Published Jan. 19, 2012 @ 7:16 p.m.
It’s strange how certain emergencies stick to my memory more than others. In fact, I had one of these memorable ones just last week. It was late Wednesday night. I received a phone call about a very small 7 week old puppy whose owners said was very sick. I met the client up at the clinic and what I saw broke my heart. This puppy was lifeless. I’m talking so lifeless it was like a ragdoll flopping around when you held it. I thought to myself “this puppy needs serious help or it will NOT make it”. I always believe, especially with cases like this one, regardless of what or how much I do, I need additional help from up above. That’s right, I’m not afraid to admit it. God’s in control of my life and that includes my career. Needless to say my prayers started the moment I saw the puppy named Scarlett.
After getting the puppy’s history from the client, it made me wonder even more if we were going to be able to save this little girl. On physical exam Scarlett was so weak she did not have the strength to hold her head up, much less to get up and move around. She was also very dehydrated. After running a few tests which unfortunately came back negative, it put me back to treating the clinical signs and the unknown something causing these signs. Our only option was to begin aggressive therapy. Dealing with such a sick puppy that weighed no more than 1 pound, the prognosis was not good. I informed the client all I could do was the best that I could, but we were going to need help from above if Scarlett was going to make it.
Aggressive treatment for Scarlett meant around the clock treatment, and she would need treatment every 2 hours. While we offer 24-hour emergency care, we aren’t staffed for 24-hour round the clock observation at the clinic. What choice did I have? Yup, I decided to take her home with me. I loaded all of the medicine & materials I thought I might need (which seemed to be 1/4 of the clinic). As I walked into the door of my house with this puppy my wife glanced warily and said "I hope you’re going to be the one getting up with her." (I guess her mind was reflecting back to the good old baby days. Or grumpy baby days. Who knows. They were a blur back then.) “Of course” I replied.
Scarlett made it through the night and seemed to be doing a little better that morning. She was barking and acting like a puppy should. However, as the day progressed she seemed to slowly get worse. I was continuing with the same treatment, but things were not improving. As the day came to an end, I took Scarlett back home for another night of around the clock care. By now, my wife and kids were already getting attached. (Hence, why we have too many pets and aren’t great candidates to be a foster family!) Miraculously, Scarlett made it through the second night. It’s now Friday morning and she is doing a little better again. However, she still had not eaten a single meal by herself. I was having to force feed this puppy every 2 hours just to try to get some strength into her. By Friday afternoon I had done everything I medically could for Scarlett. It was up to Scarlett and God at this point. I made the decision to send her home for the weekend and I thought that the owners could take over from here. My directions were clear “Scarlett needs TLC and prayer.”
I called and checked on Scarlett throughout the weekend and by Saturday evening she finally ate her first meal by herself. She also was beginning to play a little. By Sunday she was acting like a normal puppy and the owner couldn’t be happier. Scarlett’s case shows us with some hard work and help from above anything is possible…even with a poor prognosis. I wish I could say all my sick cases have this outcome, but I can't. All I can promise is to do the best I can, pray, and know God can still perform miracles.