Annie March,2011 Age: 4 years
This little story was told to me by Dr. D., my daughter. I wrote the story as she would have written it (first person). It seems that I can only write these stories in this manner. Maybe the wording comes easier for me this way. This is also one of my favorites and actually to do justice to Annie and my daughter there is another story to be added to make Saving Annie complete. Sometime in the future I will write another.
Another week-end day spent working at the emergency clinic. Known to most veterinarians as plain EC. I worked part time at the EC with the intent of learning from veterinarians who worked there as a steady job. All EC vets are extremely smart, fast, and know their stuff. Most of them thrive on the fast pace and the adrenalin rush. I can honestly say that I learned a great deal during my part time stint there. But it is not my steady cup of tea. It takes a special person to work in EC just as the nurses and MDS that work in the human version of the emergency room and the EMTs that bring in the sick and injured.
The day began fairly routine with some animals that were very sick and others that were not so sick or hurt. I always tried to mentally prepare myself for any and all challenges but if a vet needed help there were three or four of us with great vet techs who were super fantastic at their jobs. Two lucky veterinarians are on the job from 10pm until 7:30am. Those hours are not necessarily slow. The EC in Austin is almost always busy, regardless of the time- day or night.
About mid morning I was about to take a short break when I was told I had a case waiting for me in one of the exam rooms. As I entered the room I saw 4 children that appeared to range in age from toddler to about 10 years of age. Their mother was standing with her back to the door. She did not turn around to look at me as I spoke her name, Mrs—– , nor when I introduced myself. I maneuvered through the maze of four children so that I was facing Mrs —. Her dress and demeanor exuded the quintessence of wealth.
After speaking to the lady I then saw a small red puppy that was sitting on top of its carrier. The pup made direct eye contact with me. I have no idea why- but I knew this puppy was going to end up as my dog. I’ve been told that I have ESP but I do not always have the special gift. This day, the feeling about the puppy was quite strong.
The lady said that she had bought the puppy from a breeder and paid $700 for her. “I have her registration papers and proof of vaccinations that the breeder gave me. We’ve only had the puppy for two days. Yesterday, late afternoon, she began having loose stools with a little bit of blood. She has been eating but not very much and this morning she did not want to eat her puppy chow.” So I explained to the lady that first we would get a fecal sample and test for parasites and also test for the parvovirus.
In the mean time the lady showed me the pup’s papers. I quickly scanned the papers and they were really nothing. There was no AKC registration and no proof of vaccinations. To be honest the lady had been had. As I waited on the test results I questioned the lady about the breeder’s home and if there were lots of dogs, cages, etc. She told me what I suspected. The breeder’s home and set up, sounded as if it were a puppy mill. The lady appeared angry after I told her that the puppy was not an AKC registered dog.
A tech brought me the results of the fecal and the parvo test. Well there was good news and bad news; as far as the lady was concerned. The parvo test was a weak positive. The fecal test- well that was a doozie. I had never seen such a wide range of parasites in a dog before. But this was just an example of what you get when you buy a dog from a pet store or a puppy mill. The lady’s facial expression changed from horrified to total disgust as I continued to explain the parasites and the parvovirus. The puppy had roundworms, hookworms, tape worms, whip worms, coccidi, and giardia. After telling the lady the news of the worms she then said, “well the breeder said I could bring her back when I talked to her this morning. That is really what I should do.” At that point I wanted to yell. So I then had to convince her that all was not lost because the parasites would be fairly easy to treat and since she had a mild case of parvo, the puppy would be on the road to improved health within 4-5 days if not sooner. Her stay at the EC would just be overnight and then she would pick up the puppy in the morning and take it to her regular vet to finish out a round of IV fluids and medications. During that process she would receive other instructions and medications for further treatment of the parasites. But the lady persisted that the puppy should go back to the breeder. “I don’t want to spend any more money on this dog.” I then said, “if you take her back, the breeder WILL NOT treat the puppy and she WILL DIE! Please understand that her treatment will not be that expensive.” Then the lady said, “I’ll call my husband and ask him what to do.” I left the room and when I returned a few minutes later, she told me that her husband had given the okay to begin treatment.
I explained the treatment of the parasites and parvo. The puppy would need some IV fluids that contained some special meds that would help knock out the parvo. The IV fluids would provide electrolytes, re-hydrate the puppy and as a bonus, IV fluids help a sick animal recoup faster and just plain make the animal feel better. I told the lady that she and her husband could return for a visit to see the puppy or they could just call. I assured her that the puppy would respond very well to treatment.
The puppy’s owner finally left with her unbelievably well mannered four children in tow. I called for a tech, who helped me weigh the puppy, I calculated the drops per minute for the IV fluids and set the rate on the pump. I then shaved a spot on one front leg a few inches above the paw. I applied the tourniquet so that the vein would be easier to find. I palpated for a vein (sometimes the vein is not visible, so you feel (palpate) for the vein and I was in luck when I found a tiny vein on my first try. I pushed the needle in and then removed the metal needle leaving in place a small plastic pliable needle (this plastic needle stays in the vein better than just a metal needle). I then connected the IV tubing to the plastic cannula. The IV fluids with the added meds were then ready to begin flowing. (I’d like to add that it is no easy feat to start an IV on a puppy or tiny kitten. It requires a steady hand and lots of patience.) Medications were then given to the puppy by mouth to treat the wide range of parasites. The tech and I were still in luck because the puppy readily swallowed the not so good tasting medications. We then carried the puppy with the attached IV and pump stand to the back and placed the puppy on towels in a cage. I asked the tech to watch the puppy for a few minutes to ensure the puppy did not vomit the medications. With the puppy cooperating with the meds and the IV, I left the treatment area quickly since I had another case waiting to be examined.
That evening I checked on the puppy before my shift ended. She was sleeping peacefully. My day had been tiring. Dealing with the puppy’s owner had been an ordeal. When I got home I tended to my brood of pets and ate a bowl of cereal before falling into bed at 8:30 pm. I was in deep sleep when my cell phone rang. I looked at the time on my phone before answering. It was 11:30 pm and who in the world was calling me this late. It was one of the vet’s from the EC. He said that the parvo puppy’s owner was there and wanted to have the puppy euthanized, “because his wife feared that they would get attached to the puppy and it would then die.” With those words, I was then fully awake. I almost shouted, “What did you just say? That puppy is not critically ill and she will be just fine after a few days.” Dr. C. said, “well, all of us here tried to persuade him not to have the puppy put down but he said his wife was adamant that she no longer wanted to get more involved with a dog that could die. We have called several people and tried to get someone here to take her and then we thought of you.” Holy cow! I could not believe what I was hearing. “Okay. Tell the man to wait there, have the release papers ready for him to sign the puppy over to me. I’ll be there soon.”
Hastily, I got dressed and drove the 30 minutes it takes to get to the EC. The man was waiting. I greeted him as I entered the waiting room. He merely nodded his head in response. Someone handed me the papers to sign and then he signed his name to release the puppy to me. He handed me the paper, and without saying a word, walked out the door. I went to the treatment area and asked one of the techs to get the puppy ready because she was leaving with me. I did not want the expense of the EC and I could easily treat her at home.
As I drove home with the puppy in a large dog crate in the back of my SUV, I remembered my thoughts when I first saw this little red dog. My ESP had been right again. Since this is proving to be a long post, I’ll continue with the puppy’s story in a future post. By the way- the former owners had named her Annie, which I thought was a fitting name for this little red haired Aussie.
Post and Photograph: Yvonne