I saw the sweetest, most adorable Doberman today named Frieda.
Unfortunately, Frieda was dying.
Frieda was eight years old and became acutely ill this morning, began breathing hard and lost her appetite.
Late this afternoon Frieda came in for an examination and we quickly saw that the prognosis was poor. She had labored breathing, her gums were pale and blue, her ribs stuck out and her abdomen was thin and tense.
We performed a heartworm test and a stool test (for intestinal parasites) and gave the owner the sad news. “Frieda is in heart failure as a result of heartworms congesting the flow of blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs. There is probably tremendous inflammation in the pulmonary arteries and airways as a result of the heartworm disease. Her lungs are filling with fluid because of the heart failure. She is not a candidate for any kind of treatment, as she has no capacity for healing or recovery. This is a terrible way to die, and the humane thing to do is to put her to sleep so she does not have to suffer further.”
Tears flowed, and he made the decision. The procedure went smoothly, and Frieda’s gasping breaths stopped.
Veterinarians are generally a really caring group of people. And, generally, I have as much compassion as most veterinarians. Cases like this, which are totally preventible deaths, really get to me.
Unfortunately, I had other patients to see and ShuShu was next with an eye problem. In the course of small talk during ShuShu’s examination her Dad mentioned that they had another dog at home. That was a surprise to me, since I’d been treating ShuShu for 2 ½ years and never heard of “SheShe.”
“What doctor has been treating SheShe?” I inquired, adding, “I didn’t know you had another dog.”
“Well, actually,” Dad admitted sheepishly, “she hasn’t been anywhere in a long time.”
“That’s what happened to the dog that just went out in a bag,” I said before I could catch myself. Sometimes, after a difficult case, emotions and words just flow and take over.
Dad then said, “Well, you now have 100% of my attention, and I’ll be sure to get her in right away. What did the dog die from?”
We discussed some of the bad things that can happen to both pets and people when we don’t get regular preventive care.
It is said that the Lord works in mysterious ways.
He sure worked to make something good out of Frieda’s sad story today.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.