Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Small Victory

Day +257

Ann and I had just gotten back from the hematologists office and had just finished lunch when I heard a sharp howl of pain from outside. I opened the door and our neighbor's little doberman puppy was dragging itself from the street into the neighbor's front yard. A pickup was a few yards down the street, slowing down with it's break lights on. I had momentary eye contact with the driver, and we both knew what he had done. Then as I crossed to the puppy he hit the gas and accelerated for the thoroughfare at the end of our street. He escaped all responsibility for his crime a few seconds and a right turn later.

What an unprincipled and conniving coward.

The puppy was in a very bad state. There was profuse bleeding from the mouth and anus. The truck had actually run over the puppy because feces had been forced out of it and was smeared on the road at the point of impact. None of her ribs felt broken and she didn't cry when I examined her as gently as I could. Nor did she complain when I felt her head and neck for loose bone under the skin. However, her right front leg layed at an odd angel and I assumed it to be broken so I didn't touch it.

I left the dog and banged on the neighbor's door. She answered in a bath robe and looked at me bewildered, and I don't think she fully processed what was going on until she saw the little dog. Then she fell apart and started crying.

"Do you have your car"? I asked. Her husband had taken it to work, he wasn't going to be home until later tonight. The shivering little puppy obviously couldn't wait that long. "Where is your vet?", turns out she didn't have one. If you have pets you really should have a regular vet or at least know where the ones are near you.

About this time Ann had made it from the house and trotted up behind me. I told her to get our Saturn and pull it up into the front yard as close as she could. The neighbor started complaining about the dog not really being theirs, it was a stray that wandered in, and not knowing how she was going to pay for it's treatment. Like leaving it to bleed to death on her front lawn was somehow humane! News flash, if you allow a stray to come into your home and you feed it and give it shelter then you and no one else is responsible for it's well being. If you can't handle that then call the ASPCA or a pet adoption agency and they will place the animal in a good home.

As an aside Ann actually ran today! Maybe it was the adrenaline but she fairly sprinted from the neighbor's yard back to the house to get the SUV. I guess the baby stem cells are getting the upper hand on the flu and she does say that she feels "a little better today". I had to remind her to slow down (I was afraid she would fall when running). So by the time she pulled the SUV up next to me and the puppy the neighbor (Christina) was dressed and we piled in and raced to the nearest vet. Which it turns out was a huge mistake.

You see the nearest vet doesn't actually have a Doctor as part of it's permanent staff. Which was explained to us in a very "pass-the-buck" manner by the receptionist. Right...so if you have a pet and live in the Baton Rouge/Denham Springs area I would not recommend using the vet located at the intersection of Range and Florida. You apparently can't depend on anyone with a veterinary degree actually being present when you arrive.

So we headed back into the SUV and got directions to a vet, with a veterinarian on the premises, thanks to OnStar (I really can't say enough nice things about them). Ann drove like she was racing, hazards on and honking at people who must have thought we were nuts. Meanwhile the little dog's breathing had become shallower and shallower. When it turned into short pants I knew she was going into shock. As we got closer to the vet we hit more traffic and the puppy's breathing started to become labored and she lapsed into unconsciousness.

Finally we made it and I carried the little dog directly to the OR, while Ann waited in the car. The vet, a tall curly grey haired man with a very kind face and wire rimmed glasses went to work straight away checking for breaks and other trauma. IV fluids were started and the puppy's leg was wrapped up. The staff kept asking "who's dog it was" and Christina kept looking at me like I was going to jump up and say "Me! It's mine"! However, the vet kept cross examining her and she finally admitted that she had been feeding the puppy and letting it stay in their house at night. She owned up to it being her responsibility and she didn't want it to die so "please do anything you can to save it".

I don't think she is a bad person. Just that she was thinking that her and her husband don't have many resources and she was afraid that the vet bill was going to be outrageous. It's an understandable reaction. I remember thinking "How are we going to pay for all this?" briefly when Ann's problems began. She must have been thinking the same thing when the vet went on to lay out the list of problems the puppy has: probable internal injuries, possible skull fracture, broken leg, loss of blood and so on. The vet explained that they have ways of working things out, payment plans, etc. Once that was out of the way she looked noticeably relieved.

I explained to her that I needed to get Ann home, and if she needed a ride back she could call my mobile. Christina thanked me tearfully and by the time I was leaving the puppy had opened its eyes again. I guess thats a good sign, but I don't know enough about dogs, veterinary medicine or internal injuries to be a good judge.

The vet's official prognosis is "guarded", so the little dog has a chance. At least that's a small victory.


Susan Carrier said...

OMG - I now have so many people on my Baton Rouge "hit list": the slow-to-respond oncologist, the hit-and-run driver, the vetless vet office. I'm glad that your neighbor redeemed herself.

Keep us posted on the puppy AND Ann!

Lee said...

Chris & Ann - you are so wonderful for helping that little puppy. Please keep us posted on his progress, too! (Will he start a blog?)

kt said...

we need more people like you and ann in this world.