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Old 07-21-2010, 09:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Buddy the Pit Bull Part 6

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Buddy Rose the Pit Bull Part VI


Thursday, June 10
The Colonel said, " We have to find out what's wrong with him to see if he will ever be able to walk again."

"Okay. Where do we get the money?" I replied.

"I don't know. Charge it on a credit card? We really do have to find out what's wrong with him. We have to do something. We can't give up on him. We can't just put him down and not know why he can't walk."

We were two days away from Buddy's three weeks of supportive care for a neurological issue. Buddy is not walking. He is showing no sign of recovery. The Colonel had no idea of the tears I cried in the yard the day before, but apparently we were feeling the same thing. We made the commitment to Buddy. We needed to do whatever we could to get him up and walking again. We made the decision to call the vet and discuss other options and to go into debt if we must to find out what was wrong with this big guy.

The Colonel called the vet and left a message for him to call us back. When the vet returned out call we were a little surprised at what he wanted us to do for Buddy. Instead of seeing Buddy and running tests on him, he wanted to refer Buddy to a specialist. He wanted us to take Buddy to Dublin, CA in the San Francisco Bay area and see an Internal Medicine Vet. We agreed and waited again for our vet to call us back with an appointment date and time.

We were a little confused at this referral. I have used this veterinary office for more than ten years and the Colonel had used the same for more than thirty. Never, ever had we been referred somewhere else. Several years ago, our vet built a state of the art veterinary office and hospital. We took our last dog, Drew, there for the last ten years of her life. Drew was 18 and in ill health when we made the excruciatingly painful decision to put her down. In our minds, Drew probably paid the mortgage on this state of the art facility for several months during the last few years of her life. Yet, we were being referred to a "specialist."

I did some research on the Internet about pet referrals to specialists. In my opinion, our vet gave up on Buddy. He did not want us to incur the cost of, what he thought to be, useless testing at his facility. Maybe he thought if we spent lots of money with him on Buddy and he couldn't make Buddy well, we would get mad and take our business to another vet. His practice would suffer because he would no longer make money off of the healthy pets in our household. This is just my opinion. We did think it was very different to be referred to a specialist that was more than an hour away.

Our vet's office called us back late that afternoon. Buddy's appointment was Monday at 2PM. We were also told the cost for this initial consultation with the Internal Medicine Vet would be around $200.

We had three days to plan our trek to Dublin with Buddy. Traffic patterns driving into the Bay Area from the Central Valley of California can be tricky. Rush hour traffic in the mornings and afternoons can turn an hour's drive into a two hour traffic filled, stop and go mess. The appointment time of 2PM was a great middle of the day time to travel with Buddy to Dublin. If we could have the consultation and be on our way back home by 3:30 or so, we should avoid all of the major commuting delays and Buddy would have to spend less time riding in the car.

We decided we could not ride with Buddy for an hour each way with him flopping and flailing around in a seat. This trip would have a lot more riding for him than our short 5 minute trips to our vet's office and Buddy needed to be safe and secure. Saturday morning I went to Wal-Mart and purchased the largest dog crate they sold, brought it home, assembled it and parked it in our living room with the door open. We took a couple of Buddy's unlaundered towels and blankets and put them inside the crate with a few dog treats.

During this entire process, Buddy and Mollie were laying on the floor watching us. They were attentive to what we were doing, but neither really came over to check out or sniff the crate. We moved away from the crate and pretended to watch television. Buddy crawled over to the crate, sniffing the air and the floor. He stuck his head inside the crate's door and retrieved one of the treats. Then he stretched a little further and picked up another treat. Mollie the Mini-Schnauzer's nose was in the air sniffing as Buddy quickly swallowed the 2nd treat. Dogs don't think like humans. You would think we could figure this out and not try to plan our own outcomes for our dogs. The next thing we knew, Mollie was inside the big crate quickly scarfing down all of the dog treats. Buddy was smacking his lips at the door of the crate watching Mollie eat all of the treats. The wrong dog was inside the crate! To be fair, we gave Buddy a couple of extra doggie treats and left the two of them to explore the crate on their own.

On Monday, we put Buddy's "night-night" blanket in the big crate and put the crate in the back of the Explorer. We gathered Buddy's water bowl, some bottled water, old towels and a leash. Because we were leaving Mollie at home, something we rarely did, she got a longer than usual morning walk so she would be really tired when we left. I picked up Buddy, took him outside and laid him down in the grass. After the sniff, sniff, sniff and tail flagged straight up in the air, I picked him up and put him in the crate. Once in the crate, he started whining and then he started barking. When the car was moving, Buddy would calm down. When we came to a red light or stop sign, Buddy would start barking again. I don't know if you have ever heard a Pit Bull bark inside a car. I am sure we were quite the sight at every stop we made. This Pit Bull could drown out the loudest music or bass thumping coming from any of the cars around us. Luckily, soon, we were on the freeway with no more stops.

As we drove to see this special Internal Medicine Vet, again we talked about what we thought were all of the available options and outcomes for Buddy Rose. We were both in pretty high spirits knowing we were finally going to find out what was going on with this sweet dog. When we reached the vet clinic, the Colonel went in to wait for our exam room. I gave Buddy some fresh water and sat on the rear bumper waiting with him for the Colonel to return.

I am a planner. I plan everything. I had planned out all of the available outcomes for this wonderful dog. I knew the path of each available outcome. I knew Buddy could walk again. I knew we were on the right track to getting him healthy and back on all four paws. I could not have planned for what happened in that exam room, the options we were given, or my reaction.

The special Internal Medicine Vet came into the exam room and watched Buddy crawl around the floor. He performed a very short physical exam. He asked a few questions, one of which was how Buddy urinated and defecated. We tried our best to explain how Buddy performed these functions extraordinarily and really had worked out all of these details before he came to live with us. The vet took out a piece of paper and drew a diagram with three options. The first option was to perform a battery of tests which included blood work, an x-ray of his lungs, a CT scan of his spine with referral to a surgeon to review and a spinal tap to draw fluid from Buddy's spine for testing . The second option was a referral to one of only two veterinary neurologists in Northern California. The third option was to have Buddy put down.

We came this far to have tests run on Buddy to find out why he was not walking. We chose option number one. As we discussed this option with the vet, he started another diagram of the associated costs. He kept writing and adding. In the end, he gave us an estimate of just under $2,000 for the tests, associated medications and overnight boarding. If the CT scan showed spinal cord damage, injury or disc compression, and reparative surgery was an option, this surgery could cost an additional $5,000.

I don't know what was going through my mind but I was overwhelmed by this information. The vet gave us three options. After choosing what we thought was the best option, I could only see two outcomes. The first, Buddy would be staying at the vet overnight. He would not be making the return trip home with us. I was not prepared for leaving Buddy at the vet's overnight. If the blood work or spinal fluid tests showed some horrible disease, Buddy might never come home again. The second outcome, I couldn't see spending $2,000 for tests which would likely show we needed to spend another $5,000 to get him walking. When I agreed to "charge" the expense, I had no idea we would talking this kind of money. I knew if we agreed to the $2,000 and they found a spinal issue, we would then have to make the very, very difficult decision of spending another $5,000 or putting Buddy down. I had read enough to know that neck surgery on dogs for spinal issues had a very poor prognosis. I couldn't be positive about either of my outcomes.

As we agreed to let them keep Buddy overnight, I was holding back tears. The Colonel signed all of the necessary paperwork and they strapped Buddy to a gurney and took him to "the back." I was not functioning well. The Colonel reminded staff that Buddy had not had anything to eat or drink since midnight and he would need food and water. The Colonel told the staff he would need to be carried out and placed in the grass for him to go to the bathroom. The Colonel asked if we could see him in his kennel before we left. We stepped out into the lobby to wait on the official estimate, pay half of this amount, and wait to see Buddy. In the lobby, I couldn't stop the tears. Then I couldn't stop the sobs. I told the Colonel I could not go and tell Buddy goodbye, I was too upset. I changed my mind. We told Buddy goodbye, gave him some goodbye pats and rubs, and left him at the vet.

With the empty crate in the back of the car, the ride home was a very, very long one.
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