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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.


About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Oh Nancy,
    Your poor puppy. I know how hard it is to see that precious dog of yours in pain. When I read about your dogs, I can feel how much joy they bring to your life. You are all so blessed to have found each other 🙂

    Maggie is lucky to have such a great person to love and take care of her. I am sure that she knows that you will do whatever is best for her (btw I am so pleased to know that there is acupuncture for dogs).

    I am going to ask my acupuncturist about therapies for animals – I never thought about it before, but it makes a lot of sense.

    I hope you and Maggie can find a great treatment.
    Am sending you and your dogs enormous bushels of love and healing thoughts.
    Kiss Maggie’s nose for me (only if she likes that kind of thing)

    .-= laura´s last blog ..Letter to Skytrain Dude =-.


    Aug 25, 2009
  2. Nancy,

    What an awful thing for you and Maggie to go through. Our pets are just as much family as anyone and it is terrible when they are scared and in pain and they can’t tell us what is wrong. I hope she gets better soon. Give her a big kiss on the nose for me.

    .-= Karan´s last blog ..Yes, Virginia, there IS a Panty Fairy =-.


    Aug 25, 2009
  3. I’m glad that you have options for her care. It is very scary when our dependents are ill. It’s nice that she has you to look out for her.


    Aug 27, 2009
  4. michael

    It is a hard decision to make sometimes. My Shih-tzu had stopped eating, acting odd, lying in the rain outside shivering, but not coming in. That was an easy decision. But they couldn’t figure out what was wrong and said he wasn’t in pain.

    I finally got him eating again by force feeding yogurt. It didn’t last. He stopped eating again and this time the loss of weight was extremely fast. It was Saturday, and he started trying to bite me if I tried to force feed him. Sunday night I couldn’t wait any more. He had urinated on the bed and he went into convulsions.

    I had him put down. I didn’t believe he wasn’t in pain, but I simply couldn’t put him down if there was a chance of helping him, especially if they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. (after many tests, xrays and examinations by multiple vets)

    I still wonder if I did the right thing. Should I have taken him in sooner, to waste away and die amoung strangers? Should I have had him put down sooner?

    I can’t imagine how hard it must be on parents in the United States going through the same thing, except with their children. Should I go to the hospital? Can we afford that treatment? Do we have to sell the house? Declare bankruptcy?


    Aug 30, 2009
  5. michael

    By the way, that was three years ago, and it still breaks me up to think about. He was my first real dog relationship. We went everywhere together.

    I still miss him.


    Aug 30, 2009

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