to the car, Dot vomited. She wasn't even able to keep the small amount of food she had just taken down for a minute.

When Dot vomited in the lobby, the doctor's tone changed immediately. She said this was a potentially life threatening situation and that Dot needed to go back on fluids immediately. She recommended that Dot be kept under observation during the weekend or we might lose her. We had two choices. It was a Saturday and the cancer center closed to the public at noon. We could leave her under 24-hour supervision at the cancer center, but we wouldn't be able to visit her at all during the weekend. Alternately, we could take her back to the emergency clinic next door, where we could visit or even take her home if her condition improved. If we did this, we wouldn't have access to the veterinary specialists and comprehensive support that the cancer center provided until Monday. It was a really tough choice. If we left her at the cancer center, we couldn't even call in to check on her condition until early Monday morning. They said that if her condition deteriorated, they would call us. This was harsh, but I understood why they had this policy. The cancer center routinely deals with the sickest of the sick. All these pets owners are just as worried as we are. The doctor told us that if their overnight emergency team accepted inbound calls, and had to answer constant questions from worried owners, they wouldn't be able to provide the dedicated level of of care that their patients required. I appreciated their honesty. These were people who were more interested in keeping Dot alive than they were with customer relations.

We could do whatever we wanted, but if we left Dot at the cancer center with the specialists, we had to trust them. I brought in a blanket from the car and we sat with Dot for what seemed like the longest time on the lobby floor. I was very sad. I knew Dot wanted to go home. I also knew that these doctors saved Dash's life. They are amazing. We finally decided to leave her at the cancer center over the weekend, even though there is a small possibility that we will never see her again.

I have to remember that Dot's basic vital signs are good. These doctors are the very, very good. I have seen how quickly a dog can die if help is not nearby. If she was at home over the weekend and we had to get her back to an emergency vet in a hurry, there's a good chance we wouldn't make it.

It's going to be a very long and very lonely weekend. I know that Dot is not ready to die. If anyone can save her, she's in the right place. Please keep her in your thoughts this weekend.

Jade is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day


  1. Dear John- these are some of the saddest decisions one ever has to make, partly because you know the dog can't really understand the "good" of being left somewhere. You'll be in my thoughts.

    1. Thanks Joan! You've had dogs for as long as I have, so I know you understand what we're going through...

  2. It is really hard to leave your animal, but it sounds like she is in excellent hands. I'll be thinking of you all this weekend. Sending lots of positive thoughts Dot's way . . . .

    1. Just realized my blogger profile is private -- j is for Jennifer of wts fame. Still keeping you in my thoughts.

    2. Thanks Jennifer! I was so sorry to hear that you were recently in a similar situation with Nick..