Anyone with pets will understand this.
There is nothing more frustrating than a sick animal.
They can’t effectively communicate with you what’s going on, how they’re feeling, or what they just licked.
Aside from the obvious signs — vomiting, limping — you pretty much can only guess what’s ailing them.
On Saturday evening, just before dinner, Sunny, our Pomeranian-toy fox terrier mix, started acting strangely.
And when I say “strangely,” I mean “stranger than usual.”
She’s typically a strange dog to begin with, often acting more like a cat than a canine. She likes to hide out under the bed or in the back bedroom, where it’s cooler. She’s super picky about treats. And she doesn’t like anyone coming near here when she’s sleeping, not even me.
So we did find it odder than normal that Saturday evening when she wouldn’t come out of her dog bed in the back room, despite tempting her with her favorite treat. She was utterly disinterested and it was disconcerting.
I picked her up and she could barely walk. She was hunched over — as dogs can be, anyway — and her tail was tucked between her legs. When I touched her stomach area — it’s good to feel around to see if there are any injuries or pain — she whimpered a little. This wasn’t good.
It doesn’t help that just last week there was a report of three dog deaths on Maui linked to dog treats laced with antifreeze. I started to panic.
So I called Feathers and Fur Animal Hospital in Kailua, which offers a 24-hour emergency care service. (Very helpful; we’ve used it a lot.)
We had taken the dogs to a nearby park that morning, and Sunny — she’s very kolohe — ran into a cluster of trees that she knows is off-limits, with Opae and Indy running after her. It took us awhile to get her out of the thick vegetation and, when she finally emerged, she was licking her lips and almost grinning at us.
So she could have eaten something in there, maybe rat poison pellets, or licked a cane toad.
She wasn’t vomiting, but it was obvious her stomach was bothering her, the vet said. And the fact that Sunny hadn’t eaten anything or sipped water in more than four hours was another bad sign.
The vet left the room to put together a list of things she wanted to do, along with the price breakdown. Not that the cost would have mattered; we would have done anything to make Sunny feel better.
I was sitting on the floor with Sunny, who looked so sad and pathetic, wrapped in a beach towel. I tried to offer her a small piece of chicken jerky — her favorite — that I had kept in my pocket. She wouldn’t even sniff it.
Then the vet tech came in and sat with me on the floor, next to Sunny. She showed me the list of things the vet was going to do: blood work, test her pancreas, outfit her with an IV, and keep her overnight, possible for two days.
The damage? $780.
Sunny watched me sign the invoice and make plans to leave her at the hospital.
Then something happened.
As soon as the vet tech left, Sunny started pawing me for treats. I pulled out the chicken jerky, broke off a small piece, and fed it to her. She snatched it out of my fingers and gobbled it down, like she hadn’t eaten for years.
And she kept eating. Everything we could give her.
The vet came back, laughed and said, “Well, that’s a good sign. I guess she’s feeling better.”
She got some fluids put under her skin — called subcutaneously and is slowly absorbed into the blood stream — and we left that evening.
She’s been fine ever since. In fact, the next morning, I took her hiking up Makapu‘u (below) and she was perky and energetic.
I don’t doubt she was sick or that her stomach was upsetting her. But I do think Sunny saw that roster of treatment and panicked, too, saying, in her own way, “Look at me! I’m fine! I’m eating! Let’s go home!”
While I’m relieved she’s not really sick — or sick anymore — I did shake my head at her, especially when we pulled into the Burger King drive-thru after leaving the hospital and she practically ordered her own cheeseburger.
Dogs. You gotta love ’em.
Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes and prayers via social media! We definitely felt your positive vibes!