Monday, November 30, 2009

The Chica Crisis

Oh my gosh! Within hours of sending Tom on his way, with assurances that everything would be fine here, it wasn't. I thought I would go up to the kennel and feed while it was still daylight, get things well in hand right off the bat. There was the usual ruckus when I entered. I can't say that I noticed anything unusual about Chica other than that she was jumping up. In hindsight, I wonder if she was already clinging to the fence at that moment. I started on the far end, with Ali. The empty kennels of the two pointers made things go a little faster and I was almost to Chica's end when I heard an unusual noise. It caught my attention, but it wasn't a shriek of panic or hurt and I called out "just a minute, Chica, I'm almost there."

A couple dogs later and I stood in front of her kennel. Chica seemed to be attached--- stuck --- to the kennel fence. I dropped the food where I stood and ran to her. At first, I thought somehow the toes were twisted and caught and tried to pull her off. She was stuck fast. I examined it more closely and my heart went to my throat to discover she was actually impaled on the wire. Imagine the four squares of a section of chain link. The top cross bar had broken the weld, most likely from her incessant bouncing off the sides of the kennel. When she jumped against it in her excitement, that top piece bowed outward under the pressure and the foot slipped through the opening. When she withdrew, the wire went through her foot. She struggled long enough to run the wire through and tear the flesh, but not enough to completely damage her foot by tearing it loose. It is a credit that she has her momma's temperament, as she seemed to understand I was there to help her and she did not bite or struggle against me. Where I found the strength to lift her with my injured left arm, I do not know. Adrenalin, I'm sure. For a moment, once I got her up there, I didn't know how I would get her off. I thought I might have to call someone to help me, and worried how long she could stay like that. I knew I couldn't leave her. I carefully pushed back the piece of wire from the broken weld and slid the foot sideways until it was free. Frankly, I thought I would vomit.

Once freed, what did she do? Ran immediately to her spilled dinner and began to eat as if nothing had happened. I let her outside where I could see better and she ran on the foot with no demonstration of pain. However, when I examined it, the injury looked bad. I was unable to restrain her and look adequately, so I called my friend, Sue, who drove over and agreed that a vet visit was in order. Chica seemed oblivious.

I drove her to the Animal Referral Center, which I think any animal owner in the Fox Valley, hates to hear mention of in an emergency setting. First of all, you know that you will first need to assure them you can pay for treatment and secure it by check or credit card. We were first seen by a triage nurse who looked at the foot and agreed that it needed treatment (duh! isn't that why we were there??) but since Chica didn't seem to be in pain and wasn't bleeding all over their floor (this was odd... I even looked in the kennel today and found no blood at the scene. The wound never bled) so we apparently weren't a high priority. I was in pain with my shoulder, which was just beginning to realize it had been asked to do things it wasn't prepared for, and I had not taken any medication. My plan had been to feed dogs, then take some medication, do a physical therapy session and put my feet up. So much for plans! I asked if we could wait in a room so I didn't have to keep hold of Chica, and we were escorted to a room where ultimately Chica curled up on the floor and I on the small bench seat, and we both fell asleep. When I woke it was an hour later, I was cramped and sore and we still had not seen anyone. Finally, the PRE-treatment assistant came in and took a history. More waiting. I was beginning to wonder if the wound would just heal itself as we waited. I walked to the front desk and advised them I was going to sleep in my vehicle and to call me when they were ready to see my dog. Another hour passed. FINALLY, they were ready. I asked how long the treatment would take and the vet told me 2-3 hours. I opted to drive home where I could rest until they called me to pick her up, but the layers of treatment and length of time at that place, especially considering what they demand of the animal owner, is ridiculous. When the vet called, I told her that I would pick up medication at the vet in the morning, to save money. When I paid the almost $500 bill, I found they had charged me for meds. By that time, I was just too tired to argue or care. In my opinion, they are a necessary but unpleasant evil. I had arrived at approximately 4 pm and at 10:06 I was on my way back home with my repaired poochie.

They said they sutured three layers. Her foot is bandaged and she has to wear a plastic hood, which she hates. Almost as much as she hates having to be in a crate. I have to put a plastic bag over the bandage when she goes out to keep it from getting wet. Tomorrow the bandages come off and I hope there is no sign of infection. I do notice that she is limping a little today, but that could be because she finally notices it is hurt! I hope she does not tear the foot up, trying to escape the crate. To have to go through all this again-- and the expense-- would just be awful. And I have had quite enough drama for the week, thank you very much!

I have observed how dear Chica is. She has the temperament of her mother, Roya. And probably the high pain threshold ,as well! Despite her injury, she never snapped at me and has been such a love. I take the hood off for her potty walks and then let her roam around the house for a little bit and she is very good in the house, stopping back to me for cuddles and hugs. I guess I wasn't lying when I told Tom I could handle things here well enough. I did. But I had help.