Another Saturday at The Family Vet

Saturday February 18th had already been shaping up to be a busy day, as we had a solidly booked schedule. Additionally Dr. Tran already had her hands full - for the past two weeks she has been living in 4 hour shifts, nursing a tiny puppy only a few days old. If you've ever cared for day-old orphan puppies you're familiar with the procedure: stop whatever you're doing every 4 hours and make sure the puppies are sufficiently fed, stimulated for defecation and urination and finally get cleaned up and re-situated in clean, warm and comfortable bedding. So, when you're asleep in the middle of the night and the four hours are up, you get up; when you go to a restaurant for a Saturday night dinner and the four hours are up, you stop your meal, and take the puppy out so she can have hers first. It's an exhausting, demanding responsibility.

Compounding this, late morning we received a call from a client: her puppy (a cute 3-month old Mini-Schnauzer mix named "Hoover") had vomited and was now lethargic, just laying around and not moving. Wisely, the owner followed our instructions and brought the Hoover in for us to observe him.

Just a few minutes after that, (and still in the middle of our full schedule) another client came in with a pit bull puppy she had just found roaming the streets. The puppy was in terrible shape: he had a gash in his ear, and was soiled in urine and feces. Most concerning of all he had some discharge and redness from his right eye and the right side of his face was swollen. Despite the mess he was in and the obvious lack of care he had received the puppy was happy and in good spirits, wagging his tail and eagerly seeking out my hand for a few strokes of affection. It was a reassuring yet heart breaking scene all at once. In addition, the puppy had already caught a lucky break, as the client had decided to keep him. Because we were already so over-capacity and because she had decided to adopt him,  I offered, and the client agreed, to let us keep the "Pit" overnight, so that we could address his health issues the next day.

When Hoover came in I immediately commended the client for bringing him in. Although he had only vomited once, he was clearly in bad shape: he was alert but very lethargic. Small breed puppies that are weakened can be slow to eat and become even dangerously weaker still, potentially developing a condition called hypoglycemia that can lead to seizures.  The client offered her hypothesis of what could've gone wrong: this morning she had given him 2 small pieces of carrot for the first time. Dr. Tran treated Hoover for hypoglycemia and gastroenteritis, and throughout the afternoon he made slow but steady improvement.

By now, late in the day and long after our closing hours, (and right after the orphan puppy's third feeding), we had a chance to speak with Pit's new "owner." Although we hadn't noticed it while he was here, she casually mentioned to us that he was scratching at his right eye; she thought that's what had caused his eye to be red. Dr. Tran decided to examine him after-hours instead of waiting for the next day. She wanted to make sure the apparent eye discomfort was not due to something in his eye.  If we didn't find a foreign body, (in simpler terms, "something stuck in his eye"), we would, at least, place an e-collar on him to keep him from doing further damage to his eye.  What she found shocked her and the weary staff.... (to be continued....)