Charlie, Charlie, Charlie

We knew the dogs would be excited to see us when we picked them up from the pet spa on Saturday after we returned from vacation, but we were somewhat disconcerted when we noticed Charlie was not his normal happy psycho dog self. He seemed a little off, more subdued than normal, there was no one thing that we could point at and say that is what is wrong. So we watched him and his behavior trying to figure out if he was getting better or worse. I thought that maybe he was depressed and then thought can a dog get depressed and why would he be depressed? Life inside a cool air conditioned house, good food and our soft bed, what is there to be depressed about? The only clue at first was his sad face.

Charlie continued to do all of the normal things we do every day; he had a healthy appetite eating everything put in front of him, walked at his normal fast “I have to be first” pace and jumped into bed with us to annoy us at night. He just didn’t have his happy face. But on Wednesday things went downhill fast.

Mitch called me at work that afternoon and said, “Something is wrong with the little brown dog.”

I asked what and he said, “At first he was walking around in circles with his head down and like he wanted to throw up, but he didn’t throw up. Then he started shaking, after that he wouldn’t put any weight on his left hind leg and it started to spasm uncontrollably. I have him lying down next to me, but something definitely wrong with Charlie.”

I called our vet and made an appointment to take Charlie in and finally figure out what was going on. I thought maybe he’d had a stroke or cancer. Mitch came by and picked me up so we could both go to the vet. The vet took one look at Charlie and said that the shaking was from pain. Charlie was in a great deal of pain and we couldn’t read the signs. All I could think of was that we suck as pet owners. He said that first thing to do was pain management and he would give him some morphine, then do some blood work and take some x-rays. He took Charlie and told us to come back in an hour.

Bracing ourselves for the worst, an hour later we walked back in the vet’s office and were ushered into an examination room. Charlie was standing there happy to see us, still pretty wobbly, but definitely in a little better shape than when we dropped him off, must have been the morphine. The vet brought in lots of x-rays to show us (that was going to cost us, I thought). He said that the blood work came back normal so that was a good thing. But he found something on the last x-ray he took, isn’t that always the case, never on the first x-ray. The x-ray was of Charlie lying on his side and about midway between his shoulders and hips there was a spot where it showed a spinal injury to one of his vertebrae. Our vet said that it looked like an old injury, but maybe being at the pet spa and playing with the other dogs, he may have re-injured it and that may be causing the pain and his inability to put any weight on the back leg. Plus he said that Charlie had a high fever running a temperature of a hundred and four. He said he gave Charlie a shot of antibiotics.

Our vet handed me two bottles of prescriptions, one was an antibiotic and one was pain medication. He also said we were in for a rough night. I didn’t think too much of what he said just thinking Charlie wasn’t going to die and this was going to be very expensive. We walked out to settle up with the receptionist and just about turned around to give Charlie back when she smiled and said that the bill was seven hundred thirty three dollars. That and the two hundred ninety nine dollars we paid the pet spa to keep the dogs while we were on vacation almost made me regret taking a vacation in the first place. Oh I know it’s nobody’s fault Charlie got hurt and sick, the same thing happens to children at daycare centers and we dearly love our vet and trust him implicitly with the dogs, it was just the shock of the amount. Why can’t I just add them both to my health insurance, pay my ten dollar co-pay and be done? Technically they are sort of like dependents, they depend upon me to feed them and walk them, so in the broadest sense of the word, they could be considered dependents. Too bad the insurance company doesn’t see it that way.

Oh well, I guess the next vacation will be a “staycation”.