Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Annie Belle



Tuesday, June 25,  Kira had a bunch of friends over to eat, talk and play games before she headed back to Arizona and Annie was soaking up all the attention from these dog lovers. Wednesday, David drove me to work so Kira could use my car, and when he picked me up, he mentioned that he didn't think the Metacam we were giving Annie for arthritis was working very well because she didn't want to get up and go outside in the morning.
When we got home, I noticed Annie was limping a bit and favoring her right leg, but I just figured she twisted it a little running after a squirrel (this has happened in the past). 
Kira wanted to eat at Pig Ate My Pizza for dinner (where Andy works), so we all hopped into my car, which I hadn't driven much in the last week so Kira could, so as soon as I started backing out of the driveway, I could feel something wasn't right and after a few blocks of jerking and thunking as the car shifted, I knew it had to be the clutch. I've had several transmissions fail on me, but this was a little different and it smelled like a burning clutch (had one of those go out on me also). Well, we decided we had to turn around and see if we could make it back home when a msg popped up on my dashboard that said the transmission was overheating and I needed to wait 10 minutes for it to cool down. We sat and watched the msg count down, then Kira suggested they get out and push it home, as we were just a few blocks away. The msg finally said it was cool enough to try to drive and I was able to crawl home.  I joked that when I was younger, if something happened with my car, one of my animals would get sick too. It never failed, car pukes, trip to the vet. Dog needs ear surgery, alternator dies.
Anyway, we get David's truck and continued on to dinner, which was delicious and a lot of FUN. We're now back home and Kira's friend is over to re-color her hair, so we're sitting in the family room, waiting for the color to set and Annie hobbles over to me, favoring her right leg. I start at her paw and work my way up trying to see if there is a specific sore spot and get no reaction out of her. 
I get to her armpit and feel a little lump that I was sure was a wood tick...I don't do wood ticks...I call out, Daviddaviddavidwoodtick. He feels where I have my fingers, lays her down and plucks off what turns out to be a scab. Then we notice she has a half dollar size spot on her armpit that is missing all it's fur. I get a cloth to clean it with and as I was cleaning, it starts to bleed. My first thought was that a tumor had broken open, because the skin that should have been pink, was a dark red. We gave each other "that look", and decided that we would take her in first thing in the morning. 
Thursday morning comes and Annie is still with us, but favoring her right leg even more, but still able to hobble out to go potty. She didn't want any breakfast, except for water. The vet office opens at 8:00 a.m., and when I called, I told them I needed to bring my dog in because she had an open sore on her armpit, of course the only appointment they had was at 4:00 p.m., so I asked if I could drop her off and they could look at her when they had time. We had to wait around for a tow truck for my car (the one that conveniently puked the evening before), so we weren't able to get her there until after 9:30 a.m. She hobbled her way into the office, onto the scale (she had lost a couple pounds since her visit 3 weeks ago) and then into the exam room. The tech took over from there, letting us know they would call when she was finished. What happened next is the first odd thing in a list of odd things that happened over the next few days. Annie loved people, she always went off with the techs or vet, it was as if I wasn't even in the room, they took hold of her leash and she followed along, wagging her tail all the way...only this time, the tech took Annie's leash and instead of following her, she turned toward us and moved to leave. I told her she needed to go with the tech, and I'd see her later, and we left. The way she turned to leave with us really stuck with me because it was so unusual for her, and I even repeated it to David, who had witnessed it, but I really wasn't too worried...yet.
We then drove to the Ford dealer my car had been towed to, got that all settled and my cell phone rang, it was the vet, asking for permission to take some xrays. There was a lot of bruising in her shoulder area and they thought maybe something had punctured her and was stuck. We said to go ahead.                                                                                                                                                              

This day happened to be Kira's last full day in Minnesota and we didn't feel like doing anything big, but we both wanted to see Ironman so after stopping for a coffee, we drove to AMC Theater in Maple Grove and were thoroughly entertained, so much so that I pretty much forgot that I gave the vet my cell phone number and had turned my phone off during the movie. The guilt just slammed down on me when I saw there was a message from them waiting for me. Thank goodness it said that she was ready to be picked up, and that is exactly what we did.
I never did talk to the vet, only the tech and she told me they thought it was probably a spider bite and gave me some pain meds and antibiotics and said to make another appointment for a week to check on her. She didn't look any better and was really favoring her foot now, so Kira picked her up and carried her to the truck.
Besides her full time zookeeper job at the Phoenix Zoo, Kira also works at PetCo and she suggested we stop at the one just down the block from the vet and she would use her discount to get some wet food for Annie to take her pills with. I really just wanted to get her home, but it made sense to stop now. Annie was very uncomfortable, trying to position herself better in the back seat of the truck, but Kira was in and out in no time and we were soon home. Kira carried her out of the truck, let her potty and carried her into the house, this is now about 5:15 p.m.
Kira got her food ready, David gave her an antibiotic pill and laid her on a comforter in the family room while I started to make us some salad for dinner. At this time, I was blindly under the impression that she just needed the antibiotics and pain meds, not that she was in danger of dying, so I was chopping lettuce and talking to Kira, when we heard a cry from the family room...(the second odd thing to happen) we looked at each other and I said, "Annie doesn't cry, she rarely ever whines". It was an eerie sound.
Kira brought her food and water to her, but she wouldn't eat or drink, so I got some ice cubes and fed them to her, she was really thirsty and greedily chewed them up.
I didn't want to bug her and make her move too much, so I sat on the floor with her while I ate my salad. I noticed a streak of blood running down her leg, which should not have been happening, so I got the cleaning solution the vet gave me, and when I lifted her leg to clean the blood and sore, I noticed it was now the size of my palm and the spot that was bleeding was a new spot. I realized then that I was trying hard to ignore my initial gut feeling...this tissue was dying. The fur was gone on the sore and the skin was mottled black, blue, and dark red where it should have been pink.
I asked David to move her to where I was sitting, because she was trying to get to me, (why I didn't move to her is beyond me, it just never occurred to me) so he laid her down next to me, on her sore side ( this didn't occur to him either). She was so uncomfortable, she tried to find a position that was better and ended up lifting her weight off her leg. Her leg started bleeding again, and she was half on me, so David got the solution. He was gently wiping down her leg, when he noticed her fur was coming off with the cotton ball. He ended up wiping off a section six inches long and nearly two inches wide. He then moved her to my other side to get her weight off her sore leg. I was petting her and talking to her and trying to calm her panting. She was being so good, then she let out another cry. OMG, what a sound that was. A combination of a dog whine and a child cry...I don't ever want to hear that sound again. I said "we have to take her to the emergency vet, this is not a spider bite, her fur is calling off, her skin is black, it's rotting:. This was about 7:30 p.m. and of course the vet is closed, so our only choice is the emergency vet, and anyone who has ever had to take their fur baby  knows the first thing that goes through your mind is $$ signs. I feel bad thinking that way, but it's the truth and I'm not leaving it out. We had two choices, the Coon Rapids emergency vet or the University of Minnesota emergency vet...we chose U/MN, because if they didn't know what was wrong with her, nobody would. David called and told them what was going on and they asked how soon we could get there.
The time must now be about 8:30 p.m. or so, I ease out from under Annie's head to get ready to go. 
I stick the medication she was put on in a ziplock bag, grab my purse and her leash. I pick up my cell phone and notice the battery is on yellow, I ask David if he has a phone charger in his truck and the answer was "No"...my charger is in my car that is in the shop, I consider grabbing the wall charger but David had already taken Annie to the truck, so I end up leaving my phone (with it's camera) at home and run to the truck. The drive to the U/MN in St. Paul (about 18 miles) was a very quiet drive. I was in the back with her and she didn't move at all except for her panting.
We drive up, park and as David is carrying her in, the doors magically open, the techs were waiting for us. They asked if she could walk and when we said no, they went for a cart, but decided to just let us just take her into the exam room. I gave the ziplock bag of meds I brought along to one of the techs while David laid Annie on the table. I joined them just as the vet was lifting up Annie's leg to get a look at the sore and I heard her say something like "oh, that's what I thought". On some level, that's pretty much all I needed to hear, but outwardly, I still had hope, I mean, she was just running around at Kira's party. 
Annie was in their capable hands now, so we left the exam room to register and wait. Now is the third odd thing that happened, David was already out of the room and when I got to the door, I turned back to take another look, Annie had mustered up the energy to turn her head back and look at me, she looked right at me, right.at.me...and it just about killed me.
While we were still registering, the vet came out and said she wanted to start fluids and draw blood and that we were looking at an additional $500, was that OK? I said "Yes, do it" to which David mumbled something about money. I waited until we were alone to jump all over that comment, even though I understood where he was coming from. We waited for probably 1/2 an hour before the vet came out and asked us to join her in a private room...oh-oh. She was so kind, she asked us to tell her what all had happened, then she told us what she knew. Annie had a raging infection, a temp of 107°  (should be 99°) and necromizing fasciitis. I started crying and she asked if either of us had any medical knowledge and I could only nod my head yes. She explained that it is the same bacteria that causes strep throat and because of a scratch or bug bite, this bacteria got into her and took over, killing the healthy flesh. She explained that they could go in and try to remove the dead tissue, but it was an extensive surgery that most likely would involve more than one surgery and the amputation of her leg...oh, and it would cost between $7000 - $10,000. I just shook my head and said no, we were not going to do that. Possibly if she was younger and it was on her foot and not in her armpit, I might have considered it, but how much can be cut out and off and still allow one to live. Annie was in great pain and we needed to make a decision. I've been in this sucky position more than once, and the vets always have a look on their faces that project their feelings. The decision was an easy, difficult one. I most certainly did Not want to kill my dog, but I knew that to try and keep her alive, just for my sake, would have been horribly mean, so we decided to help her over the rainbow bridge. The vet's face relaxed with relief. We then had to decide on private cremation, another $200, group cremation which is free, but yuk, I didn't want that, and a necropsy, which would be free and might  help them figure out why this happened to her. We figured that this was such a strange and rare thing to happen, that necropsy was the only way to go, if this had to happened to my furbaby, then we wanted it to possibly help another furbaby. She told us she thought we had made the best decision, then showed us to a quiet room while they got her ready. She kept say "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry" which did little at the time, but I'm greatful for now.
They brought Annie in on a wagon, she was pretty much out of it because of additional pain meds, but we were able to talk to her, apologize to her, pet her, kiss her, take some pictures, cry and realize that we were being selfish in keeping her with us any longer. She was hurting, even drugged up like she was, the pain still came through. This was all so surreal, we were having a hard time grasping what was going on, it was all happening too fast.
We then decided we were ready, so I pushed the button and the vet came in. She had already explained what she was going to do, and this wasn't our first time, so we just held her and whispered love to her and...it was all over.


I'm so thankful for these vets that help our furbabies over the rainbow bridge, but it must tear at their heart each time they draw that pink fluid up into the syringe, and in Annie's case, the only other choice we had was to let her suffer, this was not something she would have recovered from, not even for $10,000.00.
We stayed in the quiet room while they took her out and made a clay impression of her paw for us. She wasn't coming home with us so this was going to be the only thing we had. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait very long before they brought us her paw print. We got to the check out desk and I just left  David to pay the bill, while I walked out to the truck to cry in private. I honestly don't remember what we said on the ride home, we were in shock, but I do remember we were almost home when I realized we had left the ziplock bag of medication there. We wanted it so we could maybe return it, we had only used one dose, but we weren't going to go back that night, tomorrow would be fine, and called them to let them know we would be back the next day. 
Kira had stayed home to wash clothes and pack for her flight back to Arizona and she was waiting by the door when we walked in. Her eyes went from my face to down where Annie should have been, then back to my face. "What?????" was all she got out before we both started sobbing.
The rest of the night was spent in disbelief, letting my boys know, googling  necrotizing fasciitis crying and finally sleep.


Our plan for the next day was to go to the MN zoo then I would drop her off at the Humphrey terminal plus I had to pick up the medication. Kira thought I would have a better chance of finding the U/MN vet clinic if we went there first, instead of me trying to find it going backwards.
(now happens odd thing #4) We get there with no problem and the first parking spot I see wasn't easy to get into because the car backing up was in my way, so I drove to the end of the lot and as I was pulling into the spot, I looked to my left and at the other end of the lot was a woman with two collies! I don't know how common collies are in other states, but they are not common in MN. I turned off the car, jumped out and found they walk fast, they were now directly behind me, so I went right up to the woman and said "Can I pet your collies?" She said "Of course." Being an introvert, this is not something I normally do, I tend to avoid people.
The woman was very nice and the dogs were beautiful. One had the black saddle and the other looked just like Annie. Kira joined us and we chatted about collies, I told her about Annie, she told us the one that looked like Annie was her foster dog and she told me she's with MWCR Minnesota Wisconsin Collie Rescue, (this was the Rescue site I was looking at before I found Annie). She said there was always a need for foster parents, and we talked a bit about me possibly fostering...hmmm. The dark saddle dog had an appt for acupuncture so we parted ways, she walked towards the clinic, we walked towards the car, the Annie look-a-like followed us.
I can not tell you how much better I felt after this. Kira and I both think it was Annie's doing, she wanted me to know she was OK, and to help me not hurt so bad.
We happily went on to see the zoo and I dropped her off at the airport and I finally made it home, through the beginning of rush hour traffic and road construction, only taking me three times longer than it should have. 
Odd thing #5 happened Sunday night. I stayed up late and as I was settling down in bed, I was facing the center and I was saying a prayer for Annie, telling her again that I'm sorry and that I loved her and that I hoped she was OK, when she appeared in the room, behind me, next to the bed, I could hear her panting and knew she was smiling. Believe this or not, but she let me know that she was OK, she was in a good place, and she was happy. This just melted my heart, I was smiling ear to ear.
I know she's moved on now, because I don't feel her anymore. I can think real hard and imagine her, but it isn't the same as that night.
Life is moving on and I can talk about her without blubbering and I hope she will pop back for a bit when we're ready to find another furbaby.

 
  

R.I.P. 

12/12/2003 - 06/27/2013

Annie Belle

7 comments:

Kira Leigh said...

Crying again.

Andrea said...

This was hard to read.
I'm so sorry for your loss of Annie. It's terribly hard to lose a furry family member.
Love that photo of her in the banana costume.
xo.

Hanne said...

sitting here crying - and crying...and thinking of the day - hopefully many years ahead - I have to say goodbye to my doggy! Don't even want to think about it! So sorry for you - you must miss her a lot! love the photo of her in the banana costume, too - it made me laugh and cry at the same time!
xxoo

Liza said...

Janet, I am so so very sorry. I hope you are doing better since that day.

Tracey said...

Oh my, this was heart breaking Janet. I am sooooo sad for you and for Annie. She is precious. Hugs for you!
t

Jean said...

I'm so sorry to hear Janet. It was so hard to read and not cry.

Hilary said...

Oh Janet, I am so sorry for your heartbreaking loss. I'm sitting here sobbing for this beautiful creature and the people who loved her so dearly. Hugs to you.