I’d be the first to say that raising dogs and raising children are two different activities. Sure, dogs learn both good and bad habits from each other, and they have emotional needs and the maturity of a three-year-old. They argue and get jealous, make up and play, and work together on arts and crafts (usually using my lawn) in ways similar to children. But they’ll never reach the same level of complexity or depth of understanding that children will. And as heartbreaking as a sick dog can be, a sick child is infinitely worse.
On the other hand…
Last Friday, Kaylee caught a stomach bug. Both dogs are both housetrained and pee-pad-trained, so generally there’s little cleanup to do. But Kaylee’s the poo-first-ask-questions-later type when she gets sick. Wherever she is at the time, that’s where she goes.
I wasn’t particularly worried during the first few bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, but when the back end began to produce liquid that was more red than brown, I called the vet. (It was actually quite a bit more panicked than that, especially since I can’t drive anywhere due to the medication I’m still on, and I’m still in some pain and a lot of exhaustion, but I’m too tired right now to recreate AAH AAH SHE’S GONNA DIE in its original form.)
An x-ray revealed that she hadn’t eaten anything dogs shouldn’t eat and our awesome vet suspected Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) which sounds a lot more severe in this wikipedia article than it did when the vet explained it. In short, occasionally when small dogs get a stomach bug, their guts get so inflamed they bleed. It can be deadly without treatment (seeing as small dogs don’t have a whole lot of anything in them to begin with) but Kaylee tends to bounce back easily.
And indeed, on Saturday you wouldn’t have known there had been anything wrong on Friday, except that her poo still stunk to high heaven. Which is why when we woke up to a floor covered in vomit and bloody diarrhea on Sunday morning, we were a bit surprised. Still, she acted pretty normal and things didn’t reoccur until 2:00, when she got so sick we immediately wrapped her in a towel, loaded her into the car, and took her down to the emergency vet.
The emergency vet reiterated what our vet had told us Friday – this wasn’t unusual and it wasn’t a death sentence. In fact, despite the fact that Kaylee did a fine job of decorating their examining room when they were doing vitals, they still said she had a relatively mild case. On the other hand, by this point the poor thing was thoroughly dehydrated, wouldn’t eat or drink, and was clearly just miserable. It took no coaxing whatsoever for us to follow the vet’s suggestion that we leave her there overnight for IV fluids, antibiotics, and general looking-after, since they were much more well-equipped to handle any further emergencies that might come up.
The fact that February managed to not only hospitalize me but also hospitalize my dog did not escape notice and quite frankly I could do without ever having another month like 02/2011 again.
Kaylee came home Monday evening looking and feeling 100% better and, except for a bit of tiredness, you’d once again never know anything was wrong.
Which brings us to the point where I can, if not compare my life to parents of humans, at least sympathize… because this morning Chance started with the diarrhea and this afternoon he was vomiting. The good news is we know exactly what antibiotics to put him on and he’s now on them. The bad news is that my little boy feels like crap, there’s a small but real chance he’ll get just as sick as she did, and my carpet cleaner is going to go on strike for cruel and unusual working conditions.
My little kid is curled up in my lap right now – the only place he wants to be unless he’s in the act of being sick. I had to coax him into taking his antibiotic – neither chicken nor peanut butter were powerful enough to convince him to eat. I can hear his belly squeaking and gurgling in protest, although exactly what it could be protesting at this point I don’t know because there’s not a whole lot left in there to object to.
His sister is out like a light in the beanbag chair. She felt good enough to wake me up from a nap earlier by licking my eyelids (that was a joy), but she still wears down pretty fast.
And I know that there are a number of you out there with sick human kids right now – or worse, sick human kids passing the same virus/infection/whatever back and forth to each other.
And all I can say, feeling as overwhelmed and exhausted as I do right now, is that you parents are amazing. Good job.
Having just gone through a heartbreaking illness with my beagle, I completely understand and actually think dogs are actually a little harder. In our case, we’ve spent a lot of time and money since November trying to figure out what was wrong with Donald – to no avail. We did blood tests, urine samples, urine cultures, more blood tests, and an ultrasound. The problem is dogs (and babies…) can’t tell you what’s wrong. By the time we got a decent diagnosis, it was too late :( We put Donald down last Monday.
So it is harder with dogs – if only because they can’t tell you.
Oh Jamie, I’m so sorry. The fact that the fuzzy kids don’t talk is definitely a disadvantage, if for no other reason than that many of them are so strong of heart they don’t even tell us when they’re in pain. I wish things were different. *hug*