Monday, 12 July 2010

Nine Lives Minus One

This is Miffy. She's a cranky, feisty old lady of 15, adept at mouse-tennis and bed-stealing, nemesis of Oscar Bin Laden, and Grand Master of the Dirty Look. Last Thursday night I thought I was about to lose her.

At about 11pm she suddenly got up from the spot on my bed she'd been hogging, and her rear left leg gave way. She kept trying to walk and eventually jumped off the bed, only to keel over, smashing gracelessly into the furniture. She careered down the hallway, listing badly to the left and using the wall for support. She lost control of her bowels, and left a nasty trail of poo through the house. I chased after her with toilet paper, picking up the lumps, then sat with her as she hid under a stool. There was much pitiful howling – some of it even came from Miffy. Her head shook from side to side, trying to keep up with her eyes, which were totally out of control. A stroke.

I felt so helpless. Was she about to die? I patted her gently, and for the first time in 15 years she didn't react angrily when I touched her back (there's a sore spot there which is the legacy of a dog attack when she was a tiny kitten). I guessed she couldn't feel her back.

What to do? If Miffy was human it would've been easy – dial 000 and ask for an ambulance.

Oscar Bin Laden was distressed, too. He's used to whacking Miffy, tormenting Miffy, pouncing on Miffy – but not protecting Miffy. He sat close by, very quietly, and didn't take his eyes off her. He's a fiendish little so-and-so, and he was probably calculating how much more food he would get if Miffy kicked the bucket – but it looked for all the world as if he was worried about her. Of course, while he was a comfort, he was no help.

I called my friend Mark – he's resourceful and unflappable. I was bawling. 'I think Miffy's dying and I don't know what to do...'

He arrived on the doorstep half an hour later after phoning his vet-friend Peter and putting him on stand-by. Miffy yowled and wobbled, and I sobbed and sniffled, and we began what I thought would be Miffy's Last Ride.

Not so – she's a tough old thing. By the time we arrived at Peter's she already seemed to be rallying. Still wobbly, she had regained enough sense of self to hobble away and hide, and to hiss at helping hands. Peter thought that was a pretty good sign. Rather than the fatal injection he'd expected she would need, he gave her a shot of cortisone, and cautiously suggested she might recover.

The next morning she was her old self again, albeit somewhat subdued. No sign of so much as a little limp – and she even managed to jump into the bath for a drink, because evidently the best water in the house comes out of the bathroom tap. Unbelievable. Look at this:

She ate, she drank, she pooed in my flowerbed again. Grrr. Oh, and the final proof of her full recovery? This morning she and Oscar were back to their bickering selves again: he torments, she reacts. Situation normal.

Thanks so much, Mark and Peter. And welcome back, Miffy!


zipper said...

We had something a bit similar with the Skye dog 5 or so years ago. Marion was doing night shift and Skye was keeping her spot warm on the bed when she suddenly went stiff as a board and fell off the bed. She appeared to be awake but in rigour, eyes open and dilated but she wouldn't respond. There I was at home without a car with a dog having a fit or seizure of some kind. She started coming out of it after 10 mins and slowly got better. Its happened a few more times over the years, the vet thinks it's probably epilepsy. Very distressing at the time.

Sue said...

I know what you mean - the awful feeling that you can't do anything to make it better - you just have to stand by and hope for the best.