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.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PETS - By Eve­lyn Len star2@ thes­tar. com. my

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.

Old age

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.

— Pho­tos: EVE­LYN LEN/ The Star

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.

— EVE­Lyn LEn/ The Star

Three weeks af­ter the stroke, Mazie is back on her feet again.

More nee­dles on her legs, for the acupunc­ture.

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