A Week of Distress

The past two weeks have been quite stressful due to taking care of a very sick dog.  It has been difficult, and I have felt completely hopeless at times.  It is hard to have a sick pet and not be able to do anything to help them.  Especially when they refuse to eat anything and look at you like you are nuts!

Due to Charles’ past, which is all based on me trying to fill in the blanks, he is a very anxious dog.  He does not trust others very easily, which is something that is difficult to recondition and involves a lot of affirmation and love.  His bark alone terrifies people. He lunges and is reactive when strangers approach him.  It is something that I have been researching and trying to get him the best training (and myself) to prevent his reactivity.  He is also 117 pounds.  His size is intimidating, add the lunging and the barking and people want to run in the other direction.


Because of the above-mentioned factors, he must wear a muzzle when I take him to the vet.  The vet techs are wary of him.  He has never attacked anyone, it is his reactivity that is scary, yet they require him to be muzzled, which I understand. I feel bad because he gets very upset at being restricted.  My poor baby.  


I took him to the vet two Fridays ago.  He was very upset because he had to wear a muzzle and even turned his anger on me by biting down on my hand and swinging it while growling.  It was very upsetting and scary, but he did not break the skin.  He wanted to be left alone and I missed the cues.  Regardless, he held on tightly and it was not okay.  The vet could not see him, so I had to reschedule.

The following Wednesday, I brought him in with a basket muzzle.  We had to give him a sedative, per the veterinarian’s instructions and dropped him off.  Due to COVID, we could not stay with him, let alone go inside with him, which only upset him more.  After about nine hours of being at the vet – they needed to sedate him to examine him- and an expensive bill, he was home.


Charles sleeping off his sedation.

The minute he exited the vet’s office, he ran up to me and started to rub up against me.  It was so cute and sad all at the same time.  He had been in his muzzle for nine hours.  His face was marked up and it made me upset to think that he was in it all day.  It is torture for an animal that suffers from anxiety and trust issues.


Despite taking him to the vet and they determining there was nothing wrong with him, he still was not eating and was still vomiting.  I contacted the vet’s office and was told that someone would call me back.  It is stressful when you call a doctor, and it takes them three days to contact you.  In the meanwhile, I had contacted other veterinarian offices and described his condition.  I was met with awful potential diagnoses.  Cancer, he might only have a few hours left to live . . . literally worse case scenarios. 


I spent sleepless nights thinking researching and crying and praying that Charles would recover.  He will wake up and eat today!” I would convince myself.  The only good things were that he was still drinking water, chasing the cat, and still very active.  The bad thing, he did not have an appetite whatsoever. 


I made him boiled chicken, rice, eggs.  I mixed his kibble with wet food; I mixed his wet food with rice, chicken and rice, rice and kibble.  I tried everything in my attempts to get him to eat.  He did not budge.


On the third day of him note eating, I called the shelter I adopted him from.  I discussed potentially forfeiting him because I was being quoted astronomical amounts related to further testing, etc. I could not in good conscious let him suffer while figuring out how to pay for treatment.  The walls started caving in.


I struggled with the idea of having to forfeit him.  I did not want to do it.  I also did not want him to suffer if I could not financially afford further testing and treatment for him.  I thought the best-case scenario was to forfeit him for him to get the medical care I was told by other veterinarians he possibly needed. 

As the discussions continued, I continued to try to get him to eat.  A girlfriend from work suggested I give him chicken broth.  She said it might settle his stomach and get him to eat.  I sighed but called my boyfriend immediately and told him to give him broth.  It worked!


I started to see him make progress.  He started becoming interested in food again.  He started to eat a little bit at a time.  I was so happy and was able to sleep through the night without fearing losing him and/or forfeiting him.


His vet finally called and apologized profusely.  He is short staffed and was in surgery until 8:30 every night. I discussed Charles’ symptoms with him, and he said that it sounded like a blockage.  He gave me further suggestions and signs to look out for in the event his conditioned worsened. 


As of today, he is still regaining his appetite.  He still does not want anything to do with his kibble.  He is eating shredded boiled chicken, a little bit of his wet food and is back to wanting his jerky treats.  I am a happy girl with a very happy dog.