I often wonder what my dogs would say if they could talk.
And usually, I’m glad they don’t. I don’t know if I could tolerate hearing Indy nag me all day for a rawhide treat or Sunny complaining about her dinner.
But there’s definitely one time when I wish they could talk: when they’re sick.
It’s so hard to try and figure out what’s wrong with our pets. We look for signs — she’s not eating, she’s lethargic, she’s panting more than usual, she’s vomiting — but we can’t often tell what’s the underlying cause. It would be so much easier if they could just tell us what’s ailing them.
I felt this way recently when Opae, our eight-year-old rat terrier mix, fell ill.
A few days ago, in the middle of the night, we heard that usual gag of vomiting. She spit up a bunch of grass she had eaten earlier, and I didn’t think much of it.
But later that morning, on our regular hike up to the Makapu‘u Lighthouse, she pooped globs of blood. In fact, blood continued to drip out of her anus. I freaked out, called the vet, and made my way down the trail and to the car.
Turns out, Opae had some kind of gastrointestinal infection that required a round of antibiotics and a bland diet. But when we got home, the diarrhea continued — only it was spontaneous. She couldn’t control it. She was embarrassed and in pain and we didn’t know what to do.
After two nights of this, we packed her up and went back to Feathers and Fur Animal Hospital in Kailua, which offers emergency care services. Opae hadn’t been eating, hadn’t been drinking water, hadn’t been sleeping. We were desperate.
There aren’t many situations that stress me out more than my dogs being sick or unhappy. I feel helpless and useless — and I hate watching them suffer.
This is how I felt all weekend. Let’s just say I ate a lot of chocolate and didn’t sleep much.
Our vet recommended Opae stay overnight to get a new round of antibiotics via an IV. She wanted to monitor her, make sure she was eating, drinking, pooping properly.
We didn’t pick up her until Monday afternoon, after more than 24 hours at the animal hospital. She was scared and miserable and ready to come home.
And we were ready to have her home.
Opae was discharged with two different kinds of oral antibiotics and packets of probiotic powder that we have to dust on her food. She can’t eat anything but bland food — like chicken and rice — and her physical activity is limited to just walking short distances.
As soon as she came home, she started acting normally — running up the stairs, wagging her tail, drinking water and begging for snacks. Our sweet little Opae was back — and it felt great.
Now I hope I can get some sleep finally.