I was recently talking to my friend Katie who I hadn’t talked to in forever. Don’t you hate when that happens? Life just gets in the way! Anyways, at one point I was updating her about Belle and how she’s been doing. I realized that a lot has gone on with her in the past month so I thought I’d share it with you guys.
On the day we started painting the paneling (the same day we picked up Heidi from BARK!), Belle was sleeping a ton. The dogs usually nap a good amount so I didn’t think much of it until I picked her up and noticed that it looked like she had a giant adam’s apple! It appeared that her lymph node was super swollen. I panicked.
I dropped everything and told Al that we had to take her to the doggy ER.
The ER vet told us that it could be many things but that it was most likely an infection from her horrible and I mean horrible teeth. Her former owners had neglected her teeth over the years so most of them were covered in thick plaque.
He wanted to do a fine needle aspirate (look at the cells) of the lymph node to confirm this suspicion and rule out cancer but with the pricing I decided to wait until the next day and go to the vet that I work at. They know her better there and it’d be cheaper! So the ER vet put her on antibiotics and painkillers to start.
Monday, the vet that I work at agreed that it was probably an infection but he wanted to be sure so he gave me a second antibiotic to give her. If the swollen lymph node didn’t decrease in size over the next week then it was more likely to be cancer. Ugh.
After only a couple days, the size was smaller. Thank goodness! So we set up her dental for the following week to clean the teeth and pull out any rotten/infected ones.
I was glad we’d be able to get out all those bad teeth but also VERY concerned because she has a severe heart murmur. Putting a very old dog under anesthesia is risky and with a heart murmur on top of that? Scary.
I was working the day she got her dental. The vet tech asked me if I wanted to oversee the procedure. I hesitated because I hadn’t done too many dentals yet (since I’ve only had this job since February) and didn’t feel prepared but I also wanted to be right there with her just in case. I said I’d do it.
The vet and vet tech talked about their approach. They brought over extra drugs and needles to the dental table to help her just in case her heart had trouble. The vet said he was going to take out as many bad teeth as he could. He would go for the worst ones first and then if Belle was still doing okay, he’d get the others.
At about 40 minutes into the procedure with one and a half teeth left to pull, Belle decided that she’d had enough. In what felt like seconds, her heartbeat jumped and her breathing went from about 6 breaths per minute to SIXTY. I started getting nervous but stayed focus – letting the doctor know her vitals and recording the data. He said that he’d finish the tooth he was on and leave the last one that wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t worth the risk.
With sweaty palms I stared at her chest moving rapidly as he extracted the tooth. The vet tech flew in and took her off anesthesia.
It took her a bit to wake up but she did. She looked pathetic yet alive. I said, “This isn’t your best look Belle!”. Comedy soothes all don’t you know.
We kept her on pain medicine and antibiotics in the days after the dental. The lymph node continued to shrink and by the end of the week she was perfectly fine.
Al and I have seen a mind-blowing change in Belle in these weeks since her dental. She has only cried/screamed ONCE since the procedure. This is a huge change. She used to keep us up at night and cried during the day when we were gone. I think it was partly because she was kept in a crate but also because she was just so darn uncomfortable with all that pain in her mouth all the time.
With the crying gone there’s more to see in her. She wags her tail a lot more (she rarely did before), she gets visibly excited (this never ever happened) and so she seems happier overall. This lady actually has a personality! And all she needed was a visit to the dentist.
We’ve even recently taken her off of her old lady pills that are supposed to help with being senile. She hasn’t resumed any pacing or restlessness. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
With all this drama that we had to go through with Belle, we now feel attached to her. I asked Al if we were going to post her online to find her a home still and he said, “No, I kinda want to keep her.”. I was shocked. This man couldn’t stand her in the beginning. This is understandable because the screaming was terrible (!) and he wasn’t keen on tiny dogs to begin with (neither was I) but a complete 180 is very impressive.
She’s still a crabby old lady but we like her. 🙂 We now have 2.5 dogs (.5 being Belle). No more, no less. It’s nice to be a healthy, happy family.
I think the point of this super long story is, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. We never thought we’d have a tiny dog in the mix but we’re sure glad we do now. We’ve learned about love, patience, and open-mindedness. All that from 8 pounds of fur.