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 Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :

What a difference a week makes

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry

What a difference a week makes.

Last week I wrote a column about Buddy, my pound pooch (Think Tramp as in Lady and the Tramp) who was in the hospital and not expected to live. We put him in the pet hospital on the 7th of this month. He was diagnosed to have an immune disorder that caused anemia and possibly could not be treated.

Our routine is to take him to the overnight emergency clinic at 6pm and then pick him up at 7am and take him to the vet doctor, where they look over him during the day. Then we start the process all over again. His red blood count should be in the 40-45% range and it was going down as low as 11%. Then they would give him a blood transfusion and it would go up but come down in a few hours. Last Tuesday I wrote a column with the expectation that he was not going to make it and we would have to put him to sleep.

Weíve had him for ten years and the vet thinks he was about three when we got him, so he is an old dog, but if we could keep him for a little while longer, we thought we should try.

On Wednesday morning (last week) I went to the vet and we talked about his chances. Not good and getting worse, so we agreed to come back at 4 PM and let him go. We called our boys and were to meet at the vet clinic. As I started to leave he tried to break away from the doctor and wanted to go out with me. He still had spirit. I could not go back to work and sat down at my computer and looked up his diagnosis on the internet. Several sources told me that removal of his spleen might save him. I called the vet and she told me that his chances of surviving the operation were about 15%. I thought 15% was better than what we were going to do at 4PM which was 0%. I would rather have him die on us on an operating table than sticking a needle in him without trying everything we could.

For the operation we had to take him to a different clinic that specialized in these kinds of procedures. They removed his spleen on Thursday morning and he made it through without a hitch. They biopsied the spleen and the liver and didnít like how the liver looked and thought it might be cancer. They had to send it off and it would take four or five days to get the results back. In the meantime he had a total of five transfusions. The vets had never had a dog go past two. My advice to you is to keep on trying and not to give up. Animal treatments vary and you need to be informed about various options.

All weekend long we have vacillated between laughing at how much we enjoyed this little animal and crying if we had to put him to sleep in a few days. The doctors have called each morning at 8am to give us an update. My wife and I as well as our boys are beside ourselves with worry. We know Buddy is old and if he has cancer, we have to let him go. But those of you reading this know what you go through when you have to make this decision. It isnít easy, at least not for us.

His blood count went back up to 19% and has stabilized. They called today and are giving him another dose of an immune medicine and we can pick him up tomorrow. There was no guarantee he would get better. We may not be able to keep him much longer, but his appetite is great and if he builds red blood cells back up and gets stronger, well thatís a good thing. If we have to, weíd rather have him leave us here at home rather than in a cage at the hospital.

This whole episode has evoked mixed feeling from friends and associates. About half cannot understand spending money on a dog this old. The other half agree that we have to do what we can for the things we love. In our family this is a dog who is a member of our family, not just an animal.

I was saving money for a new truck, but personally Iíd rather have Buddy the wonder dog around for a while longer. I can always get a truck. I canít always get a new dog.


© Peary Perry
Letters From North America
- March 17, 2010 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

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