Donna and Joe have finished their assignment in India. Occasionally they still travel somewhere.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Pet Owner's Trip to Hell and Back


Valentine's Day started so nice. I wanted to do something that Joe would like, which generally involves chocolate. I had found a fudgy chocolate cake mix. Since home baked favorites are such an adventure, and I'm not as good a cook as Joe, I decided this might be a safer alternative. I thought it would be nice to have a candle light dinner on our rooftop terrace. I worked much of the day on the terrace, planting things that needed planting, cleaning the mess the marble workers had left, and rearranging. I reheated the dinner Jaya had cooked, and we had dinner and desert by candle light on our terrace. Things went down hill from there.

Luna had thrown up a couple of times in the early evening before Joe got home. Being a poodle who hadn't eaten much that day, I didn't think too much of it. She has a history of not eating her food if she thinks something better might be coming. She had gotten lots of treats the day before, so I thought she was just holding out. If she waits too long, her stomach fills with acid and she throws up. Sometimes I have to roll pieces of food towards her on the floor to trigger the chase instinct. When she has a few pieces in her stomach, she often decides that it feels good, and she will eat more on her own. (I've tried telling her that there are poor dogs in Pakistan that would love to have her food, but that doesn't help.)

We went to bed shortly after dinner, since in India we often don't eat until 9 p.m. And it was Valentine's day, after all.

At 1 a.m. I woke up to discover that Luna was having seizures. When I got up I realized she had also thrown up and urinated in 3 places around the apartment. (O.K., I'm going to tell you here that this has a happy ending.) We called my friend, Dhana, who had just that DAY had said to call if we ever had an emergency, and had to get to a vet in the middle of the night.

Dhana's husband drove us all to CUPA emergency vet clinic, as our driver has to come by bus (almost an hour) and they don't have buses or rickshaws there that run at that time of night. At one point on the drive over I couldn't tell if she was breathing, and thought she may have died in my arms! She wasn't responding to us or even to painful stimuli. At clinics here you go right in and help with the treatment. The vet there finally decided it must be some kind of poison, rather than epilepsy, because her body temperature was dropping. She was going into shock, so we filled disposable gloves with hot water to act as hot water bottles, and covered her with blankets. They started an I.V. and gave her a shot of general antidote, and I think a sedative.

After several hours her temperature was back in the normal range, so they sent her home, with instructions that we MUST keep her warm. On the way home she was wild in the car, and we finally pulled her over, thinking she needed to urinate again. She did, and then collapsed into the puddle. We got home around 4 in the morning.

At home she refused to lay on our bed, (the only time she has ever been allowed on) or on her own bed. She wandered around with her blanket still on her back. The first thing she did was to walk into our bedroom and just stand with her head in the open closet door. The next day I realized that she was whoozy, but was trying to go to a door to ask to go out! Stupid me. She almost never ASKS to go out--I was afraid she was trying to find a quiet corner to DIE in!

She finally gave up, and just urinated on the floor, collapsing again afterwards. She still refused to stay in one place very long. I took her temperature and it was better, so I let her move around, and just covered her well every time she stopped and laid down.

I stayed up all the rest of the night with her and the next morning she was getting worse. She was less responsive again and her temperature was dropping again. Dr. Pavan, the vet that had saved Dhana's dog from poisoning finally arrived, started an I.V., and gave her another shot of antidote. Then we left Dhana, Jaya, and Joseph watching over Luna and went to do some detective work.

We thought maybe she had eaten some berries from the plants by the edge of the lawn where she had been nosing around. We saw plates of rat poison bait next to the wall of the building, but she hadn't been anywhere near there. We checked with the gardener who said the plants were dracena and weren't poisonous. So he figured she must have somehow either picked up a lizard or some of the rat poison. We went to see the manager, who called the exterminator to see what type of rat poison had been used.

When we got back to the apartment , Dr. Pavan decided she was getting worse and needed to go in to his clinic. She was so dehydrated that it was hard to bend and move her legs. Dhana was going to check with the head gardener when he came, because the plants didn't look like any dracena I had ever seen. She called me later to say that the first gardener was correct, but that this gardener told her that someone had hidden 10-12 buns with rat poison in them among some plants next to the lawn. I had thought Luna was smelling for a squirrel and thought it was a cheap thrill, so I had let her. No more than her nose disappeared under the plant, so they were RIGHT next to the grass.

After many I.V.'s, having her stomach flushed out, antidotes, and antibiotics in more I.V.'s, Luna was well enough to go home on Sunday. The poison had caused bleeding in her stomach, and liver damage. She is thinner than most of the street dogs, but she is alive and expected to recover fully.

Luna has so many friends here, from the grounds staff and security to the residents, that she had people praying for her to whatever God they believe in, and asking about her. Our language teacher, who is Hindu went to light candles and pray for her at the Infant Jesus church, where he swears your prayers will be answered.

Fortunately, I had brought a "Halti" dog halter to India with me, thinking I might want it to help someone train their dog. The vet told me about a muzzle-type thing he now carries that stays loose all the time, except when you need to keep your dog from grabbing something. He was out of them, but when I showed him the Halti, he said "That's it!" So now Luna wears it whenever she goes out, and I do my best never to allow her mouth or nose to touch the ground. Dr. Pavan said it was the only real way to keep her safe. She wore one as a puppy, when I was training her, but she keeps butting her head against me and anyone she meets up with, as if to say, "Will YOU take this off?" Most people know she's a love, and isn't wearing it because she bites, but I think I'll decorate it with some pretty ribbon or something. She'll get used to it again. I tell her, "If I can get used to wearing toe rings, you can get used to this. You're in India."

I feel horrible that I couldn't protect Luna from this--What you don't know sure CAN hurt someone, but I'm wiser and more careful now. And I'm working to be sure they NEVER do that again!

Now it has been about a week, and she is starting to get her bounce back. She has decided that the broth and boiled chicken, etc. that I was giving her is better than her dry food and the dry hepatic diet the vet gave me, so she is holding out for that! The past few days I have ended up grinding up the dry food in a blender and mixing it with ground boiled chicken. I need to get some weight back on her. There will be time to get tough later.

Recently I ran into a person from a different apartment complex who said that her maid had told her all about Luna's mishap! Now I need to go back to the Infant Jesus church and put 101 rupees into their donation box, and distribute buns to all the poor people at the gate. It is tradition, but somehow giving out buns seems like a bizarre ending in our situation.


1 comment:

Martin said...

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