A couple of weeks ago, my boss received a panicked, teary call from me around 7:15am.
Obi was sick.
(If you don't know Obi, you can catch up on the Stray Dog Saga starting here. Or see photo here.)
I'd been up with him since 2AM. He'd had bad poo - we're talking BAAAAD poo - in the night. There were several more bad poos in the wee hours, but thankfully we were outside for the onset of those. Around 4AM he started limping, holding one of his front legs off the ground. I checked his leg and paw for obvious wounds, trying not to cause him any additional distress. Everything looked fine. But everything was obviously not fine, because he whined whenever I touched his leg or whenever he tried to stand up.
When he started holding one of his hind legs off the ground, I began to freak out.
When he couldn't sit or lie down without a continuous tortured whimper, I started to lose my shit.
I called my boss and told her I was taking Obi to the vet, which didn't open until 8AM. As gently as I could, I loaded him into the Jeep where he lay curled up in a tight, whimpering ball of pain. We drove to the vet and waited in the parking lot until they opened. I carried Obi's trembling body into the office and placed him on the exam table where he tried to stand on two legs for as long as possible, eventually failing and sinking painfully down to lie on his stomach, head between his splayed front paws.
I pictured a perforated gut from a bone I'd given him to chew. I visualized cancer eating away at his insides. If there was any horribly painful doggy disease he could have contracted, I played it out in my head. Every scenario ended with him being put to sleep.
"Tick fever," the vet said.
"Oh, thank god," I said, finally remembering to exhale in a whoosh. "Wait. Sooo... what does that mean? Tick fever?"
"It means antibiotics."
"It's not a punctured colon?"
"And it's not cancer?"
"No. I'm 99.9 percent sure it's tick fever. He could've gotten the bite 2-6 months ago and is just now manifesting symptoms."
I stroked Obi's head. He gave me the sad eyes which silently communicated, please, please make it better. I had to look away or burst into tears. "Is he going to be alright? When will he start to feel better?"
"We should see definite improvement in 24 to 36 hrs. If not, we'll run his blood and check for other possible tick-related diseases."
Wanting to make sure Obi received the best possible care, I left him at the vet's while I raced to work. "We'll make sure he takes his pills and stays hydrated," the vet said as I left. "We'll also give him something to help calm his tummy."
After five days in dog hospital, I was able to bring him home. After a series of tests, we discovered Obi had TWO tick-borne diseases, Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick Fever and something called Canine Ehrliciosis, which is why they had to keep him so long. I am happy to report he is almost back to his former self, though he's got 30 days of antibiotics (3xa day), a steroid, and a pain killer. Then at the end of the antibiotics he goes back in for a booster shot, just to make sure we "kick this stuff in the ass".*
I had no idea being a dog owner was this complicated. My cat, Mr. Beckett, has never been sick a day in his life. Once he had a rash on his chin. I took him to the vet and got some cream and liquid antibiotics for a mere $165. After four days of getting mauled as I tried to hold him down and squirt the liquid into his mouth with a syringe, I gave up. Neither the cream nor the antibiotic was having a noticeable effect on the rash anyway. Instead I bought a $3.99 tube of Neosporin. Rash was gone in 48 hours.
Will the wonders of Neosporin never cease? I'm just sayin'...
*Vet quote. It merely strengthens my luuuuurve for him.