We recently responded to an emergency for a French Bulldog in distress. The poor dog was taking a leisurely stroll on the Venice Beach Boardwalk with his guardian. After awhile the dog became lethargic and refused to go further. He started to vomit and have diarrhea. He was taken to the shade of a local store where we found him panting, drooling in pain with a fever of 104.7! He was stabilized and transported to the emergency hospital where heroic efforts were initiated to save the poor guy, but in spite of valiant efforts he passed away. This dog was a small brachycephalic breed (short-muzzled) and was black in color. These two factors made him prone to heat stroke. His inability to cool down from underperforming airways and the fact he was a dark color absorbing more heat than lighter colors made him more prone to organ damage. Please take care to shield your pets, especially like this one, from the hot summer sun and never leave a pet in a vehicle even with the windows open for air.
You hold Socks the Puppet Cat and pet him as never felt before. He doesn’t care; he can’t react. You determine Socks to be suffering from a neurological disorder where he cannot recognize where his feet can go. He feels his feet and withdraws, but can’t get up and move. Puppet Cat purrs and likes to lie in the sun. He eats heartily as long as the food is in his face. You give him a whole can of A/D and his medications. You determine he has heart disease the ultrasound your performed out of curiosity.
You had found Socks lying in the dirt. He is the stray cat that the neighbors are feeding. The primary feeder, the woman who summoned you is willing to help Socks with a limited budget. Now he is your project. His charm is unbelievable. His will to survive astounding. He stays in the clinic for weeks. Because he is improving…
The Goddess and the Seizing Shih Tzu
The Service connects you to a very distraught woman on the line describing her dog has been foaming at the mouth and is concerned about Rabies and how she’s taking care of her husband thirty years her senior who’s sick and her life is caving in right now and you hear a humble kindness in her voice feeling her pain and assure her the dog has not Rabies but a possible seizure-like episode and you will be right over.
You arrive at the abode and answereth the door a terrycloth-robed goddess ten years past her prime yet quite lovely with long Godiva-like hair and a sad, exhausted look on her face. She has this glow about her you can’t figure out as her Chihuahua mix squeak-barks incessantly while you perch on your toolbox trying to get a history. The TV is blaring organ soundtrack to some old, bizarre Swedish black and white film. The husband, 85, is propped in a wheelchair spouting non sequiturs about the dog and some random facts that the goddess whispers corrections to you as her he speaks like a UN interpreter.
Bonnie (not her real name) the portly Shih Tzu in question wobbles toward you and is described as the love of her life and she babbles what could be wrong with her doctor is she going to die am I going to lose her should we put her down. You attempt to give some hope that the condition may be treatable and not to jump to conclusions when suddenly starts another foaming episode where the dog spins pivoting on her back legs round and around and around foaming drool with a tic and still you calmly reassure the woman that this is a seizure and you are going to stop it with some valium which you quickly whip out of the box and give to the dog. The spinning subsides and the exhausted terrier wanders under the table to lie down.
The goddess pours out her heart to you confiding or confessing trusting you to her past and how she was once a singing star on Hispanic television and how rabid fans begged her to sign their bodies and about her abusive former husband(s) and your eye catches a painting of the goddess on the wall in a shrine flanked by gold statuettes on pedestals, the youthful goddess scantily depicted in a eerie loveliness makes you a tad uncomfortable never mind the cranky man in the wheelchair with a urine catheter draining flanked by two paintings of Marilyn Monroe on the wall beside a painting of the goddess and this current husband in better days. You take blood and urine samples from the sedated pup and recommend a 24-hour hospital to watch her which she declines and will call you if it gets worse and make note of any more episodes.
You return the next day the goddess has a son living in the garage converted he looks 25 is 33 and he feigns concern for the seizing Bonnie as smiling at you. The goddess had told you about the son living at the house using her credit card(s) and how he got in her face and threatened her and you want to deck the guy but remain as professional as you should. This time Bonnie is spinning and foaming and then wanders the room twitching with a 104.5 fever and you explain she must be taken to the emergency 24-hour hospital all the while the husband is yelling out for his goddess to bring him something and you just feel so bad she must play nursemaid to the demented guy as well as dealing with a seizing best friend who might have meningitis or poisoning or just epilepsy. The Chihuahua mix barks shushed by the poor woman who finally agrees. Fending off your own headache you sedate to transport the plump little girl. The son follows you in his step-dads Sedan to the ER … where they find she has very high blood pressure! Is that all…?? No.
The puppet cat lounges in the sun on the clinic patio with Alex. He purrs up a storm and stretches his legs pretending to be normal as a defense mechanism. He still can’t get up. Where you put him, there he’ll be. You test his proprioception and his sensation is slightly better. It’s been a week and you feel he may recover so you continue your project and continue to treat his heart disease and feed, water and clean him and hug him and feel him getting thinner…
You wonder why cases with the same problem come in threes. It has always been that way as far as you recall for over 25 years of practice. Also why do people seem to have the same disease as the animal on a regular basis? What is that about? Do we pick an animal the not only fits our personality and looks, but our medical predispositions? In the same night you get a call that one cat is in heat (but is spayed (?)) and attracted to the man of the house and a call where an intact Rottweiler is incessantly trying to hump the female owner who upon careful history admits she’s in season.The third is yet to come and are concerned where this is leading.
You visit Bonnie in the critical care unit since you have a continuing education session there that evening and she looks disoriented and probably blind and how the criticalist says the pressure is normal now but they found a mass in the chest as well. You speak on the phone with the goddess about the poor outcome and probability of a brain tumor and she is so distraught and you want to help and refer a grief counselor for everything until she snaps out of it and gets strong over the phone like the tough Chicagoan she is and realizes she can get through it and it will be tough but she knew this was coming and is prepared to lose Bonnie. It is then you realize the lucky man in the wheelchair has his Marilyn Monroe to care for and soothe him on to the next phase of his journey.