Monday was a beautiful day. I let the dogs spend the day outside. They were thrilled to get out into the fresh air and lounge in the lawn. They just lie there and watch the neighborhood.
Monday evening Mark went to bring the dogs in and feed them and when he came upstairs he announced that Ellie was limping pretty badly. After they finished eating and came upstairs I watched her walk and Mark did not describe her limping well enough. She was barely putting weight on it. She’s very active so I was certain she had just come down on it wrong. God knows I’ve rolled my ankles enough by coming down on my foot wrong. So I really didn’t worry about it too much. She didn’t eat her dinner. I chalked it up to her being too sore standing on her legs to bother eating.
Tuesday morning I went to take them out and first thing in the morning, aren’t we all a little stiff? So it didn’t seem out of the ordinary that she wasn’t putting weight on her foot. I made her stay inside while I was at work instead of letting her be in the yard because she’s more likely to stay off her leg in the house than she is in the yard.
Tuesday evening came with no change. I started thinking back to my last rolled ankle and it didn’t feel out of the ordinary that she was still quite sore. She wouldn’t eat again.
Wednesday morning I went to let them out and there was pee on the bar floor. She did not bother (or couldn’t) to get up off her doggy bed. They have had accidents before, but it has always been next to the door, like they were trying to get out, but I didn’t get downstairs in enough time. NEVER have either of them peed while lying on their bed. I tried to coax her up but she wanted nothing to do with it. I lifter her up off the bed and she hobbled outside to pee and pooh. I cleaned up the pee while she was out taking care of business and then brought her back in and helped her get settled in on her bed.
I called the vet while I was at work to get an appointment but he couldn’t fit her in until Thursday morning.
Wednesday evening I got home from work and she was in the exact same position that I she was when I left earlier in the day. I knew this couldn’t be good. I had to help her off the bed and outside so she could pee. She came back into the house putting no pressure at all on her foot. It just dragged on the ground as she tried to maneuver on three legs. Very slowly we made our way to the staircase. She had been able to go up the stairs the previous days in a slow, painstaking manner, but this day her back feet kept slipping. I ended up carrying her up the stairs. It took her forever to get into the “down” position because she normally uses her front legs to lie down. This is where she stayed.
Even when Smokey started tormenting her tail she just lay there. I brought her food and she wouldn’t eat it. I brought her water and she wouldn’t drink it. I thought I’d give her a little ibuprofen to help with the pain. I put the tablet in a little peanut butter and she ate it right down. I sat on the floor with her and dipped my hand in the water and then rubbed it on her gums. She’d lick her lips. I knew she was thirsty but just couldn’t be bothered to drink anything. At this point I was starting to feel a little concerned because this was going well beyond a sprained ankle. About 8pm she sprawled out like this:
And this is where she stayed.
She wouldn’t raise her head. She wouldn’t wag her tail. She wouldn’t respond to my voice. She just lay there like a dead dog. I sat next to her and played with her ears and stroked her side and talked to her and got no response. I felt along her whole body – legs, chest, back, ears, tail – trying to find some indication of what her problem was. I was strongly thinking that something must have bit her and that this wasn’t a sprained ankle. I could find no sign of a bite. No ticks. Not swelling. No puncture wounds. Just nothing! NOTHING! It was all so frustrating because there was nothing to say that she should be deteriorating so quickly. Then I put my hand under her arm pit and there was mass. About four inches in diameter. I could move the lump side to side. Well, that’s comforting!
When it came time for bed I took Jake out to the back yard and went back up to try and coax Ellie to get up off the floor so I could take her downstairs. She wouldn’t react to me. She wouldn’t acknowledge that I was there. She wouldn’t get up. Mark came into the living room to find me sitting on the floor with her. He asked what I wanted to do with her. Earlier in the evening when I tried helping her move she yelped out in pain so I didn’t want to physically move her downstairs. I told him I was just going to leave her there and let her sleep in the living room. He asked, “What if she pees?” Well, then I clean it up. All the floors are hardwoods, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to get rid of the area rug. I was so completely unconcerned about whether or not she peed or poohed on my floor. I was concerned about whether she’d be alive in the morning when I woke up.
I sat with her and pet her for a little while longer and then went to bed.
In the dark of night, lying in the stillness of the house, my mind goes everywhere. What was happening to my dog? Maybe the ibuprofen I gave her was the wrong thing. What if she dies in the night because I gave her ibuprofen? How would I tell the kids that I killed the dog? You know…the normal things that run through your head when you’re trying to go to sleep and things aren’t exactly right.
After an hour of this I got out of bed and headed to the living room. She was still in the same position. Still looked dead. I bent over and put my hand on her chest to see if she was breathing. She was. I got a drink of water and headed back to bed. More questions. More running over the sequence of events. More tears. More what ifs.
After an hour of this I got out of bed and headed to the living room. She was still in the same position. Still looked dead. I sat down next to her and put a hand on her chest. My mind is spinning so fast I can’t tell if I feel her chest move or not. I move my hand to a different position. And wait. There’s the breath. I realize that I had been holding my breath. I let out a deep sigh and headed back to bed.
My night continued like this. Every hour, out of bed and into the living room. Every hour, the same results. The last time I looked at the clock was 4am. Exhaustion took over and I fell asleep with the certainty that Ellie would be gone in the morning. There were no dreams. There was no rest. Just sleep.
I woke abruptly at 6:28am. Two minutes before my alarm went off. I sat bolt upright in bed feeling guilty that I had fallen asleep and didn’t check on Ellie. I heard a tick, tick, tick on the floor and flew out of bed and into the living room. Ellie was standing up by the front door. She hobbled out and went pee. I made sure she saw where the water was when I brought her back in the house. As I was getting in the shower I heard her started drinking some water.
The vet checked her out. Said the lump was nothing to worry about. If it were attached solidly to something it would be a different story, but most likely nothing to worry about. He said she had just sprained her ankle and gave me some anti infammatories. He told me everything that I already knew. Well, that I already knew in the light of day. It’s the damned scary night when things are too quiet for my active brain. Everything is better in the light of the day.