We have flyball practice each Saturday morning - Veronica and Marley race and this week we decided to take Ralphie and Frankie along just because. By the time we made it home I was rushing to get ready for our weekly adoption day - I was about to jump in the shower when Brandon came in the door with Veronica, Marley and Ralphie. I remember laughing because they were all on leash and were dragging him thru the door.
I showered and decided to lay down for about 30 mintues. Um, yeah. An hour and a half later, Brandon woke me up with, "You are SOOOO late!!" So we scrambled around getting ready to leave and started putting dogs in crates. Wait a sec...where the hell is Frankie??
We looked in all of his favorite hiding places - in the bed, under the bed, under the end table, under the computer table...nothing. So I rush out to check the car (sadly, we've left him in the car before). Nothing. By this time THREE HOURS have passed since we got home from flyball. And it's been pouring down rain the entire time.
Brandon grabbed an umbrella and took off running thru the neighborhood screaming at the top of his lungs. Just as I grabbed my car keys, I saw Frankie sitting at our glass front door. Outside. Soaking wet. And shivering. Apparently he'd gotten out of the car with the other dogs, but never came in the house. So for THREE HOURS, little Frankie was who-knows-where, in the rain. And we had no freaking clue he was even gone. By the time Brandon made it back up our street I was standing in the rain holding Frankie and sobbing.
We're back to frequent and random dog head counts - I can safely say that when I left the house this morning, everyone was present and accounted for!
Then Sunday happened. We woke up at 9am - all the dogs got a few minutes in the yard and then we started feeding. Ralphie eats in his crate which is in our den. He was perfectly fine when he got up and even jumped the baby gate (that he's not supposed to jump) to get to his crate for breakfast once he came in from the yard.
Fast-forward to 11am. Not all of our dogs get along so we crate/separate/rotate them to make sure 1) everyone has equal play time and 2) that playtime is safe. I opened Ralphie's crate to let him out and...nothing. I looked in and he was laying there all but completely unresponsive. He could almost lift his head and could follow me with his eyes, but that was it. He couldn't stand up and seemed to be in a fog. He'd also pooped in his bed which is unheard of for him.
My first thought was "seizure"...which, on its own wouldn't necessarily alarm me. Mazie has one random seizure maybe every 18 mos - not often enough that we would medicate for it, but we know the symptoms that usually follow and we know that the only thing we can do is try to keep her from hurting herself or others until she comes out of it. But Ralphie's other symptoms didn't add up. His gums were white (suggesting either a problem with his circulation or internal bleeding), his normally red nose was almost blue tinted and his skin was cold and clammy. His temp was only 97* (normal for an "average" dog is 100* - 102*) and his breathing was shallow and rapid.
So I call Brandon and tell him that Ralphie needs to go to the emergency vet asap. Let me insert here that it takes a LOT for me to go to our REGULAR vet...so when Brandon heard that I was headed for the EMERGENCY vet, he knew it was serious. While I was digging frantically for Ralphie's medical records, he was able to stand up and walk to me on his own, but he was wobbly and still in a fog.
By the time we got to the emergency clinic, Ralphie was walking on his own but still was not himself. His temp was up to 98* (still considered mildly hypothermic) and he still had all the classic symptoms of being in shock. His heart rate was 160 bpm. His red blood cell count was slightly elevated as was one liver value that the vet felt would be corrected with fluids.
True to emergency clinic fashion, the tech came in with a "suggested protocol" along with an estimate. They wanted to keep him overnight on an EKG (in case he had another seizure...although I told them repeatedly that we weren't certain he'd even had ONE) and give him an injection for his vomitting (althought I told them repeatedly that he vomittED...once...he wasn't vomittING). That, along with the exam and the bloodwork would only run us...$700. Um, okay. Let's take a step back and re-evaluate the situation.
I know I'm the parent that most vets hate - I like to think I'm pretty well informed and even level-headed when it comes to vet care. I also INSIST on being actively involved in my dogs' care - I want more than just a cost estimate, tell me WHY you think something needs to be done and please don't assume I'm looking for a status quo "this is what I would do if he were my dog" answer.
I agreed to the anti-vomitting injection (because it was all but being shoved down my throat) and requested sub-cutaneous fluids since they felt he was dehydrated. I told them that, at that point, WE would decide if WE thought he needed to stay overnight. By then, his color had already started to return and he was beginning to perk up. The 350ml of sub-q fluid (which hung in a big lump on his side earning him the the temporary nickname "Quasimodo") helped TREMENDOUSLY and in the end we decided to take Ralphie home for the night. Less the $300 that we were charged.
He spent most of Sunday afternoon sleeping in his crate and he's been perfectly fine ever since. He'll spend tomorrow at our regular vet's clinic where he's scheduled for a chest/abdomen x-ray and an EKG to determine if his heartbeat is at all irregular. I honestly don't expect any more answers tomorrow than I already have today. I think it would be like trying to diagnose my asthma while I'm NOT having an attack. If that's the case, we'll just hold our breath for the next few weeks, hoping this was an isolated incident.