Archive for April, 2021

Rocky Homecoming (with an update)

April 20th, 2021 No comments

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May 8, 2021

This handsome dude Rocky has recuperated beautifully.  His amazing personality is coming back.  His first 10 days or so back home, he was on a ton of medication, including anti anxiety drugs.  He wasn’t himself, but he was certainly aware and secure in his home and back with his humans.  Every day, his legs got stronger and he walked more steadily. His appetite has improved and with some enticing (chicken and raw carrots) he is eating well.   About 9 days post op, he had a day of vomiting.  He was coming off some of his medication.  The emergency vet in Brewer, ME examined him and said he looked good and he gave him an anti emetic shot.  That was the end of the vomiting, and he came off all meds.  His interest in his surroundings grew, and a few days ago, he found his favorite squeaky ball and brought it to Brian. Last night, he visited us in our home for the first time since his surgery. We have been visiting him on his turf before this.  Because he is doing so well, it is tempting to let him play and jump and run around, but he is still in his 4 weeks of recovery and mostly “bed rest”.  He spends most of his day in his little doggie rehab bed, except to go outside for potty breaks.  Very soon, Brian can set Rocky loose on the world and throw a ball for him to fetch.  He will be able to go outside in our back yard when he visits, and give Stanley a run for his money.  This is all good news and all of us are thrilled with his recovery.


April 20, 2021

So the little pickle head Rocky is coming home today.  Rocky has spent some grueling hours away from his human Brian and suffering through pain, paralysis, incontinence, lonliness, and anxiety, but he will prevail!  He is my new hero. Brian has set up a little Rocky rehab in his apartment, and he got him a nice new harness with a back handle on it.

My previous blog described what he went through on Friday April 16.  Since then I have spoken with a representative of the Maine Veterinary Medical Center.  I struggled to stay civil, but I did.  She explained that

1. there was a dog even worse off than Rocky that day that they had to tend to first, and

2. an employee called in and had tested positive for COVID just before they threw Brian and Rocky out.

She further explained that the pre MRI and surgery work up takes 2.5 to 3 hours, and I asked about the waiting around for an additional 3 hours and she went on to explain about the sicker dog.  I asked why if it was going to be that long they didn’t send Rocky to Boston earlier.  She failed to explain that  to me adequately.

My opinion is this.  Everything that they did to and for Rocky was to prep him for an MRI and surgery, that they never performed.  Then to top it off (that Rocky and his serious issues were at the bottom of the triage heap), someone called from home with a positive COVID test.  The person was not in the clinic.  There is no risk to animals for COVID.  The neruo team who was going to do procedures on Rocky was at no more risk at 2pm than they were at 8am …while they worked together on a different  sicker dog.  But, they made an administrative choice to shut down the neuro team and procedures at 2pm.  I hope they all enjoyed their weekend.

Then without medicating Rocky, they put him in Brian’s car and sent them on their way to Boston.  Rocky thrashed and struggled against the cone and the IV for the whole trip.  She claimed that medicating a neuro dog is a two edged sword, and can interfere with an up coming neuro exam.  Anxiety and thrashing around in the throes of new paralysis and incontinence because of a bulging disc can also cause problems.  It was inhumane to do that to him.

Today, after excellent care at the Angell Veternary Hospital in Boston, Rocky will come home.  He is walking, but he still has left leg weakness.  It should resolve once the swelling and bruising from the disc issue and surgery are healed.  He will need help with a few things and will have to lay low for about a month.

In a month, I hope to see that bouncy big brute run into my house and scan for changes.  After giving him a good rub and scratching,  I want to give him a special treat of boiled chicken, that I suppose he will have to share with his little buddy Stanley.  Stanley will be coached prior to Rocky’s first visit to take it easy on him and to share his favorite prickly ball.  It is the favorite toy of all the dogs in our lives.  Good times are coming.

I will credit MVMC for refunding all of their charges aside from diagnostics like blood work and xrays, and “portables”, like that pesky IV catheter in his front leg.  So, there was a reasonable refund to the account. I am ok with that since the labs and xrays would have been done at the Boston clinic prior to surgery in any case.

Thank you to all the great friends and contacts who have followed this sad and frustrating saga of Rocky’s troubles. Every one of you knows the love of a dog and how important they are in our lives.


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May DOGS be with you

April 18th, 2021 No comments

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L to R Stanley, Leroy, Rocky

Lady, Moxie, Brady, Tanya, Puggy, Rico, Willow, Louie, Rocky, Stanley and Leroy….all dogs in my life.  My life would have been much emptier and lonelier without all of them.  I loved them all, differently and for varied lengths of time.  But no question, they have been an essential and beloved part of my life.  They never failed me, never envied or resented me, never stopped being loyal and loving. Dogs are much better than hooomans that way.

I know a lot of people who do not have dogs, and I feel a little sorry for them.  I don’t think they understand what they are missing out on.  Dogs instinctively know which people are good, and which ones are dog lovers.  I totally understand why some people don’t have dogs.  Their living space, their jobs, their own moving about, and their circumstances just don’t allow it.  Of course some people can’t or shouldn’t have dogs.  But some people just don’t like them.  Now those people are really hard to understand.  It is best that people who do not love dogs don’t get them.  Dogs are better off without them.

I have loved dogs since I was a little kid.  I love their faces, their eyes, their licks, their constant and reliable love. their comedy, their barks and howls and their zest for all things in life like food, play and fun.  The loyalty of a dog can’t be matched.  The trust, and the affection can’t be overstated.  Our current 7 pound Shih Tsu notwithstanding.   Stanley is a silky, cuddly, and very needy slutty little guy, wanting to be held, rubbed, scratched, and played with.  We love it, and him.  He has been with us for 3 great years now and I can’t imagine our home without him….eye boogers, messy hair and all.

Our love for dogs has been passed on to our kids.

Leroy is my son Andrew’s dog. Now he is a bit of a challenge. All of us have called him an a^^ho^e a few times.   He likes to use his teeth. But, he looks at me with his adoring eyes, imploring me to stroke and pet him and hold him.  When he comes to my home to visit, he immediately climbs into my lap and looks at me with his big black eyes waiting for affection.  He loves us and he is lovable, even with his quirks.  He is a work in progress.

Rocky is one of my all time favorites.  He is my son Brian’s French Bulldog.  I remember 5 years ago when he brought him to meet us the first time, and the tiny black guy with the huge ears ran into my living room SIDEWAYS.  He had been flown from FL to Portland ME where Brian picked him up.  He arrived here full of energy and bounce.  He took to our old dog Louie like a magnet, although Louie wasn’t thrilled with this bouncy energetic new arrival.  He was a hyper and nervous little guy, but very lovable.  We puppysat him several times overnight and he kept Mike up most of the those nights.  He attached himself to Brian and staying anywhere different was hard for the pup.  But, he loves us, and as he has matured, he knows us and our house…and he can detect ANY change in our home (sounds, sights, smells) with a 2 second scan when he comes to visit. He is smart and well mannered.  When Stanley came into our home after Louie’s demise, Rocky was patient and sweet.  Stan took a few chunks out of Rocky and he still played with him gently. Stanley is the dominatrix now, and controls all things, like toys and food, around his friend Rocky.

Rocky started having weird pain a few weeks ago.  If he barked or moved suddenly, he would cry out.  His regular vet suspected something in his spine, early last week,  and gave anti-inflammatory and pain medications. He warned that if he had a sudden difficulty using his legs (paralysis) or incontinence, that it was an emergency and he would need to see the dog neurologist. The closest one is 120 miles away near Portland ME.  Well, the worst happened this past Friday.  He jumped down off Brian’s bed and then he couldn’t use his front legs, and he was very wobbly.  At 530am on April 16, Brian set out to Scarborough, ME to see a neuro doctor on an emergency basis.  He arrived at 8am.  Rocky was processed and examined.   He had peed in his crate, so that incontinence was new, and he couldn’t use any of his legs by then.  The plan was that they would do the MRI as soon as the specialist was available “but he sees other animals by appointment.  We will try to squeeze him in between appointments. It might be after noontime before we can do the MRI and if needed, surgery”.  Brian was impatient but did what he thought he had to do and waited, and waited and waited.  He waited SIX hours for this so called “emergency” clinic to do what was verbally contracted.  He gave them a credit card to seal the deal and they took a deposit for 50% of estimated cost, which was $5000.  They never did what was verbally and financially contracted.

My experience as a retired ER triage nurse is that emergency cases precede non emergency cases.  Sudden onset paralysis and incontinence is very much an emergency.

Rocky got an IV, blood work and an xray.  Beyond that I don’t know what they did. Rocky is by nature a very anxious dog.  He hates riding in the car and he hates confinement.   He would have been better off staying with his beloved owner in the car.  It was a crappy spring day with rain and snow and cold.  Brian sat it his car except for bathroom breaks and a quick trip to McDonalds waiting for his best friend to be taken care of.  His clothes were all wet and damp for most of the day.   He also reserved a room at a nearby hotel because the weather was worsening.  It was a long agonizing wait. The hotel told him he could check in at 130, so he did go over there to do so. When he got there, they said it would be 2pm before he could check in, so the call came while he waited in yet another parking lot in the cold rain and snow.  The call came from the vet clinic while he waited there.

At 2pm, the clinic  staff called him and said that “the neuro team has been put under quarantine. Rocky has to go to Boston to be taken care of.”  Although I have seen the notice on the clinic’s webpage, I still think that the timing of this quarantine is suspect…mid afternoon on a Friday.  What had they done all morning long?  Did they do procedures on non emergent cases or see non emergent cases while my son sat in his freezing car (because of COVID precautions) and while Rocky was confined to a cage with new onset paralysis and incontinence?  I want to know.

Would taking care of Rocky have increased the COVID risk to the staff of that  so called emergency clinic? The notice below appeared after I posted my quarantine questions TWICE on the Maine Veterinary Medical Center Facebook page and both times they were removed.  I also messaged them and did not get a response to my questions.

After that clinic robbed Brian of $1300 and replaced the rest of the $5000 deposit, they delivered Rocky to his car.  His crate had pee in it, so he placed Rocky on the backseat floor on some pee pads.  He had a cone around his neck because of the IV catheter in his fore paw.  He couldn’t use his legs, but he flopped around and hyperventilated for over 2 hours on that back floor on the way from Scarborough to the Boston Angell Veterinary Hospital in Boston.

He was struggling against the IV and cone, and had not been sufficiently medicated in advance of this transfer.  When I checked on Brian with a phone call, I could hear Rocky’s raspy hyperventilation in the back ground.  It broke my heart in two.  And it pissed me off.  Why did they do this to Rocky and Brian?

May be an image of dog

Rocky in the back seat of Brian’s car.

The most important part of this story is that Rocky is finally taken care of at the Boston clinic.  After about 6 hours of nasty travel, and 6 hours of waiting, Rocky was finally where he needed to be in the first place.  He had an MRI yesterday morning that exposed a bulging disc in his neck. That was compressing his nerves and causing his symptoms.  Frenchies are apparently notorious for this injury.  His surgery was done immediately, and he is recovering in Boston.  As soon as he can stand, walk and pee, he can come home.  The report from the doctor this morning indicates that he may be coming home tomorrow.  Brian came home yesterday after spending Friday night in Boston.  He was too exhausted to come home on Friday night.

Oh, a little more icing on the disaster cake, the hotel in Scarborough ME is refusing to refund money for that reservation, that was never used.

Brian didn’t have the fight in him to deal with any of this injustice. He was focused on his boy.  But I have the fight in me.  I am in contact with a “vet tech practice manager of the Maine Veterinary Medical Center”.  She used all of her credentialing initials behind her name and her title in her email to impress me I suppose.  She offered an appointment to talk with me on the phone ….suggesting two times  tomorrow.  I was too pissed to wait. I want it all in writing anyway. It is very important to document these issues… Brian, to me, and to anyone who might want to engage them to care for their pets.  I hope they learn something from what I plan to do.

My goals are these

1. Rocky will be home, with his best friend Brian, in a comfortable secure warm safe setting.  Brian is going to set up our portable play pen with padding on the floor and his comfy bed, so he can’t be too active for a month or so.  He will go out to pee and poop and be fed, loved, and pampered the rest of the time.  Thank goodness Brian works at home.

2. I will get a full detailed explanation from the clinic in Scarborough, ME for why Rocky was put at the bottom of the heap for care on Friday morning.  I will also get full reimbursement for what they charged the credit card.  Their “care” ended up doing more harm than good.  It caused great anxiety and panic in Rocky and it delayed the care and treatment that he needed right away.  They failed to honor their verbal contract with Brian.  The photo of Rocky above is clearly proof of that. I also hope they learn from this huge mistake and that their future clients are better cared for.

3. If the Maine clinic is not cooperative with my goals, I will write a full report to the Maine veterinary licensing board, and perhaps call the media about this disaster.  And it was a real disaster.  I will give an honest and accurate detailed report about this incident.  It was cruel,dismissive and harmful treatment of my son and his dog.  I understand COVID restrictions and precautions. I am an RN (I have initials and credentials too),a certified contact tracer and a retired ER nurse.  I understand proper triage.  I also understand COVID contact tracing and quarantine advisement.  But I still find a SIX hour wait for emergency diagnostics and care/surgery because of sudden onset paralysis and incontinence unacceptable.  The timing of that quarantine is suspect at the very least.

Today we wait on a progress report about Rocky.  Stanly, Leroy, and the humans around me are all worried and keeping him in our hearts and sending best wishes for a speedy and uncomplicated recovery.