A miracle named Mazie
A stroke reduces an active dog to a limp bundle, but determination and tender loving care get her on her feet again.
A WEEK before Chinese New Year, my pet dog Mazie collapsed – and could not move after that.
Worried, I took her to the vet first thing the very next day, a Saturday. I had already called to inform them of this emergency, so the clinic staff were prepared to receive Mazie with a veterinary trolley. But carrying her from my car to the trolley was a challenge: She felt much heavier than the 14 .5kg that she was.
The vet asked about her age. As Mazie is a rescue dog, there’s no telling what her exact age is. I estimated Mazie’s age to be about seven years. After checking her teeth, the vet said it’s more like 10 years ( or 70 years in human terms). Oh ...
She’s had episodes of this before, I told the vet. Could it be heat stroke? This dog of mine – and I have three – likes to sunbathe. She would happily lie in the midday sun while the other two dogs seek shelter in the shade. She’s had previous episodes of temporary immobility after being out in the sun too much, but she always got back on her feet after an hour or so. But not this time.
After examining Mazie and taking a blood sample and her blood pressure – it was 160, when the normal blood pressure for a dog should be 120, as for humans – the vet said Mazie had suffered a stroke. Seeing she was also quite dehydrated yet refused to drink water, the vet quickly gave her a subcutaneous drip ( fluid therapy).
She also promptly performed acupuncture and heat therapy on Mazie.
Then the vet fed her a few types of tablets, buried in chunks of dog food, which she readily lapped up. Between her fall and the visit to the vet’s, she had rejected food altogether.
I was to callthe clinic for the blood test results the following Monday. Over the weekend, Mazie looked really terrible – just lying there ( and having to be turned every few hours, to avoid pressure sores), eyes halfclosed. For a few moments, one of her legs was flailing helplessly. Her body was quivering. A seizure!
The vet had prescribed antibiotics and medication for seizures, nerves and inflammation. Mazie would have none of those, even though they were wrapped in dog food. She continued to refuse all food and water. So I had no choice but to force- feed her, spooning tiny quantities of water at a time into the side of her mouth.
Monday came, and the vet called up. The blood results were out, and everything seemed OK. Mazie’s vital organs were stillin good shape. But since there was no improvement in her condition – she wasn’t eating, drinking or taking her meds, and looked half- dead – we paid a second visit to the vet’s.
This time, Mazie’s blood pressure had shot up to an alarming 200! The vet immediately drew blood – filling four tubes – and managed to bring the pressure down to a safer level. And then, another round of acupuncture and subcutaneous drip.
At this point, the vet and I discussed the option of euthanasia. If Mazie was just going to waste away, it would be better to let her
die with dignity rather than the possibility of maggots eating up her flesh. My heart was heavy as I drove home ...
the end draws near?
That night, I could not sleep. I woke up, feeling very emotional. I reflected on the joy that Mazie had brought us from the day we rescued her, and how she had overcome so many obstacles in her life so far – being dumped by her previous owner; getting knocked down by a car; hit with an umbrella by a nasty neighbour; at times being squashed by our other ( bigger) dogs and hurting her back in the process. Would she be able to pull through this time? I wept, and prayed that if her time was up, that she would drift off peacefully and painlessly.
Her condition continued to deteriorate during the week. And my daughter and I were aghast when we discovered red ants on parts of her body. There was a fly or two buzzing around, too. We quickly brushed the ants off, applied ointment on her, and sprayed insecticide to keep them at bay.
That’s it. I wasn’t going to let her die by ant bite or maggot infestation. She had lost a significant amount of weight, and was back to being skin and bones – just like the day I found her seven years ago. The next morning, I brought her back to the clinic. This time, another vet was on duty. It was so strange – all this while, Mazie’s eyes were half- closed, as if she was dying. But now, at the vet’s, her eyes were as round as saucers! They almost sparkled.
“Are you sure you want to do this? Have you told all your family members? Have they all agreed to it?” the vet asked. Yes, yes, yes, I said. But in my heart, I was crumbling.
“Look at those eyes!” said the vet. “She’s telling me she doesn’t want to die. So even if I were to put her down, I would have to sedate her first.” Now, I was having doubts about it, too. She explained step by step how euthanasia works, and then gave me the option of giving Mazie drips myself, at home. If there was hope, why not give it a shot.
Back home, my daughter played nurse as we administered the drips to Mazie, twice a day, every day, for five days.
We coaxed her to eat – finally, she accepted the food – and continued to give her water by spoon.
Determined to walk again
Meanwhile, life went on as usual for the other two dogs. Mazie could only look on longingly while they went for their daily walks.
One evening, Mazie cried when the other dogs returned from their walk. The fact that she could make sounds was progress, as she had been silent since the stroke. She also tried desperately to walk but it was very difficult. She would take one or two steps, then falter and flop down, sometimes with her legs sticking out at odd angles.
This scenario was repeated over the next few days. But with each passing day, she was getting stronger and could walk further.
Then, one night, she appeared stable enough on her feet so I put a body harness on her and took her for a walk. I didn’t think we would go far. But she was pulling at the leash. Her energy surprised me. We walked a good distance from my house to the park nearby. It’s quite a sizeable park, and Mazie managed to go halfway before she suddenly sat down. Enough for the day. I carried her home the rest of the way.
The next day, she could complete the walk around the park. And on the days that followed, there was no stopping her: She could venture further away.
Three weeks after the stroke, she was back to her former self and going about her daily routines.
Today, a month after that scary experience, you couldn’t tell that Mazie ever had a stroke.
Mazie at the vet’s, on the day that she was supposed to be put down, after her condition had deteriorated steadily due to a stroke. Then there was a turn of events!
Undergoing acupuncture for stroke, a week before chinese New Year.
Three weeks after the stroke, Mazie is back on her feet again.
More needles on her legs, for the acupuncture.