I had intended this post to be two parts. One being about our dog Jules and the next being a race recap from this weekends Half Marathon. As I started writing it became clear to me that this post should solely be about Jules. As I am thankful for my two legs and the miles they carry me, I am just as thankful for our four legged family members and the joy they bring to our house. The race recap will come later. Here it is, a post just on Jules and how this weekend made us love her even more...if that is even possible.
If you follow my blogs you know that I am an animal lover. If you don't know that then let me introduce myself: Hi, I am Crystal. I am a SAHM who works part time as a Veterinary Technician. I have been a Vet Tech for almost 16 years. In our house we currently have two dogs: Jules and Miss Vixen and a sweet black cat that my four year old Chase proudly named Horsey. Our animals are more than just furry creatures who shed all over my house. They are part of our family. Jules, our ten year old Pit Bull also has taken on the role of Chase's BFF. Since the day I brought Chase home Jules claimed him as her own. They have the sweetest bond; magical and magnetic.
Last Monday Jules presented with being sick. As the week progressed she was quickly declining. It started with vomiting and anorexia and she became very weak. I believed the culprit to be the small piece of corn cob that she vomited up on Tuesday afternoon. My husband cuts off a small piece of his corn to give to our two year old Wesley, who in turn thought it was nice to throw it on the ground. Jules, who lives to eat everything was quick to clean it up off the ground. It took five days for that piece of cob to come out. I had hoped she was going to get better after it was gone but she only got worse. We did xrays and blood work. Those all came back normal, no obstruction, no masses, no abnormalities. I was feeling relieved and hoped she just needed another night.
The next morning she was worse. Now I was getting worried. Thursday turned into Friday and I was watching my dog deteriorate in front of my eyes, in front of my children's eyes. I love that dog, yet I also love my children more. I was having a difficult time keeping it together. What went from trying to hide my tears from the boys ended up in me surrendering myself to the honesty that I may not be able to make her better. Chase asked me several times if I could "fix" her. I was not going to lie to my child. I owed it to him to be honest about this friend of his he loved so much. I began preparing him by gently explaining that I might not be able to. He didn't fully grasp what I was saying but I could tell by his nervous smile and the quiver of his lower lip that he knew enough. He would respond with: "But why? I love Jules". Insert knife in mama's heart!
When the children would play in their room I would lie with Jules in her dog bed and plead with her not to do this to the boy who loves her. I apologized for getting angry for the countless toys she destroyed and food she had stolen off of our counters. I just wanted her to get better; for her, for me, and especially for that boy who loved her so.
She had not eaten in four days. I started administering SQ (Subcutaneous) fluids at home. Her back legs were weak, she no longer was able to get up on the couch. She would get up to go the bathroom then go straight back to the safety of her bed. Long story short, I needed to make some decisions of what would be the next step. My husband and I decided that we would not put her down without an answer. I did not feel it was her time, I was not willing to let her go unless I was told there was nothing we could do. I did not want to live with regrets and wonder why she was sick. I owed it to her to find out a reason.
I took Jules to PEAK Veterinary Referral Center for ultrasound. Her intestines were dilated and it was diagnosed she had Enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine). This was the best news we could get. No cancer, no masses, no obstruction! It meant she would need IV fluids and medication to be administered IM (intramuscular) and she might be able to pull out of it. The radiologist was positive about the prognosis and felt that even though she was as sick as she was, we could nurse her back. I was finally feeling like I could breathe yet knew we were not out of the woods just yet. Because I am a veterinary technician I chose to take her home to treat her myself rather than admit her.
Jules has always been terrified of any medical procedure. For a dog who use to come to work with me you would think she would not have that fear...or maybe she saw too much. Whatever the reason, I always have to anesthetize Jules for any procedure, even simple vaccines. How the hell was I going to place an IV catheter in her?! She had been sick enough to let me take her temp and administer SQ Fluids. This was in my favor and thankfully I was able to place an IV catheter by myself so I could push fluids. It was time to enter my role as a technician and push aside that she was my own pet. Some techs and doctors prefer not to work on their own pets, I prefer to be the one to treat my own animals.
Saturday Jules was not looking well. The vomiting and lethargy continued all morning. I tried to keep the positive vibes flowing and give her as much TLC as I could. Suddenly, like a light switch, she took a turn. After five days of no food she took a treat. Then my husband came home and she got up to greet him. A couple hours later I offered a small meal she ate eagerly. Then we met "hope"...it was not her time! She was going to pull through this! Sunday I came home from visiting family to find that she already removed her catheter. My dog was back!
I have lost pets before. It is never easy, it never feels right. I also do not feel it is right to let a pet suffer. It is our jobs to be sure they have a quality of life. It was not her time! Jules is back to herself, she is the renegade counter surfer, toy destroyer, and offender of sneaking on my bed and messing up the covers. She took my kids dino chicken nuggets off the counter the Sunday night and gladly ate Wesley's pop tart Monday morning when he turned his back. I would say that is my dog. I am grateful for those four legs of hers, her sweet disposition and her gentle way with my children. I am thankful that my son still has his best friend.
This week is National Veterinary Technician Week. I dedicate this post to all my fellow techs: for all your hard work, long hours, compassion and dedication. For those of you who trained me and made me the technician I am today (you know who you are and I love you girls!) THANK YOU!! Our job is important. We are nurses to animals which can be challenging some days. Our patients do not talk, they don't sit still, and sometimes they growl or bite. We get pissed and shit on (it's not all puppies and kittens) and our patients never say "Thank You". None the less, this job is rewarding. Jules is a wonderful example of that. We may not be able to fix every patient, but when we do, that is priceless!