Sanchez is 10 years old and went through some scary times in 2012 due to a slipped disc in his neck. I’m familiar with feelings of worrying about a dog in their double digits. Worrying about my young Lab, however, was completely foreign to me, until June of 2013.
I took the dogs for a walk at dusk on a Friday night. It had been an intensely busy week, with the launch of iCalmDog and Through a Cat’s Ear. I had been working around the clock and was exhausted. We were only walking down the driveway when Gina started coughing really loudly and was clearly very uncomfortable. Shortly after we made it home, she started coughing up pink fluid that clearly included blood. I called the emergency vet and they instructed me to bring her right in. I live in a rural area and by the time I arrived 40 minutes later, she was coughing up a lot of blood, which was now bright red.
Every test under the sun was run on her, and everything came back negative, except an inflamed trachea. My concern was that she swallowed a fox tail, but that wasn’t showing up on an x-ray, even when read by a radiologist.
At 2 am, I left her to rest while her iCalmDog soothed her. By then, her lungs were filled with fluid, as she had been swallowing her own blood. She was on IV and oxygen was ready for her in case she needed it. I went home and sobbed myself to sleep.
The next morning, I spoke to my holistic veterinarian along with the daytime vet on duty at the emergency clinic. Gina’s fever had spiked during the night, but she was now in stable condition. I was told that an internist needed to be brought in from Marin County to do a scoping procedure. While her lungs filled with fluid, she was at risk of going into cardiac arrest with anesthesia. But, the risk of doing nothing was much greater, as it would surely mean fatality.
North Peninsula Veterinary Emegency Clinic was wonderful and suggested that Gina and I have some quiet time together in a room by ourselves. The next 45 minutes or so was an experience that I never will forget. Gina was out of it. She knew who I was, but she seemed lifeless, her wiggles were missing in her body, and when she wasn’t coughing, I kept checking her breathing to make sure she was alive.
During that quiet time together, I lied down on the floor with her and cuddled while we listening to music softly playing on the iCalmDog. (Sound samples here.) With the music playing, I experienced a closer connection to a dog than I have ever known in my life. While I’ve used the music to help calm dogs, and to soothe me, this time was different. The slowed down compositions now transformed to a deeply emotionally connecting experience with Gina. Intuitively, I believed this would not be our last time snuggling. Even so, time stood still in that 45 minutes. And while tears were shed, my heart was so full of love, and the music seemed to open it up more than I knew possible.
Time did not, however, stand still when she was put under. I don’t remember how long the procedure took, but it felt like days. I could finally breath again when I saw the vet come out to the waiting area with a smile. She was holding a long green blade of very sharp saw grass. Gina, who has always been a grass eater, had swallowed the blade whole. None of the veterinarians, or any I have spoken to since, had ever seen anything like this.
She recovered well and pretty fast. In fact, three days later, she seemed to be herself, wiggles, endless energy and all. But, I had to keep her still for a week, otherwise she’d start coughing. Again, the iCalmDog came in handy. I kept it playing almost continuously that week, and brought it with us everywhere.
While it’s now six months later and she’s been fine all this time, it’s also the start of a new year. And reflecting back on 2013, this experience causes me to be deeply grateful that both of my dogs are in good health. The experience of building our emotional connection by sharing music together only continues to grow.
The video below was taken just at the end of December 2013. Obviously, all is well and Gina is happy, happy, happy. And Sanchez is just fine. Wishing you a sweet new year, filled with abundant doggy (and kitty) kisses.