When we moved to Ayrshire we stuck with our existing vet practice; after all they’d seen us through some scary medical emergencies and were well acquainted with our furry suicide squad. This arrangement has meant increased travel time however: 35 minutes to the regular vet in optimal conditions, and longer to their out-of-hours cover in the heart of Glasgow, which attracts roadworks and queues like horse poop attracts Beagles. We’ve always known that sooner or later we’d have to find somewhere more local, and earlier this week Beanie (who else?) forced the issue.
As usual, our latest medical drama came completely out of the blue. In the space of twelve hours she went from a picture of health, happily flying over agility jumps in our garden, to a hunched, sickly little doggy who couldn’t stop vomiting.
We took her to our regular vet and we went through the time-honored Beagle-with-unhappy-tummy conversation that always starts with the question: “has she eaten anything she shouldn’t?” To a Beagle owner, this is a bit like asking if the Loch Ness monster exists. “Well, I haven’t seen anything myself, and I don’t think so, but I can’t be 100% sure”. The vet had a thorough feel of her abdomen, couldn’t detect anything, and sent us home with strong anti-sickness and antibiotic shots. A perfectly reasonable course of action, and with almost any other dog that would have been the end of it. But this is Beanie we’re talking about, and by late evening her condition was deteriorating, so Susan hunted down a local out-of-hours vet service which in this case was “Vets Now” in nearby Kilmarnock.
Most of Beanie’s night-time emergencies go something like this: she gets out of the car all sorry for herself – clearly ill – but instantly rallies when she meets the vet, going from hangdog to winner of this year’s “waggiest rear end” prize in a split-second. A simple treatment is prescribed (usually not much different from the one already given by our regular vet), I unburden my wallet, and The Beanster makes a miraculous recovery. We’re relieved, but left wondering if we over-reacted in taking her there in the first place.
Unfortunately that’s not how it played out this time. Beanie managed a very half-hearted wag or two, but continued to look like she was in considerable distress. It became clear that she was going to be spending the night there, for x-rays, blood tests and an IV drip to keep her hydrated. Just like booking into a world-class hotel, the level of service was absolutely top notch, but so was the price. When I saw the initial bill I almost needed some medical attention myself, but this was for my little girl so it was a no-brainer. Soon Susan, Biggles and myself were heading back home in the car with one empty crate and a redundant dog-lead. I knew none of us (with the probable exception of Biggles) would be getting any sleep that night.
An hour or so later the night vet rang us to relay the results of the tests. There were no concrete signs of a blockage but again – as with Nessie – the lack of a positive does not prove the negative. Equally her bloodwork showed only that she was fighting something, possibly gastroenteritis or pancreatitis. However, the vet did note that at one point she thought she could feel something in Beanie’s rear end. She stuck a (hopefully well gloved) finger up there and extracted a small piece of plastic, after which “some very foul smelling stuff came out”. Even on her sickbed, Beanie was still managing to entertain us with a little toilet humour. But we were now into wait-and-see territory until the morning; the remainder of the night was filled with medical Googling, tv therapy, and precious little sleep.
By the morning diarrhea had been added to the symptoms, but otherwise there was little change. Exploratory surgery for a possible blockage was very much on the table, and we asked to come in to see Beanie and discuss this face-to-face. During the mercifully short journey my mind replayed the build-up to the stomach surgery she’d had as a pup. Back then Beanie was young and otherwise in the peak of health, but now she was older and weakened, and I had to work hard to suppress the thought that this could be the last time I’d see her.
After a few minutes in the waiting room Beanie was brought out to see us. She was very a sorry sight, subdued and slow moving, with a little blue bandage on one leg for her IV hookup. We all went into an examination room to wait for the vet, whereupon Beanie immediately sicked a little clear fluid onto the floor. Almost as soon as this was cleared away, and just as I was crouching down to give her a kiss and an ear-fondle, she had a sudden attack of liquid diarrhea, and what’s more, it was rose colored: bloody. Even as the vet arrived, Beanie was still spray-painting the room from her back passage. As distressing as this was to see (and smell), once it finished, Beanie appeared substantially more comfortable, and the vet took this as a sign that a blockage was less probable. So more wait-and-see, and another night away from us, but at least surgery was on hold for the time being.
Over the next 24 hours we made regular phone calls to check on her progress, and during these conversations we told the staff about Beanie’s deceptively introvert personality, her less-than-stoic attitude to pain and discomfort, and her appreciation for a good blanky. Her condition improved slightly overnight, and a different anti-sickness medication was tried. When we visited her the next morning she was carried out to see us in the vet’s arms, wrapped in a soft clean blanket like a little newborn baby. This was the kind of thing we’d do for her, not the sort of thing you expect from a veterinary surgeon, and I suspected that Beanie had improved enough to use her irresistible Beagle charms on her carers. This theory was borne out in the ensuing conversation; she had a heated pad to lie on, her own supply of frequently changed blankies, and a quiet kennel in a position that kept her away from other furry residents while allowing her to see the staff going about their business. She wasn’t just booked into a world class doggy hotel, she was in the blummin’ royal penthouse suite! Very fitting for my little Princess Beanie. And as happens with royalty, we were granted only a short but waggy audience with her highness; when she grew fatigued we were politely but firmly dismissed, allowing her to retire to her private chambers for further rest. Public engagements are so exhausting.
Medically her condition was improving; she was taking small amounts of food and keeping some of it down, and the diarrhea was on the wane. There was still cause for concern however: her medication should have stopped all regurgitation by now, but it hadn’t. So we had another period of wait-and-see, but it was mercifully short; by the next phone update it was clear Beanie had turned the corner. She would be spending a third night in her suite at the Waldorf Astoria, but all being well, she’d be back home slumming it with us the next day.
To celebrate, we took The Bigglet to our local pet store in the hope it might brighten him up. He’d been very subdued during all of this, more clingy than usual, and moping along on his walks. While perusing the dog aisle I spotted his favorite-ever toy, an eight-squeakered monkey. His own monkey had given him a year of solid enjoyment before being retired due to wear and tear, and though he liked the alligator that replaced it, monkey’s shoes had been hard to fill. Taking advantage of a three-for-two offer, we came back with two brand new monkeys, a soft squeaky toy for Beanie and a couple of pig ears. The pig ears went down well as you can imagine, but the monkey was even more successful; I lost count of the number of times he scampered from one end of the house to the other with the clone of his long-lost friend squeaking away in his mouth.
Monkey’s about to go for another tour of the house
It’s great to have Monkey again Dad, but I still miss Beanie
Beanie continued to improve overnight, but it was only when one nurse described her condition as “all waggy” that we truly knew she was out of the woods. Together with Biggles we collected her and brought her home today, and though still fragile and easily fatigued, she’s doing great. Home may not be a top-flight hotel, and her little day-bed doesn’t have a heated pad, but she’s very happy to be back.
There’s lots to do when you’re back from an enforced holiday. For starters, the garden & house have to be thoroughly re-sniffed.
Then there’s the flies. It’s clear that Biggles hasn’t been doing his share of catching them. If you want a job done well, you’ve got to do it yourself!
But what could be attracting all the flies? Why do they seem to be so interested in my bum?
So many other things for a little girl to do!
Chicken soup to be eaten..
Tickly IV insertion spots to be licked
Sod it, I’m done for the day. Call me when it’s chicken soup time again.
Finally, a little plug for the veterinary practice that got Beanie through this latest scare: http://mbmvetgroup.co.uk/. Not only was the level of care truly fit for a princess, their final bill was very reasonable. It turns out that it’s just the out-of-hours admissions to the doggy Waldorf Astoria that cost the big bucks; normal daytime stuff doesn’t hurt the credit card nearly so much, even if your pup gets the royal penthouse suite.