Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

I took my puppy out for a walk this morning, as one does, you know. We were walking up the hill, stopping to sniff around and check things out, the way a puppy does when walking somewhere new, when I noticed up ahead there was a dog straining to urinate on his front lawn. It caught my eye really only because the dog was maintaining that position for so long. He seemed uncomfortable, stressed out, and oddly postured. Hmmm.

As we approached, I noticed the dog, whom I knew to be the type of dog who typically runs up and jumps on everything that approaches him, was on a tether, but that the tether was long enough that the dog could easily reach our spot on the sidewalk. Still, the dog did not move from his spot. He kept straining. My puppy sat on the sidewalk next to me, head cocked, looking at the dog. I stood there and wondered what to do.

Luckily, seconds later the dog's owner came outside and stood in his driveway. "Oh hey there!" he said. "That must be your new puppy! What a cutie!"

I smiled and thanked him and before I could even say anything else he said "Yeah, Brashly isn't doing so hot you know. He's had a kidney thing for a while, I think this might be it." I said "oh, you're aware. Good. I was worried about him and had actually been standing here thinking about whether I should knock on your door because it sure seems like he's having trouble urinating. He looks very uncomfortable to me." "Oh - trouble urinating? well, we had him at the vet last year because he was peeing small amounts all over, you know? and the vet said it might be stones and maybe we could fix it with diet change or maybe surgery - but also he said it might be a tumor, or even something else. He wanted to do an xray, but, you know - Brashly's eleven years old. We ended up taking him home to think about it and then just forgot about it for a while, it was kind of inconvenient all the walks but it didn't seem like that big a deal, but now you know we have to leave him tethered out here all day because he just drips urine now and then and never really actually pees. And a couple of days ago he pretty much stopped eating, so - I think we'll get him to the vet soon, but, I'm not sure he'll come home. See how he's standing there with that look on his face? He does that all the time. He'll stay like that for hours."

Readers with a medical background can probably feel my blood pressure rising through their keyboards at this point. This poor dog has been suffering progressive urinary tract disease for a YEAR, and is now at the point where he literally can not pee more than a couple of drops even when he stands there and strains FOR HOURS, and he's dying in front of them slowly and painfully and - here's what really blows my mind - IT IS COMPLETELY DUE TO IGNORANCE (with a small side of average intelligence).

I *know* these people. They have a child the same age as one of my children. That child desperately wants to be good friends with my child, but my child isn't so interested because "that kid is really kind of boring." Oh well, you know, kids. But these people are friendly, charitable, service-minded, professional people. I see them at local charity functions, doing volunteer work at the library, all kinds of things like that. They definitely love their dog and have expressed their feelings of love for the dog to me on more than one occasion.

I spent about five minutes standing there, with a smile and look of concern on my face, telling this dog's owner that regardless of the cause of the obstruction, at this point, their dog is suffering, and he needs to go to the veterinarian TODAY. He asked me if they should have done the recommended xrays last year and maybe this wouldn't be happening and I told him the truth - if diagnostics had, for example, revealed stones in the bladder and they had been surgically removed and the dog maintained on an appropriate diet, then hey, maybe it would be fine today. But, I have no retrospectoscope nor do I have a crystal ball, so I can't say for sure what would have or will happen. Regardless, as soon as I finished talking to him, he whipped out his cell phone and made an appointment for later this morning with his dog's veterinarian. So, there is that.


  1. Blood pressure. Rising. How frustrating!! At least the guy called his vet right away. The amount of sufferring that poor dog was experiencing, I can't even imagine. Sometimes I wonder what happens to the clients I never see again "just want to think about it for a night". I hope this isn't always the outcome. I'd be interested to know the diagnosis. If you ever find out, please share!

  2. I have the luxury of not having to placate assholes like this, because the health of their pets isn't in my hands. It's in yours. I'm sure you sometimes have to walk a fine line between guiding a pet owner toward the proper course of treatment,and pissing them off by shoving the obvious in their faces.

    I despise the notion of what I call "pets as furniture": having a dog because you like the idea of it, but then can't or won't live up to the responsibilities inherent in pet ownership. Bring a life into your home, then ignore it. Keep it kenneled or tied-up outside all day, feed it the cheapest shit food available, deprive it of basic medical care. WTF is wrong with people?

    In my old blog, I once wrote that dogs are proof that a supreme being exits. I believe that, and I live it. On the two occasions my dog had to go to an emercency vet clinic (he liked to eat stuff that wouldn't fit through the pipes), I just tossed a signed blank check on the desk and told them to fill in the amount when they were done. I can't imagine doing anything else, and still being able to look at myself in the mirror.

    OK, I'm off sick with the flu today and feeling extra cynical and grumpy and ranty. Think I'll go sample one of Mrs. Cynical's Xanax.....

  3. Yes. I can also say "failure of intellect" and "failure of integrity" and "failure of basic human decency", all of which apply in this scenario. Jesus wept. It's no wonder we drink.

  4. Sadly, I see this in ER all too often. People have pets with all sorts of serious things wrong with them & yet they elect not to treat or even put to sleep. I get angry & want to report them.

    I've been places where the bosses didn't want me to report this cruelty/neglect or make the owners feel like bad pet owners for waiting too long or not doing something to help the poor pet. I've even offered to do humane euthanasia at no cost & had people decline.

  5. Thank you so much for mentally slapping some knowledge into these people. I expect I'll see their equivalent on my next overnight.

  6. Gah. That is a very sad situation. That dog should have gotten the care he needed eons ago, poor dear :(

    Having had a bladder and a kidney infection in my 20's I can feel only relate to a smidgeon of what this dog has gone through.

  7. Can you say taking "lost" dog to the vet myself? Grrr

  8. Holy god, that was depressing. At least he called his vet immediately.

    My in-laws did the same with their older dog. He was 10 or so, large breed. I went to visit, and he was noticeably ill. Limping, dribbling urine, and felt febrile. They thought he was just "getting old." I hounded them to take him into see his vet, and he turned out to have RMSF. With doxycycline, he lived another healthy 2 years.


  9. While I'm clocked in or dealing with a client out of the hospital, I have to be nice and follow the rules, so to speak. On my own time and to a non-client who doesn't know me from Eve, I will let both barrels blast at such cruelty!