Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Animals are important too. A thoughtful interlude

Just to break the monotony of the incompetence of NHS Wales and the Health Boards, I wanted to write a post about my little dog and his frighteningly sudden health problem. I say 'little' but my boy pulls on his lead, struts about like a Rottweiller, and scratches the ground with his back paws whenever another canine crosses his path. He's tough - especially on rats and those despicable cats - and regularly digs deep holes in the garden, presumably looking for foxes or, perhaps, Badgers. All this makes it more surprising that he became seriously ill when I took him to my daughter's last weekend. She has two Labradours and Jake has 'designs' on mating with one of them, futily of course.

However, he was car-sick before we left the M42 for the A38 to Hilton. It wasn't much, but I still stopped at the services to walk him in the fresh air. Happily, we arrived in Hilton and Jake was ready to pursue his chocolate Labradour with the enthusiasm of any Casanova. Unfortunately, after a comfort break in the rear garden, he was sick over the carpet as he re-entered the house. We all thought that the culprit was one of the Labs, but it soon became apparent that Jake had suddenly become listless and generally unwell. He was vomitting all through the night, and I was horrified to see blood mixed in with his sputum. After cleaning up the many patches of mess, I decided that he must see a vet - urgently - even though it was early on a Sunday morning. My daughter called her vet and a half hour later he was examining a very sick dog. Jake was badly dehydrated and was put on a drip, even though he tried nip the vet before his leg was shaved. I found the process upsetting and suddenly realised how much I needed Jake to get better. I was numb when the vet said that he probably had Pova ( a deadly virus that causes necrosis of the intestines ), and could only watch while two shots of antibiotic were injected into Jake's nape. Next, with the help of a nurse, Jake had a leg shaved, before the vet inserted a drip into his leg. Then, after a blood sample was taken, the nurse placed my sullen-looking pet into a cage, and the vet said that Jake was very seriously ill and we would have wait for a call later that evening. When I went outside to the car I realised that my face was wet with tears. My daughter drove us home, where we both sat looking at the phone.

When the phone rang later, the vet said that Jake was bleeding a great deal from his bottom. He added that Jake had a 50/50 chance of surviving, which stunned the whole family. Not one of us thought Jake would die - it was inconceivable, especially as he had seemed so well the previous day. We all went to bed early, where I was praying that Jake would be well, even though I felt that he would die after losing so much blood. Amazingly, the vet telephoned my daughter at 11.30pm to say that Jake had fought to stay alive and would ( he said ) recover with a strict diet, a lot of caring, and another few nights of concnetrated treatment at their 'hospital'. It was wonderful news, but we had to wait for two antibiotic injections a day, the slowness of the drip, and ( most tiringly ) desparately awaiting updates on Jake's progress.

Four days later, the miracle was complete and we were told that he definitely did not have Pova. Further, we were asked if we would visit him, with some boiled chicken, as he wouldn't eat any of their food. Liesl ( my favorite daughter ) and I entered the waiting room, clutching two warm boxes of chicken. To our surprise the senior nurse came in walking Jake on a lead, whilst holding the drip in the air. Jake was limping on his bandaged leg, looking from Liesl to me as if to see who would give him the most sympathy. The nurse handed the bag to liesl and the lead to me, then and Jake broke the tension by burying his nose in the first lot of chicken, wolfing it all down in seconds. The next container took longer to empty, followed by an unexpected jump into my lap. "Scratch me - a lot" he seemed to say. After being allowed to take him outside for a short walk, with Jake spending most of his freedom standing on three legs, we were granted permission to return at 5.00pm with more chicken.

At the promised hour, we returned to the joyous news that we could take the patient home. I paid the bill and clutched him tightly until we arrived home. The next day we wanted to go back to Cardiff but I wasn't happy with Jake looking so listless. So, against protests from my 'ex', I returned to the vets and asked for a second consultation. The vet was unhappy with Jake's condition and said that his inital thought that it was Pancreatitis was looking likely. I asked for a blood test, even though the result would not be back until the following monday. Also, I requested something to stop Jake's travel sickness and we were given two tablets, as well as a packet of tablets to give our little soldier, in the event that the blood test was positive. Once again, I paid the bill, happily, and we were on our way home to Cardiff. Unforunately, the rain had other ideas and our return journey took five hours, thanks to the M50 being closed, and my SatNav proving as reliable as a Timex watch.

So far, I've learned two lessons; I've never been a pet-lover, but I was transformed into an idiot who was prepared to spend his last dime in order to get Jake better. Secondly, I wondered, "Why isn't there an NHS for animals ?". I must be nuts, because I wouldn't even call myself an animal lover. Then I regained my senses when I realised that if the NHS had to provide animal care, there'd be a sharp increase in pet deaths, as well as their poorly served owners ! R.W.

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