Apparently the dogs in our community (including my own!) need a "Porcupine Refresher" since we have had SEVEN dogs with quills in the last week!! So listen up my canine friends - here's the facts:
Oh hi! I didn’t notice you all there…I was just busy lounging at my temporary home, the Blue Moon Pet Resort, dreaming about my days as a younger dog…Ahhh those were the days when I could run like the wind all day long! I’m really hoping I can get back to my daily fitness regime soon – my favourite being the walk-sniff-pee interval training – keeps me svelt to attract the ladies! Walk for ten minutes, sniff for five minutes, pee for two minutes…repeat. It’s my personal favourite! Lately though this hip is making it really hard to lift my leg and mark. My dog friends are all going to think a Chihuahua has taken over my body when they sniff my messages at the park. Sigh! But it’s getting better every day now. Dr. Fowler at Guardian Veterinary Centre did one heck of job fixing this hip after I dislocated it through a series of unfortunate incidents. Yup, dislocated. You know I survived the motorhome accident and then got clipped by a train and rescued from nearly dead I’m told….oh boy…Stanley had a Wild Party and ended up with a children’s book about his misadventures. Me…I ended up with a shaved leg full of staples which I painstakingly removed one by one with my teeth and then I got the Cone of Shame for TEN days!!
I should really back up here…so I was on this great holiday with my newly adopted family motorhoming through British Columbia and Alberta. I moved in with them ten months earlier. The view from the motorhome was FANTASTIC – who knew there was so much to see and smell! I was so excited to finally be going on my first trip at age ten I could hardly stand myself. I had my kid with me - he’s the same age so we hung out in the motorhome together. And then out of nowhere I was flying across the pavement, suddenly there were a lot of lights and sirens and people everywhere. It was terrifying and confusing and yes, I’m a coward…I RAN. I ran all night and all the next day and all the day after that. There was people trying to catch me, lure me with food and treats but I just kept running. I was really getting hungry though – you would think I would just eat garbage but hello! I’m a dog with a discerning palate…okay, and pretty severe food allergies so I can’t just eat anything while I’m on the run. I was hoping my family would find me but we didn’t cross paths. I heard after the fact they stayed looking for me but then had to get back home to deal with their injuries from the accident.
The people of Tofield didn’t give up on finding me though. Thank goodness because I had a bit of a mishap chasing the train in Tofield – I’d just never seen a train before and it seemed like a fun thing to do while I was waiting to find my family...In hindsight, not my best idea. I don’t really remember what happened but I woke up in really tall grass in the ditch beside the train tracks and it was dark and cold and I couldn’t get up and my leg REALLY hurt. I thought this was it – I’m going to survive a motor vehicle accident and then die in a ditch and get eaten by coyotes. Ugh…not the glorious end I had envisioned for myself…On the coyote note…seriously, a message to my coyote cousins…thankyou so much for leaving me alone that night or maybe old labradours just don’t suit your tastes or maybe, like me, you have food allergies and you’re careful what you eat. Whatever the reason – I am grateful.
Back to my story…so some really nice people scooped me up that night and took me to Hastings Lake Animal Hospital as an emergency patient. I was a nervous wreck – I’m not good a t meeting new people at the best of times but I did my very best that night. I even let Dr. Karen put my iv catheter in my front leg without a lick of trouble. She gave me some medicine through the iv that made me feel pretty funny but the pain in my hip went down to a dull roar so I was grateful. Running lose through the prairies for four days has it’s perks but honestly, I was happy to have a proper dog bed to sleep on and I fell right asleep in my hospital bed until the morning. I was exhausted – physically and emotionally from the previous four days events.
I heard Dr. Karen talking to my family and I couldn’t understand everything but it seemed like my family wasn’t going to be able to take me back. I was pretty bummed admittedly – but then I heard the hospital staff say that my family wasn’t going to be able to take care of me after this injury because they were trying to take care of their injuries. They thought if I could find a good home in Alberta that would be my best option. And then I heard that they started me a GoFundMe Page called Save Oak! Wow! I am a celebrity!! Finally somebody recognized my star quality – too bad I’m a bit of a wreck right now for all my media appearances. I really need to update my profile photos on Facebook and get my Instagram up and running…and who knows what platforms all those young dogs are using now! So much to do!!
I was working really hard on my recovery at the clinic and I even was able to do some walking on my own even though I was pretty wonky in the hindend. And I thought everything was proceeding perfectly and then I overheard one of the staff at the clinic whispering about how much money we needed for my hip surgery….$4800!! I freaked out! I ate through my ecollar that night, ripped up my blankets and peed in my bed…I was having a full on panic attack because I knew the bank account of Oak for sure did NOT have $4800 in it! And I really didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with my hip dislocated….oh, if I had just left the train alone…
But you know what? People I don’t even know – and to be honest, I’d probably be scared of them initially anyways because I’m a big chicken and make horrible first impressions – these people were donating money to help get my surgery done. Incredible isn’t it? For little old me a mutt with a grey muzzle and a broken tooth and a dislocated hip and an anxiety issue and a really ugly wart on my chest….Dr. Fowler said we could go ahead with the surgery and he gave me the rescue dog discount so we squeaked in just under the wire with the money everybody raised for me. Amazing!! I will never be able to thank all those folks – but you know who you are and thankyou so much!
My big surgery day started like most days except that Sarah forgot to give me my breakfast – I was pretty suspicious…and then Ryan and Dr. Karen took me to another big fancy veterinary clinic (with a really cute Pomeranian in the waiting room I might add…). Dr. Fowler went to look at my hip and I tried to nip him….aaaaaahhhhhhh….I am a FAILURE at first impressions! I really need to work on this. Thank goodness Dr. Fowler didn’t kick me out right there but instead he laughed and said “oh, sorry Oak I went right for your sore hip. Let’s try this again.” And so me and Dr. Fowler became fast friends – good thing because I guess my surgery was REALLY REALLY hard. Eeeek. Dr. Fowler pinned my hip back together during a very long surgery – the xrays are pretty cool. I think I’ll put those on my Facebook page…or wherever the cool dogs post stuff like that. And thank god, Dr. Fowler removed that unsightly wart from my chest!!
And here I am at the Blue Moon Pet Resort with my bionic hip, a really bad haircut and a new family waiting to adopt me! Seems kinda surreal doesn’t it? I’m a little nervous to meet my new family but I’m pretty sure they’re gonna love me because I am going to be the best dog ever for them! That’s the only way I can thank all those people who raised money for me, took care of me, drove me around and saw the real me when I was crazy with pain and fear and anxiety and really missing my home.
Willow, newly named by her smitten new owners, was plucked off death row in California - which she wants everyone to know is a harrowing experience that no dog should endure. Fortunately though, the whole death row shelter experience made the plane ride to Calgary and all the border crossing exams and undignified testing seem awfully mundane. Then she ended up in foster care, which she foolishly thought was her real home until she found herself at a big adoption event where she was expected to woo prospective adopters into loving her…omg, reality television gone terribly wrong she thought. It was kind of depressing but Willow decided she would give it her best shot – she’d been practising smiling without showing all her broken teeth and she had the woeful, cute puppy look down pat. She hoped she could hide her age behind a cute face – because who would want to adopt an old dog with a mouthful of broken teeth? And unfortunately, death row did not avail itself to her regular fitness and spa program and she was ashamed of her pudgy tummy and lacklustre coat. And her nails…we won’t even speak of those…But she decided to work with what she had. And work it she did! She landed the best home ever!! The poor unsuspecting souls Willow giggled to herself as she trotted out of the adoption centre with her new best friends!!
Willow’s new owners, some of the most loving and capable pet parents I have ever met were rejected by another rescue to adopt ‘because they weren’t home enough’…really? They are very normal people with very normal jobs – thank God they’re both working because Willow, it turns out, is a pricey little number! I was, laughably, also rejected by a rescue to adopt because my dogs live on 60 acres on Invisible Fence rather than having a small permanently fenced yard. Well, Willow’s family does have an excellent fence which has contained many dogs over the years…but not Willow…the Beagle in her found the one tiny opportunity and she squeezed her squishy little Beagley body through that hole that really only water could get through and off she went on a grand adventure! She enjoyed the long summer night with an endless trail of scents to follow, garbages to ransack, stray dogs to mingle with and best of all, no humans telling her what to do. Until one of the busy body humans lured her in with a delicious treat the next morning and snagged her by the collar! Even a quick little nip did not deter the human … ugh. That darn new collar!! She looked so svelte in it she was enjoying catching her reflection as she strutted past shiny garbage cans and car doors – she especially liked the reflections that stretched out her short little Corgi legs into the long sleek legs of a Vizsla. She had met a stunning red Vizsla on the plane over from California – she was so beautiful and vane and looked at Willow with her short legs and broken teeth with disdain. But it was Willow, with her puppy face and expressive ears that got adopted first. Willow felt a bit sorry for Victoria the Viszla as she left the adoption centre with her new family. Victoria was crestfallen.
Willow was returned to her new owners the next morning who had launched an immediate and vast social media campaign to find her…Willow was stunned that anyone would care so much to find her…nobody had ever cared about her that much. Wow! They didn’t even seem that upset about the hefty “Dog At Large” ticket and the canine criminal record for biting…in hindsight, not her best decision….Although ouch, the picture they put on her poster…not really her best shot…she will need to remember next time to have a proper portrait done before her next adventure because it really didn’t do anything for her reputation to have that …well, quite frankly…entirely unflattering picture being circulated around of her. Good grief! California girls have a reputation to uphold don’t you know!
Willow had barely settled in for her morning nap, after a rather embarrassing episode of TERRIBLE gas from the night’s adventures when she was whisked away for a car ride….to the vet…oh boy…this wasn’t going to be good…At the vet’s office they delved into her sordid history, what was known of it, and then they just invented the rest of it based on “clinical findings” they said. What kind of hogwash was that?! The vet said “Willow has a lot of things going on here…”. And to Willow’s horror the veterinarian started listing off ALL of her short comings….big c-section incision, her large mammary glands that the vet was thrilled had no lumps detected, her terrible teeth – all broken from chewing kennels and fences, her upset tummy, the anxiety disorder she had developed on death row and then they started talking about testing her for a bunch of gross diseases spread by ticks….What kind of dog did they think she was?? Willow was panic stricken…her new owners were NEVER going to keep her after that stunt last night and now this litany of veterinary issues….She really wished she hadn’t let the naughty Beagle part of her get out of control last night…she was doomed she thought!
So Willow’s SECOND day with her new family was spent in the veterinary hospital having testing, iv fluids and iv medications to get her tummy feeling better. Much to Willow’s surprise her new mom stayed with her at the hospital!! Willow was so relieved and astonished that humans could actually be so considerate and loving. She was kind of liking these new kind of humans she met…but she was secretly DREADING the test for the tick disease because she knew very well that while she was on death row a gnarly old street dog was beside her and he was covered in ticks and every once in a while Willow would wake up from her nap and find one of those pesky ticks burrowed into her skin. This was NOT helping her anxiety – where on earth was that Prozac the vet was talking about?!
On Willow’s THIRD day with her new family the news came in…she indeed had a tick borne disease called Ehrlichia….called WHAT??!! Ear – lick- ya??!! It sounded disgusting and she thought for sure this was the final straw and she’d be back in California on doggie death row…but her new humans seemed rather unfazed by the whole affair. They were rather far more concerned that she wasn’t really drinking well because they thought her teeth were hurting….and they were concerned about her anxiety and how to treat that Ehrlichia disease for her…Willow was not at all expecting this kind of unconditional love from her new humans and so she quietly made a pact with herself to be the best dog she could be for her new family. She laid quietly in the hospital while she had her treatments and was the perfect patient and she decided she was going to go home and try really hard to eat and drink and do all the doggy things they needed her to do! And she PROMISED, no more naughty Beagle Behaviour!!
The misadventures of Hammey and the Sticky Trap. Grandma was babysitting one fine sunny day and Hammey was out adventuring with his two little boys when he scurried behind the couch to play some hide and seek. Suddenly he felt like his tiny paws were trapped in glue...and then his fur got caught...and his chin all the way down to his tail...OMG it was a Hamster Nightmare!! He was stuck flat to one of those nasty sticky traps meant to catch his Mouse cousins when they came visiting. Horrible things. Hammey was going through all his survivalist techniques in his head and to his dismay realized he'd forgotten to pack his cheeks with seeds this morning. Oh no! He was going to starve here unless somebody found him. Thank God grandma checked his cage and realized he wasn't there and she went looking for him only to find him stuck completely to the dreaded sticky trap. Nobody even knew it was there! She gently peeled him off and rushed him to the vet. Hammey had several olive oil soaks and Dawn dish soap baths...he is NOT a fan of bathing or oiling he discovered! But he never bit anybody through all this he was such a good boy❤️❤️. He was discharged home from the hospital with just one superficial abrasion on his paw and he will be monitored for diarrhea since he did ingest some adhesive from trying to free himself. Hammey wants to please remind people that sticky traps are extremely inhumane methods to kill rodents ... he in fact thinks all rodents should be live trapped and relocated ... but that's a hamster thing❤️❤️❤️. Please don't use sticky traps.
One evening at a dinner party one of our good friends posed the question to the group "What would you do if you won the lotto for $10 million today?". Everybody in the group was quick to rattle off loans they would pay off, things they would buy for themselves and loved ones, trips they would take and charities they would support. Most importantly, they all said "I would quit my job tomorrow!". I was the only one at the table who said I would do all the same things except I wouldn't quit my job. I said I would invest in my veterinary practise and continue practising. Anybody who knows me would not be even a little bit surprised by my response. I absolutely love what I do and have never felt like I have worked a day in my life. Until that dinner party, I had not realized what a gift I had, to love my work.
I want to spend the remainder of my career practising in my own community and contributing something back to this wonderful group of people who have shaped this lovely rural neighbourhood. Our community is a joy to live in, a paradise for our children and full of people who love animals as much as I do.
Dr. Karen Allen has a small veterinary practice on her farm in rural Alberta. She cares for companion animals and farm pets, plus two growing children and her own menagerie of misfits from Sully the bed pooper to Ruby the naughty red pony who was sent home from the trainer's with an "F" on her report card! Karen's passion for veterinary medicine only barely eclipses her passion for surfing...which she took up at age 39 when she probably should have been looking at one piece bathing suits and cruises! And yes, her husband is a saint :)