Some friends went on vacation last week, leaving their three dogs to be looked after by neighbors. One of the dogs died while they were away. The details aren't mine to share, but I bring it up anyway because the other two dogs ended up moving into our house for the duration. So now, in addition to our four kids and a big Airedale Terrier, we have a cute little mutt and a beautiful old greyhound shacking up with us.
The house has been busy.
Casey, our Airedale, is thrilled to have the company, especially as he seems to be of the opinion that the new dogs have superior food, and the new dogs are happy to share. So: a win-win.
I don't know if Casey has overexerted himself playing with them, or if it's something else, but he has suddenly become quite unwell. He's been suffering from arthritis, or so the Chinese vet told us, for quite some time. But yesterday he was unable to stand up. And once up, he was unable to sit down. Last night, he stood next to the bedroom door almost the entire night, unable or unwilling to lie down.
I took him back to the Chinese vet today. Actually, there were two vets: one owns a nearby kennel and speaks great English, the other speaks almost no English but comes to work periodically at the kennel.
This second man did a complete exam, including bloodwork, thermometer up the whoozit, and general poking around. Casey stood patiently as the doctor cut the fur away from his eyes, one of which is apparently infected. He stood as the doctor pulled and stretched his legs - I couldn't stand to watch, it looked so painful. The only time my calm old dog reacted was when the vet reached under him and poked at his stomach. Casey tried to bite him.
So. Where does that leave us?
Apparently, in addition to the arthritis, which has gotten so bad that his legs constantly shake, he has "something" wrong with his stomach. But they don't know what. We've switched his food - we just bought a bag of imported "mobility" food, which I believe contains glucosamine. 14 kilograms = $115. He got two shots: I think they said one was a painkiller and one was an antibiotic. He got two kinds of antibiotic eyedrops. He got some oral "probiotics." And he has to go back next Saturday.
I asked: if he's in this much pain, when do we think about euthanasia? The vet took a deep breath, then said "let's wait a week and see if he feels any better." A non-answer answer. I don't think they're big on euthanasia here. They seem to believe that suffering is just a part of living, and the animal should live it out. So I don't know what will happen.
But the poor dog! I suppose I can look around and see if there is a clinic downtown that can do an x-ray so we get a more definitive answer. But I think, for now, we will wait it out and see how he does. He's a bit better today, and has thus far been able to lay down and get up as necessary. But he's still panting and seeming quite distressed, and I just wish I could help him.
We bought him in Moscow - he's a purebred Airedale puppy, and we paid $150 for him (just a bit more than that bag of food cost today). He moved with us to Armenia, Kazakhstan and the States before coming here. We've been worried for awhile about how he'll handle the long trip home and then on to Jordan, because he's gotten so old and shaky lately. Now I'm just wondering how he'll make it comfortably through the night.
Times like these, you miss your basic western-trained vet. I have horror stories about veterinary care in Moscow, where the vet made house calls and actually performed surgery on the dining room tables of several friends of mine. And the things our dogs went through in Kazakhstan - yikes.
When I'm overseas, the combination of language barrier and differing attitudes toward animals combines to make me less-than-certain that I'm dealing with a doctor who sees the world the way I do.
And I really need to make sure I take care of this dog in the best possible way. I owe him that.