Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Night-time Visit to the Vet (a failed attempt)

Bone shard that was stuck in my dog's top jaw
That isn't a picture of Hayate, it's a calendar I had on my desk. The bone is the star of the show

Kristin Lund blogs at about ex-pat life in Sweden with her dog, Rabbit. Incidentally, I had to double check her name but not her dog’s… sorry Kristin! There’s a lot to be jealous of in terms of doggie-life convenience. I was particularly impressed by the dog ambulance service she wrote about a few months ago. Until we moved and bought our car a few months ago we always walked to the vet. If we’d had something happen that meant the dogs couldn’t walk we could used the Doggyride I suppose, although when Hayate was refusing to walk after he got the snip we carried him in our arms. He was very heavy. He also released two days of pee down my husband’s chest. If something happened now we have the option to drive, but only if the Mr is home (I don’t have a car license). It’s a little scary, and a service like this dog ambulance would be very reassuring to know about.
The other night we did have to make an emergency vet run, and it was not a pleasant experience. Hayate suddenly because screaming, fell on his side and scratched frantically at his face while gagging. I thought he was choking on something, but when I looked into his mouth I realised he had somehow wedged a shard of bone cross-ways across the roof of his mouth, between the molars. I attempted to put my hand into his mouth but he was completely freaked out and bit me. I tried a couple of times with similar results and then tried to think of a new course of action. In the meantime his attempts to get the bone out by gagging led to him vomiting all over the lounge room. All of this naturally caused Kuri to become extremely distressed as well. She went from running around whining at random furniture to (extremely helpfully) trying to attack Hayate. We knew we needed to take him to the vet so he could be tranquilised (no one was going to get near his mouth safely otherwise), but we weren’t sure how. He was too frantic to get a collar on or pick up. We ended up being able to herd him into his crate then put him in the car in that, and arrangement he would object to at the best of times, let alone while hysterical and vomiting. We both had to go (the Mr to drive and me to speak to the vet/hold the crate together against his attempts to smash his way out). That meant leaving poor little Kuri home alone, since I couldn’t deal with her in the car as well. Hayate screamed and tried to dig/bite/smash his way out of the crate the entire 30~40 minute drive to our regular vet. The whole time we were just so happy that our vet is open until midnight. Until we got there and he was shut. Apparently the opening hours were shortened since the last time we had been there. A frantic google on my phone gave us one other vet in the vicinity who was still open… the evil vet from hell we had sworn never to go to again. We sucked it up and drove over there only to discover that although the clinic was open, there were no veterinary staff there: they were at a conference. What followed was a slightly surreal conversation with the receptionist.
“Are there any other clinics open?”
“No, we are the only late night clinic.”
“But you aren’t open.”
“We are; we just aren’t accepting patients.”
“So where can I take my dog?”
“You can try calling one of the clinics that is closed and see if anyone picks up… maybe someone is working late.”
Ten phone calls later we got through to one… who told us they were closed and hang up.
“So my dog could be dying and there is absolutely no one who cares? Are you serious? People in this city just sit and watch their pets die if it’s past 9 pm?”
“I don’t think that happens.”
“Then what do you DO?”
“Pets don’t usually have accidents at night I guess.”
At this point I was close to punching the poor girl in the face, which was very unfair because it wasn’t at all her fault and she just happened to be the only available object to vent against. We turned around a drove home, Hayate still screaming and thrashing in his crate. By the time we got home and let him out the inside of the crate was covered in damp clots of fur. We got inside to find that in addition to the vomit Kuri had expressed her agitation by peeing on every absorbent floor covering she could find. We were at a complete loss and resigned ourselves to a sleepless night and another trip to the vet as soon as they opened in the morning. Fortunately, at around 4 am Hayate worked the bone out by himself.
The whole experience left me terrified. Hayate’s situation wasn’t particularly dangerous, just upsetting. What if he had been choking? Or escaped from the house (as he has done before) and, a black dog on a dark suburban street, been hit by a car? Or eaten ant poison? He’d have died in the car as I ruined an innocent receptionist’s night by yelling at her. The next two days I asked every teacher I knew with dogs what they would have done. Most confidently gave me the names of late-night clinics (open until 8 or 9), but when I asked what they would do after those hours they were stumped. None had ever thought about it. The trouble is, when you need an emergency clinic you don’t have time to try and find one. I eventually got the number of a large clinic that has overnight staff. They aren’t open all night exactly, but staff are always there and you can phone to ask them to open for you. It’s in another city, close to an hour’s drive away, but it is better than nothing.
I’m thinking about moving to Sweden.

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