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Butterfly’s Echo

              Recently, we took Butterfly in for her six month echocardiogram. When we adopted her at the end of 2012, she was diagnosed with a heart problem that could, potentially, develop into congestive heart failure. I worry each time she coughs, because the original vet told me that coughing could be a sign of heart failure. And I worry about the lumps and bumps on her skin, because I don’t want to assume that something is benign and then find out that I left a tumor growing inside of my baby until it was too late. I just can’t believe that she is as healthy as she seems.

Butterfly's First Day Home

Butterfly’s First Day Home

The echocardiograms are subsidized by the shelter where we adopted her, and they also cover her wellness visits, so we scheduled both at the same time.

We took her for her 10:30 AM appointment and she was seen almost immediately by the cardiologist. He said, basically, that her prolapsed valve was a tiny bit worse, but she had no signs of congestive heart failure. I told him how much she had improved since November: she can run, and jump, and stand straight up on her back legs, to beg for food. He just smiled and patted her head, and the appointment was over.

When we asked at the front desk about Butterfly’s wellness visit, they said she was scheduled for 12:45 PM, in two hours, so not at the same time, as we’d been told. We were wondering if we should go home for lunch and come back, but the woman at the desk said there was only one dog ahead of us and it would be a short wait.

We sat on the wooden benches against the walls of the waiting room, which were comfortable for the first twenty minutes, and then not. Butterfly was stunned from her ordeal. She still had goop on her belly from the test, and she was almost dead weight in my arms again, the way she’d been way back when we first adopted her. I held her on my lap and gave her scratches and talked to her. We tried the dog cookies they had in a jar on the counter, but she wasn’t interested. I hadn’t thought to bring chicken treats with me.

I felt awful leaving Cricket home alone. Cricket found it shocking herself. But she didn’t need to sit in a waiting room swirling with various diseases. And, as we sat there waiting, I was relieved to have left her home, because she would have been barking her head off.

My poor lonely Cricket

My poor lonely Cricket

The waiting room was full. There were a lot of newly adopted puppies getting their shots or being treated for kennel cough. There was a Cocker Spaniel with a big, red growth on his ear and a cone on his head to keep him from biting it, again. And there was an Australian Cattle Dog mix, named Bandit, who jumped up and shed all over me and gave me kisses. He had epilepsy and was there to get more medication for his seizures. It was an odd coincidence, because I’d just been told that my abnormal EEG could mean that I was having partial seizures. I tried to ask Bandit what it felt like to have epilepsy, but he was too busy giving me kisses.

An hour along, Butterfly was back to full strength and up to visiting the other dogs, and peeing on the floor, but Mom was getting antsy. She went up to the front desk to ask when we’d be going in and they told her there had been twelve emergencies, and they all took precedence over a wellness visit. But, the woman at the desk told her, there was only one more dog ahead of us.

Our choices were to believe her and stay, or be circumspect, reschedule the appointment, and go home. I really wanted to take Butterfly to Cricket’s vet instead, but it was so much more expensive. The shelter’s medical care was subsidized, so instead of paying $350 for an echo, we paid $50 and there was no charge for her wellness visit. We decided to wait.

There was a pug in the waiting room with her dad, and she was there for an echo too. She already had congestive heart failure and took daily meds to help control it, but her dad said that if he saw her trying to run after a squirrel in the yard, he’d run screaming, “No!” because if she exerts herself too much, she faints.

I felt guilty, and lucky, that my Butterfly wasn’t in her situation, yet.

After the pug left, more puppies came in for their shots, including two white toy poodles, with their ears died pink and blue to identify which one was the boy and which one was the girl.

The long wait was starting to get to me, but I felt guilty for complaining when all of these other dogs were coming in with emergencies, and I wasn’t paying much for help. I do okay with feeling worthy of care when I’m alone, but when it feels like someone else might need things more than I do, I struggle. I almost lose track of myself, and disappear. I couldn’t force myself to go up to the front desk and ask about Butterfly’s appointment, even after two hours, and then three. I left it to Mom to be the assertive one.

It’s been a relief to see Butterfly finding her voice lately. She barks when her sister leaves the room, or when she thinks she’s missing something exciting. She demands attention and expresses frustration when it is not forthcoming. I wanted this for her, but I’m not the one who taught her, Cricket did. Maybe I can get Cricket to give me lessons too.

My assertive girls

My assertive girls

By the time we went in for the wellness visit, we’d been in the waiting room for four hours, and when the general veterinarian looked at Butterfly’s chart, she found out that she only needed one booster; the rest weren’t due until November.

Since we were there anyway, I took the opportunity to point out to the vet all of the various lumps and bumps on Butterfly’s skin. She did a needle aspiration on the largest lump and showed me how the pus came up through the needle. It was a sebaceous cyst, she said, and nothing to worry about.

We were done within minutes of stepping into the examining room. We were exhausted, and starving, but relieved.

When we finally got home, Cricket was crazed and jumping all over us as if we’d been gone for months. She sniffed Butterfly for signs of where she’d been and then carefully sniffed my pant leg for the smells of other dogs, of which there were many. My clothes, covered in dog hair, went straight into the laundry basket and I went into the shower. After we’d all calmed down and eaten a late lunch, we settled down for a nap. Butterfly fell asleep at my side right away, but Cricket ran back and forth from Mom’s room to mine every few minutes, to sniff her sister for signs of where she’d been, still shocked that Butterfly had dared to go on an exciting adventure without her mentor.

Butterfly and her suspicious mentor

Butterfly and her suspicious mentor

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

58 responses »

  1. Four hours wait!! That’s a lot for you and mum let alone poor Butterfly. However, I’m glad that everything seems to be ok. Poor Cricket, she must have felt lonely being on her own for all these hours without mum, grandma and her sister.

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  2. It is very difficult waiting so long at the vets 😦 Good news generally for Butterfly though.

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  3. Sounds a lot like some aspects of human medical care here in Canada…. Very glad to hear this chapter turned out happily!

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    • I’m hoping that this is the kind of pain I will forget, at least in time to make her next appointment in November. It helps that, once we got into the office, the doctors were good. I hope its the same for the humans in Canada.

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  4. My dear Bonnie dog is a very healthy dog right now at 13 years. She does have major separation anxiety and it acts a lot like Cricket at times. So glad Butterfly is ok.

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    • I think we need to get doggy cell phones. Then when poor Cricket is home alone for more than five seconds she could call up one of her friends and complain about her horrible humans who dared to leave the house without her. We could just program the numbers in, sign up for face time, and use big paw sized buttons. I wonder what the cell phone bill would come to.

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  5. Waiting and waiting IS exhausting, but ultimately it was worth the wait and I’m glad Butterfly is doing well. When you, Mom and Butterfly went down for naps, Cricket was most likely racing back and forth to watch and guard all of you, to make sure you weren’t going anywhere again!

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    • Right now, Cricket has taken over my seat on the couch. I think she’s angry that I’m spending so much time on the computer, talking about Butterfly. She is very protective and very jealous. She keeps like interesting.

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  6. What a nightmarish ordeal!! Reminds me of an ER visit with a friend to a local county hospital in South Carolina – we waited 8 hours to see a doctor. She’s almost forgotten why she was there by the time we got in. Poor Butterfly and Poor Cricket, too – and their poor Mom!! Hope today is a better one – thank goodness for the good results!!

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  7. I was wondering what vet you went to when I read that there was no waiting at first. They paid you back with interest. Typical medical profession-your time isn’t worth anything and their time is worth gold.

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  8. Wow! What a long wait! Having worked in a vet clinic before, I generally tend to side with the clinic. Vet staffs – especially the shelter clinics – are generally overworked and underpaid for what they do. It doesn’t make the wait any less pleasant for you guys though – especially with sick dogs. So glad the news was positive for Butterfly!

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    • Thank you! I think they must have been training new staff that day (or I hope that’s what it was), because at one point there were about ten people milling back behind the desk area. But it’s also such a big organization, with so many adoptions every day, that it’s bound to get crowded.

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  9. 4 hours…A day of exhaustion, worry and patience being tested…Being surrounded by all the other dogs was such a blessing!!!! Hugs to you and your mom and especially Cricket…So glad everything turned out so very well…Great news indeed!!!! That pic of Butterfly by the rainy window….so pitiful…Hope your day is full of rest and relaxation!!!! Happy day!!!!

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  10. So glad all is well. I wish I had a program that helped subsidize my 2 dogs and 5 cats! That’s great (even if it is sometimes a long wait). I had a little Poodle with congestive heart failure. When she was older, on her medication she ended up living 5 years longer than the vet expected. He was surprised but glad. And she had a good life. You couldn’t even tell she was sick! So they can live a good long time! Wishing you all the best.

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  11. What a coincidence, i tool my Marcel for his wellness visit last week too, and his brother, Marceau was home alone for the first time in his life. As it turned out Marcel had to stay at the vet to get 11 (!)teeth pulled and I had to head on to work. I picked him up afterwards so Marceau was alone from 8:35 AM until about 6 PM but he seemed ok when we got home. I wrote about it in my latest blog post and included some photos if you want to see

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  12. Good luck with everything, I know how stressful it is.

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  13. Wow – what an outing! No wonder Butterfly fell straight to sleep. You must have been exhausted too 🙂

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  14. Ohoh, what an ordeal! Next time, take your lunch with you because a pet program with such low costs is worth a good wait! But no, no fun! Hope you all spoiled yourself after that.
    Good thing that Butterfly is so well, she is lucky with her lovely caring mom. I had a Jack Russel with congestive heart failure. With extra care and nurishment, she happily and actively lived untill she was 14! I wish the same and longer for little butterfly. Hugs from Ohio, Johanna.

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  15. Luz Maria and Sr. Diego are very happy that Butterfly received good news from the veterinarians. They practise healthy living but their Cuban human tries to sabotage it by giving them human treats. Momma has to step in and banish the Cuban from the kitchen. Lol. 🙂

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  16. I’m so glad to hear Butterfly is OK. I can sympathize with Cricket; I hate being left alone. Do you know, the same thing happened to me when I left the shelter? Mom noticed me shaking my head and took me back for a checkup (I had an ear infection) and we literally waited for hours on end. And the whole time I was thinking they took me there to give me back! I was terrified. We go to Dr. W. now at the clinic by the house. Thank goodness for that! I do hope Butterfly continues to improve. Sending you and your dogs a tail-wag and face-lick! Love, Maggie

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    • I think that, once we came back from the vet this last time, Butterfly really understood that she was home for good. That’s when her stubborn streak kicked in, with much more barking her opinions and sitting down on the job. Her personality is becoming bigger by the day.

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  17. Butterfly is looking as cute as ever. i’m glad everything went okay in the end, and you guys are getting subsidized for being ruly remarkable fur baby owners 🙂

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  18. I love reading about your doggies! They brighten my day. Because of this, I’ve nominated your rachelmankowitz blog for a Sunshine Award. I genuinely enjoy reading your work and feel that it embodies the spirit of the Sunshine Awards. You truly are “lighting up the dark corners of our minds”.

    To learn more about the Sunshine Award and your fellow nominees, please visit:

    http://coffeeshoprabbi.com/2013/08/09/sunshine/

    And, thank you for all you’re doing to make our world kinder and more compassionate by focusing a little attention on your sweet animals and the thoughts they inspire.

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    • Thank you so much! I have been very tempted to adopt a golden doodle and name her sunshine. I may have to make due with a turtle named sunshine, or an ant colony. We’ll see. Thank you again!

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  19. I’m glad that you still have time with your beloved Butterfly. 🙂 Cherish it. My Bear went to be with the Lord last week and it’s been really hard, even though we know we did the right thing.

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    • When it was time to put my Dina down, I was devastated too. I’m doing my best to cherish every day with Butterfly, because I know I won’t have her as long. But really, even if I’d only had her for a week, or a month, she would have already made her mark on me.

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  20. That was a very, very long weight. But to find out sweet Butterfly is doing okay and to save that much money the wait must have been worth it. We are happy there was no bad news for sweet Butterfly. Hugs and nose kisses

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  21. So glad the little Butterfly is Free. Sofie and Louise go crazy if I take one without the other, so I actually take both to the vet for the other’s visit, unless it is an emergency. 🙂

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  22. Oh what a long wait , and knowing Cricket was home alone must have been tough for you. But glad to hear Butterfly is doing well Rachel. My Lurcher Lucy has separating problems and I can’t leave her for long.
    Take Care
    Sheila x

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    • A big part of the logic (excuse?) for getting a second dog was to help Cricket when she has to be home without her humans, so leaving her without her zen puppy once again, clearly bothered her. I wonder if this means she loves her sister?

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  23. My 8-year-old mini poodle Darby has a heart murmur, grade 4, I believe. She coughs sometimes, maybe every other day or so. And I do see her tire a tad bit faster over the last year or so. I am planning on putting her on L Carnitine, Taurine, and co-enzyme-Q-10 asap after doing a bit of online research. Hoping my sweet, half-human angel stays with me for many healthy more years!

    Reply

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