Of my two daschunds, I didn’t anticipate it would be sleek, black, athletic Maggie The Adventuress who would have the back problem and I certainly didn’t think it would occur when she’s only just turned four.
Saturday afternoon she was reluctant to jump up onto the couch, Sunday morning she was increasingly inactive (I attributed it to the rainy day -she hates rain!), Sunday evening I was starting to get quite concerned and Monday at 5am when she woke me up to go outside (unusual) she didn’t return. Or not for a long time by which point I was panicked, convinced she’d crept away to die. Thankfully she came back after about 20 minutes, but she was clearly very bad by that point – she could only just barely walk, and when I picked her up she moaned in pain constantly as well as trembled from head to tail.
Then came the question most dog owners will face at some point: To make an emergency call to the vet, or to hang tight and see what happens? There is only one clinic in Yellowknife, and two vets, one of whom is on holiday. I opted to wait til the clinic opened.
The earliest I could get Maggie in was 2:15. The vet immediately suspected back problems, and two x-rays later showed no other issues (I thought perhaps she’d swallowed a stone – dogs do that sometimes). Maggie is confined to her crate for 3 weeks and medicated with Deramaxx. Odds are high that she has intervertebral disk disease – in short, a disk between her vertebrae burst which very often leads to paralysis of the hind legs. As you can imagine it’s extremely painful.
I broke down and wept last night — cried for this little creature who is traumatized, cried to think of her – her!- to lose her spunkiness, and cried for us all, who are still new to this city and without our community (oh yes, dogs have their own canine communities!) and having to go to a vet we’ve never met in such severe circumstances, and nobody up here knows that she is a downtown eastside daschund who had her own opinions on homelessness and attended many a Stand for Housing and was continually on the lookout for any politician’s heels to nip if he/she didn’t care that people were sleeping outside for goodness sake.
I wept. Thank God for friends and telephones. A trio of friends (thanks A, J, M) walked me through my panic and worst-case-scenario-thinking and reminded me that Maggie, in contrast to her mom, won’t consider herself diminished, as long as the pain is managed. They also gave practical suggestions, like getting ramps, and vitamin supplements. Best of all, they reminded me that being up here was a good decision, this experience notwithstanding.
Thank God too for a nurse who works with me who gave me the name of two women up here who practice Reikki and Acupuncture on pets. I tell you, this place never ceases to amaze me. Women who offer alternative health to pets in Yellowknife? Who would have guessed?
Now never in a thousand years would I — I who only reluctantly dress my dogs and only because it is -30 here in winter — never in a thousand years would I have expected myself to shell out money for alternative health practices on a dog. But anyone with pets or kids will know that something primal happens when a dependent creature needs you: You discover parts of yourself you didn’t know existed. Parts of you that will consider any option that holds possibility for recovery. Including Reikki and Acupuncture.
Thank God too for my ING savings account specifically for Dog Emergencies. It covered my vet visit and will cover initial sessions for the alternative therapies.
I’ll keep you posted. If any readers have used Reikki or Acupuncture on your pets, I’d sure appreciate hearing about it.
ps: many, many thanks to those of you who left comments on my facebook page. It really helped me not feel so alone.