My life around dogs gives me constant ideas for future posts. Today this post comes from my heart. I have a dear friend Jon whose dog Hailey is quite sick. Problems started about a month ago when she had bout of pancreatitis. I had never heard of this before in a dog and listened to Jon tell me how it presented.
Hailey fought through this issue only to be presented with a problem weeks later having bits of her food going down her wind pipe instead of her esophagus resulting in a type of pneumonia. Her Border Collie DNA makes it hard to believe that this could happen as she loves to be outdoors with her pack friends for an adventure.
What strikes me the most is how the impact of our dog’s being ill affects us greatly. Jon, a dog trainer, loves his profession and is an expert on various breeds and training at all different levels; he is brilliant when it comes to solving countless behavioural issues. His years of experience and devotion to the canine world constantly motivates me to learn more.
His dog Hailey is his main squeeze and they are inseparable. She is very much a regular at the off leash. Weeks ago he showed up without her and the other walkers could tell he was not himself. Normally engaging in conversation Jon was quiet and reserved. It was strange to not hear Hailey bark announcing her entrance and encouraging the ball to be thrown. It was obvious to us that he was wracked with worry when telling us she was at his vet’s and it was quite serious.
My husband and I have experienced our share of trips to the vet with three dogs over our twenty-five years of marriage. Abby lost an entire claw months ago and had a third of her toe amputated to prevent future issues. We had weeks of limited walking, no stairs and trips to the vet for bandage changes. Her toe healed abnormally slowly and was a cause of concern; thank goodness things changed and our almost thirteen year old gal bounced back.
Abby also had surgery to remove a lump off her nose when she was very young. The vet suspected a possible cancer. I clearly remember being at my job in retail and worrying days before the surgery and the whole day of. The phone would not ring fast enough to say the surgery was complete and all was well.
Earlier this year we were on pins and needles wondering if she had cancer in a bone in her leg. Our worry resulted in more sleepless nights and a lack of appetite for our family. Thankfully it was a false alarm and advanced arthritis was suggested; some pain meds were given to help with a chronic limp if over exerted.
Dogs are clearly family members in my mind. We love them, and share with them our living space, our time and memories galore over many years. When they hurt our hearts are heavy. I think those without family pets don’t really “get it,” it being the deep bond that we share. I do think for people who are single or without kids this gap is even more magnified.
I have experienced the loss of half a dozen friends’ dogs in the past year alone. I wonder what to say or what to do when things are not in a dog’s favor. Sometimes talking about it can make a friend more upset. I try to be available to listen and let their conversation be the guide.
In some situations a hug is just what the doctor ordered; being available for a walk without conversation can also be just the support needed. My friend Shelley summed it up perfectly today when we both touched base with our concern for Jon and feeling helpless. She said that dogs make us so happy 99% of the time; only 1% of the time totally fills us with grief.
I do hear stories of dogs requiring emergency surgeries, or accidents that happen; it can be really depressing. On the other hand I also hear of dogs pulling through when the odds were against them or miracles happening that cannot be explained. These stories are the best to share! If you are presently caring for a sick dog my heart goes out to you.
Fortunately we are blessed with the good far out weighing the bad being dog owners. I know that I will always be truly grateful for my decades spent with canine friends and their owners.
Hailey was put to sleep on June 24th 2012 after struggling with complications from her pancreatitis. Jon did everything he could do for her, with his vet’s guidance and T.L.C for many weeks. We will miss this spunky girl at the off leash park, especially her unmistakable bark 🙂
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