Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Is a dog just a dog?
Many of you may know via Twitter or Facebook, that my dog is very ill. He's suffering from a horrible affliction called fly strike. Never heard of it before and never want to see it again. There's a lot of it happening right now in long haired dogs b/c flies are laying eggs.
Adult flies are attracted to things that stink, including dogs. Caleb had a short bout of the squirts. Despite me washing his bottom when I noticed the need, a fly had already laid eggs in the mess. Fly eggs hatch within 8-12 hours. Fly larvae are maggots. Maggots are born hungry and look for stuff to feed on. They start with the ick, then bore into the skin. All within 8-12 hours.
If a dog has long hair, the problem may not be noticed right away. The first thing we noticed was the stench. Didn't know what it was. Next day the dog was lethargic and barely moving.
As the hours ticked by, the stench worsened and he started oozing from who knows where (Sheltie, long hair).
Caleb had to go to the ER Sunday night. He was shaved from neck to tip of tail. The maggots started traveling up his back bone under the skin.
Yesterday he wasn't doing as well as the ER vet hoped. As I type he's in the hospital until he's stable. Hopefully we can bring him home today.
Vet care is expensive. We are in a rough spot. Food banks, past-due bills, day to day decisions on what's important and what we can live without. Most of America is feeling similar pain in the bank.
I've received some comments from people; "He's just a dog! You can't afford this. Just let him die."
I'm combining comments above. No one person said all that in one sentence.
The moment we knew Caleb had to go to the ER, John and I were physically sick. The ER fee alone is $100. We debated waiting until morning. We consulted with vet techs. But Caleb kept getting worse. Both of us felt it would have been awful to let Caleb simply die b/c we didn't have the money to pay for his care. Neither one of us could live with that.
We took him in. Good thing. He probably would have died before morning.
But he wasn't doing too well yesterday. I was preparing myself for the "he's suffering too much, probably won't make it" talk. Tearfully praying my way through the day for the strength to let go if I he wasn't going to make it.
Caleb is a strong little dog. The vet has seen worse. Caleb's being screened for underlying diseases (less cost now than later if more complications arise). The vet and vet tech did not recommend putting him down. He has too much life and a great quality of life. His recovery will be hard and ugly, but they believe he may pull through if his blood tests come back good.
The maggots have done a lot of damage. Caleb may require surgery (worst case scenario) to debride all the dead tissue on his back. About a whopping 9 square inches! Dollar signs are floating in front of my face.
"Just let him die."
How far does one go?
My gut feeling is this: Caleb is a part of my family. God gave us stewardship over animals back when Adam and Eve were in Eden. God knows when one sparrow falls from the sky. He cares about his creation.
Caleb is our responsibility. His doggy life is not worthless. No life is. Yes, human life is above animal, but no humans are gonna die from this.
Both John and I are feeling like we need to take care of the life entrusted to us over 9 years ago. We are trying hard to trust God will provide to cover Caleb's care and treatment.
Okay, so we go back to the food back this weekend. I need to find more and new Avon customers and get through the revision of my novel and pray it sells. We don't spend money on anything that's not a dire need. We pray the IRS will continue to have patience regarding back taxes. We pray God will cause Caleb's skin to heal so surgery is NOT needed.
The vet clinic sees where we are. Kim Woodhouse in her new book, Welcome Home, talks about James 1 2-4 - finding joy in trials. I'm trying to find "joy" in this distress. Potential joy in how the vet and all involved will react when Caleb makes an unexpected turn for the best and God provides the finances to pay. But in the mean time my attitude and John's attitude are key. We can't grump. I'm getting the nudge that I need to believe all this will happen (Caleb gets taken care of) before it does. So not me.
I need to see first, then praise later.
But that's not faith.
Yes, Caleb is a dog. He's not just a dog, he's my dog. A blessing God placed in my life almost 10 years ago.
UPDATE: Just got word from the vet. Good news. Caleb is doing well. Up and about, devouring food. Vitals are good. He's ready to come home. We'll have to take him in every 5-7 days to have dead skin tissue cut away (think burn victim). Doc wants to avoid surgery. Pray skin heals up very well.