Some may think I was being overly dramatic, but I have to tell you I've seen many pets near death in my life (when in high school I helped out a veterinarian twice a week) and I'm quite certain I nearly lost my puppy last Tuesday.
We got up and walked at 5 a.m. Tuesday like we usually do. We were rounding the last leg of the block when Bear stopped to investigate what looked like a paper towel on the curb. He's a fast little devil and before I could yank him back he had it in his mouth. I snatched him up and stuck two fingers in his mouth to flick the object out. I had it in my grasp but he swallowed before I could get it out. He had some kind of slimy drool dripping from his lips. My thought was "egg... paper towel."
We continued on. About 20 or 30 feet later he started heaving and spit up something on the opposite curb. It was still dark and I didn't really stop to look at the item but it seemed like maybe he'd spit up as much as he'd taken in, so I was good. He was good.
But he wasn't. As we came around the corner toward our house he started slowing down and then finally plopped down. This? Never happens. He's still pretty much a puppy. Incidentally, it was his first birthday on Monday.
I got him into the house where he spread out on the tile floor and went still. Very, very still. His respiration slowed and his heartbeat slowed even more. I bent over him and tried to turn him over and he felt like molten lead. His eyes were glazing over and he really looked bad. It was 5:30 a.m.
I ran upstairs to put on clothes (I was pretty much wearing my pajama top and sweatpants) and told Bob I was going to rush Bear to Charlotte to the Veterinary ER. I didn't know exactly where it was, but had a general idea. He asked if he should come and I said "yes," but then it became obvious that he would want to brush his teeth and put on clothes. I told him I couldn't wait. He put Bear in the car next to me and I lit out.
I called Sarah as I drove down the road. She was fast asleep, but popped wide awake when I told her something was wrong with Bear. She told me where the clinic was. As I drove toward Charlotte, Bear didn't seem to be getting any worse, but he was not getting better, either. He was just lying there, eyes partially opened and still.
I turned onto Westinghouse and then onto Tryon and he suddenly sat up and looked around. As we pulled into the parking lot of the ER, I saw one vehicle there and it was lit up and unlocked. I carried him into the building, but he was not prone by this time. He was up, looking around, and I was carrying him upright with my hand between his front legs and on his chest. He seemed alert.
No one came to the desk when I entered. I wandered around the clinic, but did not go through the "Authorized Personnel Only" doors. I called "Hello? Hello?" several times. By this time Bear was wanting to get down. So I snatched one of their disposable rope leashes off a hook on the wall and walked him around more, still calling out. No response.
So we went back outside and wandered around on the grass, Bear acting completely normal and me watching his every move.
He seemed fine. I told him we'd go home and then see Dr. Curtsinger later if he was still not feeling well. He seemed to think that was a good idea, going over to the car and looking up at me to be put in.
And so we drove home.
He was fine the rest of the day, although pretty quiet. Especially considering we still had my parents and their dog, and sister Julia and nephew Jake all here. I took the day off. There was just too much stuff going on, with Bear and the visitors and Dad's brake problems. And Nate had an interview with the Leroy Springs Foundation about their loan program. Throughout the day Bear stuck close to me, but he does all the time, and I periodically looked at him and said, "I'm glad you're not dead."
The next day I went back to work. We had an all-day planning retreat off-site and at 4:45 Nate called and said, "I think we should take Bear to the vet. He's acting weird. He doesn't act happy to see me and he just lays there." So I told him to pile him in the car and drive straight up to Curtsinger. I'd meet him there. Nate walked in just as they were closing up shop, but they very cheerfully turned stuff back on and ushered him in.
They ran a bunch of bloodwork and determined he had no serious system issues. "He's quite depressed though," they said. "Definitely not our Bear." The final verdict was that whatever he ingested probably had irritated his esophagus and stomach. They gave him fluid under the skin to pep him up a bit and then a shot of something to sooth his gastrointestinal system.
Bear was back to normal in just a couple of hours and by the next morning he was is usual peppy self. Curtsinger's office called to ask about him and they were relieved to hear of his recovery. And here I will tell you: there is no reason that you can't have a vet that treats your pet like a valued member of the family. If your vet doesn't give you this kind of personal attention, then fire him or her.