For those following the saga of our dogs, we have unbelievably fantastic news that I am very belatedly passing on (sorry about that). On Tuesday, March 12, Elly was allowed to come home with us! Her breathing rate is still elevated, and she may have lifelong respiratory issues, but she is now at home, happy and extra love-y. I feel like it’s only right give Elly her due in a little biography.
Never far from her dad’s side. Photo credit: John Weller.
I adopted Elly from the Humane Society in 2007. I wanted a second dog for a lot of reasons. First, I believed Nyla should be a part of a pack. I was working full-time and while I was able to come home at lunch and let her out and give her some love, I felt she needed someone to play with and keep her company. Little did I know the amount she would learn from her little sister (for instance: how to use a doggy door to go outside to pee. It was a revelation!). Second, I wanted the chance to give a dog that needed it a home. As soon as I saw her, I knew she was meant to be my dog. Even though she had a very sad story – she was found tethered to the back of her previous owner’s house starving to death and surrounded by waste – she was still full of pep and cheer and love. When I had begun looking for a second dog, I wanted one that would be a little bigger; I was told that they suspected Elly was in the 20 weeks age range and that she would at least double in size. In fact, she maybe grew by 5%. Maybe. But, as it turns out, she is the perfect size. No one can nail down what breed of dog Elly is. Vets have said she is likely some mix including Rat Terrier and Jack Russel; in Grenada, she is often mistaken for a Pot Hound.
Elly loves to lay her head on Nick’s chest and slowly work her way up to having her face inches from his.
Elly is one of the most loving dogs you will ever come across. She’s never met a stranger, and is always very excited to give kisses to everyone she runs across. In fact, I believe that may be what saved her. It is our suspicion that the Paraquat was thrown in our yard hidden in food – possibly in a bag with the corner snipped. My hunch is that Elly was so excited to greet the visitor she missed the “treat”, while the take-no-prisoners Nyla went straight for it. By the time Elly got to it, it was probably mostly gone.
Even on a hash, Elly is trying to make new best friends.
Elly is quite the active pup. She loves to chase lizards, go to the beach and run through the waves, run the neighborhood, and hash. Even though, just like Nyla, I had Elly before Nick and I ever met, she is a daddy’s girl through and through. Given the choice, Elly will hang out on the couch with a studying Nick over laying in bed with me watching shows – unless I sweeten the pot by turning the A/C on, of course. Elly’s favorite activity is running with Nick on a hash. She comes back panting, muddy, and exhausted, but that little white-tipped tail of hers never stops wagging. She knows what it means when we get her harness and leash down on a Saturday afternoon; once it’s down off of the hook, she does her jumping routine for a few minutes and then tails us around the house until it’s time to go – she doesn’t want there to be any chance of being forgotten.
She’s an intrepid explorer, this one!
Nick began to get nervous midday Friday that Elly’s breathing was unusual. She hadn’t eaten since Wednesday and was being a little mopey, but up until that point, we had assumed that she was just worried about her sister. We decided to take her on a short walk to the beach by our house to see how she would react. The walk was fine, but she wasn’t as peppy as usual. She didn’t want to run up and down the beach as she usually did, and she was lagging as we walked home. Once we were home, we kept an eye on her breathing, which started to sound labored and raspy like Nyla’s had. So Friday evening, we decided to bring Elly in.
Visiting Elly her second day at the clinic. Luckily she was in a crate that would hold us too.
The emergency vet came in, and was very forthcoming about the situation. He said that with a second dog with similar symptoms, Paraquat poisoning was further indicated. He said that they would do everything they could and treat it with antibiotics in case that wasn’t it, but that the outcome did not look great. As Elly was still oxygenating on her own, they were going to leave her off oxygen.
Giving love and affection to Elly.
We left Elly in their caring hands and went home to wait. We visited Saturday, then again Sunday, and again on Monday. On Saturday and Sunday she had to stay in her crate (which was large enough for us to sit in with her), but on Monday they let us take her to an exam room. She was tired, but so happy to be out and get to spend time with us. We both sat on the floor with her and let her crawl all over us. We left the clinic still cautiously hopeful.
The day before we got to take Elly home. Excited to have her out of the crate.
On Tuesday I called to see when we could come visit Elly. I was told noon would be fine. Shorty thereafter, I got a call back from the vet. They were ready to send Elly home! The vet said that although Elly still had a slightly elevated respiration rate she was oxygenating on her own and had been eating and drinking. She said that they weren’t doing anything for her there that we couldn’t do at home. She asked me to give her a few hours to research possible treatment options for Elly’s damaged lungs; since it is so rare for Paraquat poisoning to not be fatal in animals, there isn’t a standard of care for recovery. I called Nick, who had been planning to meet me at the clinic at noon. I told him that we didn’t need to go at noon, because we’d going in at 1:30 to pick her up for good. He started crying with relief. I had held it together until that point, but couldn’t any longer.
As you can tell, she was very excited to get released from “jail”.
While it was incredibly hard going into the clinic with two and leaving with one, I don’t think that we can feel guilty about being so ecstatic to have Elly back at home with us. I can’t imagine what we would have done had we lost both of them. When we took Elly home, she knew something was off. She looked for Nyla in her crate and under the couch. The next morning when I let her out she was so excited to get out the door and look in Nyla’s outside crate (she stuck her whole head in, then ran down into the yard to look). She’s seemed a little sad since then, but I think has figured out that Nyla isn’t coming home.
I’ve always said Elly had wise eyes. Photo Credit: Go Gray Productions
For the first week that we had Elly home she was on an antibiotic, Prednisone, and Ventolin (a liquid form of Albuterol). She’s off of the antibiotic now, and is slowly tapering off of the Prednisone and Ventolin. Nick took her into the vet last week, and other than some “clutter” in her lungs (which they believe is clearing up based on another set of radiographs), they gave her a favorable bill of health. They want to keep her under observation for the next three months, with us calling in any changes and bringing her in occasionally, but they said if she makes it through that time period she should be out of the woods. We’ve been told she’s a miracle pup. No one gets better from this. We are so unbelievably grateful to have her home.
Elly’s favorite place is still right next to her daddy.
The dog that was once living outside is now inside all day, except for supervised bathroom breaks, and is even sleeping in our room. She starts off on the bed, but at some time during the night she moves down to the floor. She still gets excited, but she also tires easily and mostly just wants to cuddle. We took her to the beach the other day, but she just wanted to lay in the shade and relax. Which is fine with us. We took her hashing last weekend (on the walkers trail, of course), and she had a great time. I ended up carrying her about 2.5 miles, but it was well worth it to see that signature Elly smile.
Elly still loves to hash, but has to be carried when she gets tired or the terrain is too taxing. Photo credit: Brian Steele.