The situation we had to endure over the course of the past two nights was literally straight out of a nightmare. We overcame and are appearing more and more to be victorious ... thanks to His strength and our faith ... and as with all things, we look back and see the lesson in it all. During the time, our emotions were high, we ended up physically wrung out, and we again got to experience the kindness ... “NOT” ... of people. I feel, however, that through it all we glorified God, and it will conclude how He sees fit.
My husband has 9 hunting beagles. They are of the small breed because he has always preferred the smaller beagles to the larger ones. Their weight runs anywhere from 8 pounds to 15 pounds. They are so precious and definitely my husband’s babies. They take up a large part of my husband’s life in general, and they are a great portion of his daily routine.
Before I share with you what occurred, let me paint a picture for you so you can understand just how baffling and trying this whole ordeal was for us. My husband has 4 dog pens. All of them are of a good size so his dogs have room to frolick in, but one is bigger than the other three. We refer to this one as the ‘hospital’. It is where they go when they have had surgery, are going to have puppies, or are simpy sick. It segregates them from the rest of the dogs, and it gives them space to heal without interruption. The building which is actually the ‘hospital’ is big enough so a person could comfortably stay all night with the dog if he had too. Then, of course, it has a nice fenced in yard so the patient can get some fresh air. It is quite the little setup.
All my husband’s pens have automatic dog feeders, water bowl warmers so the water does not freeze up, and heat in the dog houses. On top of that, my husband built the dog houses above ground and each has its own deck so the dogs can stretch out and enjoy the sunlight during summer months. You should see them sometimes relaxing on these decks. They truly have it made and are very well taken care of. As you can see, basically these pens could literally take care of themselves except for someone having to go down once a day to make sure their water is good and to clean out the pens! Not my husband though, he has to go down at least 2-3 times a day so he can spend quality time with them. He sits on the deck and they have a blast jumping all over him. He feels they need a sense of personal touch from him daily, and he enjoys spending the time with him. They love him so much, and believe me, the feeling is mutual. This should give you a better ability to conceive how terrifying things were for us over the past two days, especially for my husband.
Around 3:00 on Wednesday, my husband went down to the pens to check on the dogs. He found one dog laid on its side, having what seemed to be a seizure and foaming at the mouth. My husband grabbed the dog and rushed it to the vet. Basically the vet gave it some medicine to help stop the seizure, but he could not treat what he could not see. Therefore, he gave my husband some medicine to give the dog to help it relax a bit and advised my husband to take it home to keep a watch over it. They drew blood and now it was a waiting game. They hoped to have the blood work and other tests back by 10:00 that evening.
Picture this small dog frothing at the mouth and enduring total loss of its body functions. It would literally tremble and its head would swing around as if it had no connection to the body at all. It was quite a frightening thing to watch. It made it almost impossible to hold the dog as it was constantly twisting its body which made it difficult to grasp on to.
As my husband was returning from the vet, we both pulled into the driveway as I was returning from work. It was about 6:30 or so. I stood outside and chatted with him awhile, cried over the sight of this dog suffering as it was, and I went into the house. My husband headed down to the pens to put Squirt into the hospital and stay with him until we had further instructions from the vet. It was a waiting game, and we knew it was going to be a long night.
I had not been in the house for very long when my son and I heard my husband hollering for us. Aggravated because I had not even had time to change out of my dress clothes, I ran out the door to see what he wanted. As I rounded the side of the house, he hollered again and I knew now it was not good. I could hear the panic and terror in my husband’s voice. I took off running. What I saw next was horrifying. We had three more dogs down in the same condition as Squirt was found in earlier. My husband was literally walking in circles ... looking lost and hopeless ... on the telephone with our vet. We still had not gotten the results back on the test from the first one, and here it was we had three more to deal with. Our vet said in no uncertain terms to get all four of these dogs to the emergency hospital immediately. My son, my husband, and I loaded the dogs into the pen in the back of the truck. My son stayed at home to watch over the other dogs. As we were loading the dogs, I had tears just streaming down my face. It was breaking my heart to see the fear in my husband’s eyes, and it was tearing at my heart to watch these poor innocent beagles in such torment. They did not seem to be in pain, but all of them were frothing at the mouth and twisting their bodies in unnatural ways. It was one of the most terrifying sights I have ever witnessed.
The animal hospital was put on alert we were coming, but it would be 45 minutes before we could get there. Our biggest concern was whether our babies could make it that far. How many would we find dead in the dog box when we arrived? It was the longest drive of our lives, or so it seemed.
As we were traveling, our vet received the blood results and other test results. He in turn sent them immediately to the hospital so they would know what to do as soon as we arrived. It appeared our dogs had somehow gotten toxins in their body. The poisons were causing our dogs to do the things they were doing. Of course, we were unaware of this until we arrived at the hospital. What a nightmare this turned out to be aside from what we had already been through.
We arrived at the hospital around 7:30 or so. I am not sure of the time exactly, but I would say this was a pretty good estimate. Of course, we are thinking they will rush our babies in right away and start treating them. They were literally dying in our eyesight, with one of them dying in my own arms. I felt so helpless. All I could do was cry and try to love them as much as possible. Did they even know me? Did they even hear my cries for them? Did they feel our love and get security from it? My husband sat across from me in the little room they ushered us into, and he had no color to him at all. He looked so lost and hopeless.
Well we waited and then we waited some more! It was after 8:00 before we saw anyone. It was the vet tech coming in to assess the situation. Now I realize this is normal protocol in hospitals ... nurses come in first to take your vitals and ask you questions. I was on board with this under normal circumstances, but this was anything but routine. Our dogs were twisting their bodies in unnatural mannners right in front of us and foaming at the mouth. She could see this! She simply continued taking vitals and asking questions. On top of that, she advised us that our dogs were suffering from some sort of poison as they had been advised by the results they received from our vet.
Hold it right here ... you are telling me you know our babies have poisons in their systems and you are lolly-gagging! Get real ... at what point is this considered a critical moment? My husband was having a very difficult time getting me to control my emotions and not simply lose it. I was not acting un-Christlike but I was angry ... I was aggravated ... I was emotional ... I was watching and feeling these dogs dying and here was this young vet tech acting like we brought them in for a common cold. Enough was enough! We demanded that something be done ... and it needed to be done an hour ago. My husband told her he needed to see the ‘vet’ immediately and our dogs needed to have treatment started NOW!!! She left the room.
Believe this or not, but she returned about 30 minutes later ... and are you ready for this ... with a stack of papers in her hands. She walks over to the table and commences telling us about the plan of treatment and the costs per dog. Pause here for a second ... anyone in their right mind knows that when a person or animal has been poisoned, the first two hours are critical. You have to get the toxins flushed out of their bodies as quickly as possible. We were entering our second hour at this point, and she was wanting to discuss our bill. I did not have to lose it because my husband did. He could not take it any longer. Well to make a long story short, 3 - 3 1/2 hours later as we were preparing to leave our babies in their care ... care we were questioning considerably ... we had yet to see or talk with a vet. What options did we have? Our babies needed care and this was all that was available to us at the time. We left the hospital feeling very defeated.
By this time, my sense of calm had kicked in because I knew I had to be strong for my husband. He was suffering with fear, fatigue, unasnwered questions, confusion, and now anger. He needed me to be the logical one and the calming voice at this point. I was. I simply said to him, “We have to do what is best for the dogs right now. Let’s get them well, and then we can deal with all the other issues that are creeping up around us”. So many questions ... how did our dogs get toxins in their body ... why only some of them and not all of them ... were they going to live ... were they going to get the treatment they needed ... what sort of people did we leave our babies’ lives in the hands of? All of this was going through our heads and we had no answers.
We were driving towards home, neither saying a whole lot, but I was praying. Praying fervently as I had been doing throughout this whole ordeal. Then, my son called to advise us we had another dog down. It was now approaching midnight, and it was starting all over again. What do we do now? How do we treat the dog at home? Do we give up and admit defeat? All of these thoughts were going through my mind, and I am sure my husband was thinking similar thoughts also.
We travelled on a bit more in solitude. What was there to say? We were tired and emotionally worn out. The quiet was a welcoming atmosphere at this point. Then ... and very startling ... my husband spoke. When he did, it was a flat monotone, somewhat more uplifting than it had been, but flat nonetheless. Not so much flat as unemotional. He said, “Baby, we serve an awesome God and I know God is working on healing my dogs. I have been praying over this since the start, and I know that I know God is hearing me. God knows how much these dogs mean to me and how they are such a big part of my daily life. His Word says He hears our petitions when they come from the heart. We should walk in faith knowing He is at work and so it is. I do not know what we will have to go through until we reach the end of this journey, but ultimately we will win. God is not going to allow the devil to defeat us”. Just as quickly as he began to speak, he stopped and continued to drive. He retrieved back to his thoughts, and I was fighting holding back the tears. I felt so helpless and sorry for my husband. He was suffering in a big way. I could not speak or respond to him because I knew if I did the tears would start and they would not stop. He did not need to see that now, but he needed to know I heard him and I believed in what he shared. I reached across the truck seat and simply wrapped my hand around his. He squeezed my hand and we drove on in silence.
We finally got home. My husband immediately went to the computer to research what he could do for our baby at home who was now suffering. We had a total of 5 dogs down and 4 left. Our vet said the most important thing was to get our dog to vomit and empty its stomach contents. We would accomplish this by getting peroxide down their throats. Secondly, we had to mix milk with egg whites and feed it to him by a syringe through the mouth, a little at a time. My husband got into motion and did what he knew he had to do. I mixed the concoction while he took the peroxide down to the pen to make the dog vomit. He finally returned and took the mixture and left. I do not know how long my husband was down there, but I finally fell asleep from exhaustion. When I woke only two hours later, my husband was still at the pens. Knowing I had to work, I retrieved to bed to get another 2 hours sleep if possible. My work clothes I had on were ruined. I smelled like dog, and I had to take a bath. All I wanted to do was drop into the bed and sleep.
I got up for work at 6:00 a.m., and I found my husband on the computer doing research. He had not been to bed at all. He had to find out what was going on ... I would say he was obsessed by this time with all the unknowns surrounding us. Our baby had made it through the night and had improved a bit. Not much, but a little. Any improvement was a relief to us. As far as we knew, the four that were in the hospital were still fighting as we had not heard anything all night. I got ready for work, and he got ready to head back to the hospital.
By this point, you do not even want to know how much we had invested financially in this ordeal. Suffice it to say, it was in the four digits. Money just was not relevant at this time, but you could not help but ponder on it. We are far from rich, and this was going to set us back. However, we had to focus on getting our babies home and put in place a treatment regime for the days ahead.
I spoke with my husband via telephone over the course of the morning, and I so wish I could have been with him. He had been at the vet hospital for over 2 hours ... he was not getting anywhere with anyone ... and as of yet, we still had not seen the presence of a vet. He finally told them to get his dogs, give him all medical records showing what they had done, and he wanted to get as far away from that place as he could. After he had loaded up the dogs and retrieved all the paperwork he needed, he turned to the vet tech and said, “Now what? What do I do to keep these dogs alive? What do I feed them to help them retain what little strength they have? What is the plan?” The vet tech looked at him and shrugged his shoulders as he replied, “I do not know!” My husband said he looked at the receptionist with this astonished and blank look on his face, and she said, “I am so sorry.” He left!
He called our regular vet to bring him up to speed. Our vet said, “You cannot just take them dogs home and hope for the best. Come by and pick up some charcoal. When you get here I will have a plan layed out for you.” He did, and by doing so, he gave my husband some hope to hold on to. My husband was not losing faith by any means, but he had been beaten down. He was tired ... he was trying desperately to hold his emotions in check ... he was frustrated ... he was discouraged ... he was scared. Mix all of these things together and you have one overwhelmed individual. On top of this, I am sure he felt as if his brain was fried.
We have the babies home. We are giving them charcoal treatments twice a day. We are pumping into their systems the best of food. But most importantly, we are loving them. Most of the 5 of them are 60% better, but one is still a bit on the downside which concerns us greatly. We walk in faith knowing God is in control.
Looking back over all of this, we racked our brains trying to figure out what these 5 dogs had in common ... what was the common denominator which separated them from the other 4 dogs? Our other babies were healthy as they could be, and they were never effected by any of this. How?
We finally realized that chicken was the common denominator. My husband had stopped that morning and gotten the dogs some chicken. Because he hunts them so much right now, he gives them extra protein to keep them healthy and strong. They run hard when he has them out, and he needs to know they are getting all the nutrients back into their bodies that they need. It was the chicken which had not been fed to the other 4 dogs. It was the only thing which separated the sick ones from the healthy ones.
My husband has been in touch with the health department. He is following up with issues we had with the vet, especially the discrepancies with our estimate (which we paid in full) and the actual medical records we got showing the course of treatment while they were in the hospital. They do not line up by a far shot. God has been good and faithful as my husband and I knew he would be. Our babies are not out of the woods yet, but it is looking better and better. Nothing miraculous or anything, but definitely hopeful.
Again, we thank you for your prayers. They were much needed and definitely heard. It is so reassuring to know you have Sisters and Brothers in Christ that you can turn to during times as this. I knew there were some on my FB page who would faithfully pray, and for you I am so thankful.