Sunday night (April 2015), I learned just how tough our little ball of canine fluff is. Paz — all seven pounds of her — survived an attack by a pit bull.
I won’t go into details of the attack or the aftermath. The short version is that it took us an hour to reach the nearest vet open on a Sunday evening, the Emergency Veterinary Clinic in Ft. Myers. They got her stabilized and operated late at night to repair the damage. She stayed in ICU overnight, then was discharged to us very early the next morning (as an emergency clinic, they are only open overnight; animals in need of further care are transported to other facilities).
With a four-inch wound in Paz’s neck and chest (her trachea was ruptured and surgically repaired, along with the muscle damage, skin tear and other injuries), we could not return to living on an unairconditioned boat in a dusty work yard.
The Port La Belle Inn (the nearest hotel/motel to the boat yard and really a resort/conference center) could not have been more helpful — they don’t normally allow dogs but were sympathetic to our plight. They even let me go to the room before Dave checked in!
Paz has a lot of recovery yet to do, but she’s proving to be one tough cookie. She survived the attack, the long trip to the veterinary hospital and the surgery. And now she’s doing well with her recovery.
Dave and I have always teasingly called her “the fierce and mighty” for the play growl noises she makes (she’s never growled in earnest; I think she doesn’t realize that a growl is anything other than a play noise). The past couple of days, she has proven that she is, indeed, fierce and mighty with a very strong will to survive.
Like anyone recovering from major trauma, Paz is sleeping most of the day and, at the same time, requires a lot of care. One of us has to be with her all the time.
Here’s the good news:
- While we still have to hand feed her the “critical care” high calorie, low waste food that the doctor prescribed, Paz is eating the recommended amount. She lost several teeth and had other injuries to her mouth, so this is really good news as she needs food and energy to heal.
- She’s drinking plenty of water and as of last night, lapping it from a small bowl.
- When we carry her outside for “business trips,” Paz tries to walk a bit, anywhere from 2 to 20 feet. When a hotel employee approached her, she even wagged her tail. Only a tiny bit, but it was a wag!
- She’s starting to walk just a bit around the motel room, too.
- Paz seems to be in much less pain, although she’s still on pain meds and will be for another week or so.
- When she’s not asleep, she’s alert — watching us or looking out the window.
- Paz has always been a “licky” dog and has just started giving me a lick or two as I’m carrying her outside. It’s truly heartening to see her returning to her “normal” behavior.
We still have to be careful to avoid infection (she’s on antibiotics) and not overtire or stress her but we’re optimistic about her complete recovery with time. (Note: if you wonder why you don’t see a big wound in the photo above or the one at the top of this post, I’ve deliberately chosen ones where it’s pretty much hidden.)
Since the incident, I haven’t posted on The Boat Galley, Facebook or Instagram. I haven’t replied to email or other messages. I’ve pretty much neglected everything. The next couple of weeks look to be a little rocky, too — I’ll post when I can and try to get caught up on correspondence.
And I have to give huge thanks to:
- The Emergency Veterinary Clinic in Ft. Myers. I hope you never need their services, but they were fantastic — even loaning me a charger for my smart phone so that we could go to the motel next door while Paz was in surgery and know we wouldn’t miss a call.
- The Port LaBelle Inn. If you need a motel while in LaBelle, I definitely recommend them (not cheap, but not outrageous for the area and room amenities). We have stayed at another local motel that was slightly cheaper and not nearly as nice — and which no longer allows dogs since a change in ownership.
- Google and Google Maps. Literally, these probably saved Paz’s life. The local vets in LaBelle were all closed on Sunday night, the number that all their answering machines gave me to call “in an emergency” was no longer in service. Dave just started driving towards Ft. Myers with me on the smartphone. Google gave me the info I needed with a phone number I could click with one hand as the other held Paz. Google Maps got us there the fastest way possible — when we didn’t even know the roads in the city. Again, with one click on “Directions.”
And also to our new friends (and long-time TBG readers) Terry and Jenn Pierson, who we’d had a beer with just before the incident. We’d exchanged boat cards and I’d happened to stick theirs in my pocket. Around 11 that night, I realized that we’d left our boat wide open . . . and Terry’s was the only phone number I had. I called him (probably woke him up) and somehow didn’t even explain where we were or what had happened, but just asked if they could close up our boat as we were going to be gone all night. With perfect cruiser helpfulness, they did. Thanks, guys!
UPDATE: Tuesday, May 5 — I posted this little video clip on The Boat Galley’s Facebook page last night. She did two little runs and is now trying to bark, although it’s just a squeak at this point. Late yesterday night, she also ate out of her bowl (no hand feeding) for the first time, although she’s still eating the special “critical care” food to get enough calories to support the healing.
Continuing to improve – running and playing (only two short runs) and trying to bark although it’s more of a high-pitched squeak! #onetoughcookie
Posted by The Boat Galley on Monday, May 4, 2015