Routine and Not So Routine

28 May 2017   1.00PM.    53 F. Overcast

Each Spring, we draw up a “hit list” of dogs. If you’re on the list, then you’re headed to the vets to have your reproductive bits removed !

With as many dogs as we have, it is imperative that we can control our numbers and having  accidental, unwanted pregnancies is one sure way of ending up with  more dogs than even we desire. To that end, we tend to keep our intact females in their own separate pen and post armed security guards when any of them are in season.  Each time any of our girls come in, it seems like our nice, calm kennel becomes a madhouse of hormonal and horny males. The boys seem to have one of two default settings. Either they figure that screaming and whining incessantly is extremely attractive or as an alternative, refusing all food makes them irresistible to the opposite sex. Unfortunately this behavior takes place whether there is 1 girl in season or 17 – and it will go on as long as there are girls worth pining for. And of course, the girls rarely co-ordinate their seasons to get it all over with quickly.

Last year, because of our house being rebuilt after the Sockeye Fire, we didn’t manage to get anyone into the vets as we didn’t have a suitable secluded recovery space. So, we have a busy summer planned to try and catch up and get some of those girls fixed, especially a couple of the older ones.

Last week, Queen and Kalinka were booked in to be spayed. Queen has done her part and has produced 2 wonderful litters for us and Kalinka is unfortunately just too old at 8 1/2, for us to risk having her maiden litter. She is a great sled dog and even more importantly a really pleasant dog to have around, and I would have loved Klinker puppies but it was not to be. On Wednesday, they were dropped off at our vets in Wasilla for their routine spay. When I got home, my wife mentioned that Ruya was behaving a bit oddly and drinking a lot of water. A quick look over of her didn’t really gave us any clues and with her temperature being normal, we had no further cause for alarm.  She ate her breakfast happily and seemed to be fine. Over the course of the morning, she continued to drink excessively and we noticed that her stomach was fairly full. One of our thoughts was a gastric torsion, but having been through several of this with different dogs, we’re pretty clued in on the physical signs and she wasn’t exhibiting those. But something wasn’t right. So, off we go to the vets.

Ruya trotted into the vets office, tail swishing and generally looking like all was well with the world, apart from having a belly that now looked like she was 8 weeks pregnant. Her blood test results were impressive. I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many of the indicators actually outside the printed box. The X-rays just showed stuff that wasn’t supposed to be there, and the ultrasound really only confirmed what had become very evident. Ruya was very, very ill. She had a hemagiosarcoma on her spleen that had ruptured and she was bleeding out. Because of the fluid and the enlarged spleen, it wasn’t possible to tell if her liver or any other organs were involved. We’ve had dogs lose their spleen and live for years, but if it was more than that, her diagnosis went from pretty damn bad to hopeless. A couple of tearful phone calls to my wife and we came to a decision. Doing nothing wasn’t an option, Ruya needed a blood transfusion before anything could be done, and fortunately one of the vets had her dog in the office, who donated his blood to help save our girl. By now, it was way past closing time and we will always be truly grateful to everyone at All Creatures who stayed to carry out Ruya’s surgery.

With Roo on the table, there was nothing more I could do, so I collected Queen and Kalinka and drove them home. One of the good things about having a yard full of dogs, is that no matter how sad and worried you are, the love and positive energy that flows from those dogs helps to lift your spirits. When my cellphone rang, I happened to be surrounded by 9 of our girls, all wanting attention and being just what I needed them to be. The news was as good as it could be. Ruya had made it through surgery – which was an achievement on its own. The cancer was seemingly confined to her spleen and they had managed to remove it and she was sitting up and looking around. A long way from being out of the woods but at least she had a fighting chance.

Now, 10 days later, apart from a shaved belly, a wound closed by about 50 staples and bald patches on her legs from the areas shaved for the cannulas, you’d be hard pressed to know that she was literally at death’s door.

Oh yeah, Queen and Kalinka joined her in the recovery bedroom to get over their surgeries. Those poor girls got a little less attention than they would have normally, but they still seemed to enjoy being in the house and going for leisurely strolls.

Walking the recovering patients.

Life with dogs is never dull, but sometimes, it could be less stressful.

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