Life Turns on a Dime

I’m writing this on Monday morning rather than Wednesday when I usually do because it seems as though a lifetime has passed since I wrote my last blog, a cheery little missive saying that Christmas is almost upon us—Hi-HO.  And then, not four hours later, life changed.

Our dogs usually eat at 3 PM.  In a normal world, Jojo starts squeaking her obnoxious rubber chicken at 2:30 PM.  That’s her official dinner bell notice that it’s time for us to deliver food. 

Last Wednesday that didn’t happen.  At 2:30 or so, she came over to the hassock and didn’t seem interested in using the doggie step stool, so Bill picked her up and she settled down next to him in his chair.  The next thing I knew, it was 4:05.  There hadn’t been a single squeak, but I served their dinner anyway.  When it was time for Jojo to leave the chair, her hind legs didn’t work.  I thought maybe they were just asleep.  After all, that happens to me from time to time, but things didn’t improve.  At ten to five I called our vet.  He said to take Jojo to an emergency pet hospital because, with this kind of thing there’s a twenty-four hour window when surgery might improve things.  That’s what the neurologist at the pet hospital said, too—a twenty-four hour window, and that Jojo would have a better chance of regaining some use of her legs if the surgery happened that night instead of waiting until morning.  After X-rays and an MRI, Jojo went into surgery around 10:30 PM and came out of the OR at 1:30 AM.  How do I know that?  I was still up waiting.  And worrying.  I called the hospital and spoke to the surgeon while she was still in the OR.

When Bella, our first long-haired doxie went down in the hindquarters, it was the weekend, of course, and we had no idea about that 24 hour window, so we lost Bella.  She was a rescue, pictured on the left below.  She was probably around fourteen when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge, but there’s no way to know that for sure.

On Wednesday night, we looked at what the estimated bill would be (back surgery for doxies is NOT covered by Medicare!), took a deep breath, and told each other, “It looks like this is what we’re getting for Christmas.”

On Thursday we waited and worried.  On Friday we waited and worried, trying to peer into the future and see how things would unfold.  On Saturday we went to pick her up.  Let’s just say that the young woman who handled our discharge interview has a good chance of being either a victim or perpetrator in one of my upcoming books.  She went over our list of medications, telling us that one prescription had been called into a previously unheard of pharmacy in Bellevue.  When I called to find out where they were located, the message said they were closed on weekends.  When I asked the young woman what we were supposed to do with a prescription called to a pharmacy that wasn’t open, she snarled at me saying she would not be “spoke to in that kind of condescending tone!”  I did not throw her through the window, but I was sorely tempted.  She addressed the rest of her monologue strictly to Bill before stalking out, never to be seen again.  I called our neighborhood Walgreens.  Yes, they had the medication in question, but the front desk told me that with the doctor not there on the weekend, her prescription couldn’t be recalled or sent to another pharmacy.  So at this point, 9 AM on Monday, that issue still isn’t fixed.

When they brought Jojo out, it was heartbreaking.  If she was glad to see us, it didn’t show.  It was like bringing home a helpless 15 pound newborn baby.  Wherever we put her, she stayed.  With no bladder control.  So that’s a problem.  There are techniques we’re supposed to be able to use to help her pee, but no one at the hospital actually showed us how to do it.  They just handed her over, and left us to figure it out.  We haven’t.  I can tell you we’ve used up mountains of towels and pee pads the past several days.

Jojo and Mary have slept on the bed with us from the beginning.  That wasn’t going to work, so on Saturday night I made a bed for Jojo in one corner of the room, tucked her in, and with an ache in my heart, went to bed.

People who follow my blog may remember the book tour where, due to a severe hearing loss I would have to have hotel security come wake me because I couldn’t hear the alarm on my cell phone.  Guess what?  At ten to six on Sunday morning, my mommy hearing app kicked in and I was awakened by the tiniest whimper from the corner of the room.  When I got to the bed, Jojo was still in the exact same corner and position where I had left her.

Once we brought her home, for the remainder of Saturday and all day Sunday, we fought the battle of Dachshund Locked Jaw, trying to get her meds down her throat.  It was not a pleasant experience for any of us.  We spent both days, lifting her out of soaked pee pads, cleaning her off, and putting her back down on new ones.  And all the while we felt more and more heartsick.  

We watched Home and Garden TV for hours on end.  How many episodes of Love It or List It are there?  We watched football.  We watched all of Jack Ryan and Mrs. Maisel on Amazon TV.  We watched It’s a Wonderful Life, and like George and Mary did on VJ Day, we wept and prayed, and spent all day Sunday believing that this morning we’d go visit our vet and probably say goodbye to our Jojo.  

I know that lots of people have been praying for our little ragamuffin double-dappled baby, and this morning those prayers were answered.  At ten to six, I was again awakened by a puppy whimper, but this time, when I got out of bed, where was she?  Right there beside the bed, asking to be picked up.  I’m sure she dragged herself over, but she got there.  And when I took her outside, she stood on her own for about 30 seconds.  Does that count as a miracle?  I think so, a medical miracle and a spiritual one as well.

Our big concern was that she had undergone surgery because of selfish guilt on our part.  And that’s probably true.  How could a four year-old dog who was fine at noon be on her way out by five PM?  The neural surgeon’s notes say she has a degenerative disease of the spine that plagues dachshunds.  If this situation recurs in the future, we won’t force here to undergo another surgery, but for now we’re grateful to have her for whatever time we have her.  Will we be investing in doggie diapers?  Maybe.  Probably.

Our house has steps inside and out.  It’s not exactly built to accommodate a paraplegic puppy, but we’ll cope.  We’ll adjust.  

And for now, it’s Welcome Home, Jojo.  

We’re so glad you’re here.

45 thoughts on “Life Turns on a Dime

  1. Dear J.A. Janice, So hard to hear about your sweet gal. Glad she made it through surgery and is recuperating. Know it’s going to be a big adjustment, but you have her with you. Last Saturday I took my precious Ginger Rose (calico cat and the sister of her brother my Frederico) to the vet because she seemed to be having breathing problems. Well her little lungs were full of fluid. and discovered she had heart failure, which could not be treated. That’s evidently the way heart failure happens in cats, and so I have lost my little companion. Her brother and I have been grieving, and will miss her always. Losing our pets or having them be ill is one of the most difficult experiences. Hug your baby and enjoy your time with her.

    • Thank you. It’s rough. I understand how difficult it is for you when our babies can’t really tell us what’s wrong. Have a grieving brother cat here with me so trying to give him what attention he needs too. Hope the healing and recovery goes well.

    • I am so sorry that you lost your baby. Even when it is the only choice, it is a hard one. May you happy memories ease your loss in time.

      • Happy to hear that JoJo is still here and recovering her spunk. I wish her and you the best possible outcome.

        I hope you will write a letter to the surgical office detailing your experience in detail and send your vet a copy. That type of treatment does neither business any good. If you don’t get any satisfaction from their office then leave a negative review which will get their attention. People hospitals send out surveys about your stay experience to improve their service, a vet should do the same. Our pets are family members not just “animals.” Shame on them.

  2. Prayers and blessings for JoJo and all of you. Having a sick or infirm animal family member is not easy. Bless their hearts, they cannot tell us what is wrong and it is their nature to endure without upsetting us. I love you for being loving fur parents!
    We know which vet clinic and receptionist is getting undesirables in their stockings on Christmas Eve!

  3. My prayers for Jojo’s recovery. What a heart-wrenching time this must be for you and your husband. My step-son and his wife were here for Thanksgiving with their two long-haired mini-dachshunds. Such characters they are! So lovable and sweet, so full of high jinks.

  4. That was a heart-tugging story, but so glad she made it through. Loving a family member of the fur variety is a challenge to begin with, but adding medical issues will simply tear your heart, mind, and soul into pieces we never hope to deal with…ever. Whatever Jojo’s future brings, I hope her days are spent knowing how much she is truly loved by the two of you.
    As always, thank you for sharing your life with your readers.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

  5. Wow, that brought tears to my eyes. The thought of losing our Ms. Kitty at some point is almost more than my husband or I can bear. I am happy to hear that the 4 of you will still have some time left. We just do what we have to do. Merry Christmas to you all.

  6. DVDD is unfortunately common with doxies. There is a blog, Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund, that details his onset, treatment, and recovery. You may enjoy the blog as well — he was a People’s Choice animal of the year. Thinking of you and Jojo and wishing you the best.

  7. I am so sorry to hear about JoJo. Poor baby! You may want to get in touch with Lisa Scottoline. She had a dog that had problems with it’s hind legs and wore diapers. Her puppy was fitted with a ‘wheel chair’ device that allowed the puppy some mobility. She has I believe, King Charles spaniels. Keep us posted on her recovery! I have an eldery cat who is not in the best of health. He is the last of our cats and connection with my husband who passed away 15 years ago. It’s always difficult when a pet is ill especially because they don’t know what’s going on.

  8. J , B and Jojo, I knew something was not good in your family. I am so sorry that all of you lived through those more than difficult days and nights. I hope that Jojo’s quality of life improves. The person you dealt with at that office should not have that job. Their job is to care for the human as well as the animal part of the family group. Healing thoughts and prayers being sent out for all of you. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  9. This blog broke my heart. So very sorry. Our fur babies always leave us long before we’re ready, but JoJo is sure to be appreciating her loving, caring parents right now in what time she has left. We try to keep our fur family members in our lives, sometimes longer than we really should, but it’s so very hard to say good bye. Caring and loving thoughts to you and your husband during this difficult time. Another reason I love reading your books is that you put your whole self into them with life experiences that in one way or another affect many of us, especially your faithful readers. I know you’ll give JoJo all the comfort she deserves until it is time to say good bye. Although I was saddened by this blog, it makes me realize why you are truly one of the most wonderful story tellers out there.

  10. Hoping Jojo continues to improve. Having faced pet emergencies multiple times, I’ve learned the blessing of Care Credit. Allows you to pay off that surgical bill over time, no interest. Also, new to me, is that offers coupons to help with pet medication costs. Our pup’s monthly meds would have been $300+. GoodRx took it down to $129. (Works for people meds too)
    As a vet tech, I agree with others, the front desk person should get some sensitivity training, or find another job. Not getting proper instruction on how to do post surgical care is severely negligent. Thankfully, you did the right thing getting her the surgery! Healing will take time, however she WILL heal!

    • I did not realize the GoodRx helped with pet meds! There have been times when even a dime would have helped. Thanks for the info. Positive words from you helped too!

  11. We sent our 17 year old Chihuahua, Ginger, to doggie heaven in April. Same symptoms, but we decided we were keeping her ticking for ourselves and she was in such pain and would not get better.
    We had been able to get one medication in liquid form that was easier to administer but the other had to be poked down her gullet past the gag reflex. Nasty. Then one night it fell on the floor. Put her down to pick it up and she snarfed it right up!
    At 9 p.m. she’d come whining for her her hated meds.
    Little bugger. Miss her still.

  12. Hope your little Jo-Jo continues to recover, it is so hard when they are sick. I think the gal at the vet’s office should be a villian, she was too mean to be a victim. Give her a hug from me and we will all pray for a Christmas miracle for her.

  13. Thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story with all of us. Jo-Jo was so lucky she came into your lives and now so fortunate to have such loving caregivers. I think we all know you will do what is best for her, as hard as that may be.
    I too think the rude vet office witch would make an ideal villain. Looking forward to meeting her again in another story, this one being fiction of course!
    Christmas can sometimes be bittersweet, but I can always find hope. I hope you and your family will as well. Peace.

  14. I am glad to hear that you still have her with you and pray that she keeps improving. It is a tough balance between knowing that she wants to be with you as much as you want her and making sure that she has a quality of life that is fair. May the decision to keep going be an easy one and may your holiday be a joyful one.
    I probably needed to cry any way and these were happy tears.

  15. Sorry that JoJo is having such a rough time. They should have shown you how to express her bladder. I’ll try to explain, although it’s MUCH easier to show someone “hands on” for proper hand placement (We once had a chocolate Lab – retired drug dog – with nerve damage who towards the end couldn’t pee by herself, so I had to help her.) It’s pretty much a two-handed job. Put one hand under her belly, between the hind legs, and the other on her back, around the hip area. while pressing GENTLY on her back (provides stability and resistance) with the “belly hand”, use the thumb and fingers to squeeze gently to press the urine out of her bladder. Hope the explanation helps.

  16. So sorry Jojo is going through this as well as you. My sister worked almost her entire career with vets and in pet care. She would have fired that woman in a ny minute. The vet in charge of hospital or clinic should be informed of young woman’s behavior and comments.
    On to that other painful subject – paying for it. There are a number of organizations that help with vet & medical expenses. I know there are general ones & ones for special breeds and or conditions. I think this link might get you to some for dachshunds.
    Best to Jojo in her recovery and yours. I’d look for a vet who would help with your questions.

  17. I’m so sorry to hear about the traumatic time you and JoJo are experiencing. My husband and I have not one, but two, cruciate ligament surgeries on our cairn terrier to consider as our Christmas “presents” this year.

    One of our Mesa neighbors’ long-haired doxies broke her back and had similar surgeries two years ago. She has a custom trailer to get around and is doing well. Owners had to learn about expressing her bladder. I just checked…Google express dog bladder video and you will find several. Hope that helps.

    And, I’ll look forward to reading about that vet staffer. Make her the victim!

  18. Glad to hear your fur baby is on the mend. In Aug of this year I found 2 lumps on our baby’s teats, Missy is a terrier mix and our whole world. Took her into vet. She needed 2 masectomy’s, I had no idea that could happen to a dog! Thankfully the animal assistance league was able to cover the majority of the surgery, but I dreaded her recovery. In the past when we were in vet office, you coyld hear the dogs crying as they came out of anesthesia. Not our Missy, she made a sound like a bird cooing when in pain. They brought her out to us with her stomach covered with 2 rows of staples and sutures. Missy has healed well and is still playing us for her treats and telling us she can’t jump on the bed so that we will pick her up. So now I know I have to do monthly breast exams on our pet! Hmm we just play it off like tummy rubs.

  19. I cried when I read your blog. (I’m crying still actually.). It’s so hard when our fur babies are ill. I recently lost 2 cats, both in the same week. I remember how desperately I tried to do everything to keep them alive. It was heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing.

  20. I am so sorry to hear about JoJo. Praying she will be able to stand and possibly walk again soon. I have a friend that had a doggy with the same problem. They bought her a doggy wheelchair/cart. She has used it for years and runs around like crazy.
    Amazon has them listed under Doggy Wheelchairs. Their little dog goes up and down steps with it.
    I cannot wait to see where that rude person at the vets shows up in one of your books.

  21. Dear J.A.Jance, I’m glad I bought “Sins of the Fathers” yesterday if it helps pay for JoJo’s vet bill. I read the end after the first chapter and was temporarily upset that Beau and Lucy had to split up but I trust Beau’s judgement.
    My little dachsheund Jimmy rules my life. When my husband has his stroke several years ago I had to put Jimmy into the car because I knew he would try to attack the firemen who were on their way. And then when my husband was in the hospital for several days and then the nursing home for 3 or 4 years I tried to bring Jimmy to work with me so he would not have to stay alone. I got “concerned” people putting hateful notes on my car saying how horrible I was to leave the dog in the car even though I came out every couple hours to walk him. Finally I had to leave him at home alone (Doggie Day Care some days, but that adds up!) . It was a wonderful day when I brought my husband home from the nursing home. Even though he is paralyzed and is in a hospital bed all day Jimmy sleeps on the bed with him and guards him from the evil squirrels outside and any possible intruders.
    It is astounding to me that the vet’s office was unaware of the pharmacy’s hours. I hope you changed vets and that veterinarian’s assistant found a job more fitting to her personality.
    A recent doctor’s visit involved a Hopelink driver (can transport people in wheelchairs) who has 4 dachsheunds who tried to convince me to get Jimmy a “sister”. I’m thinking about that because I think he needs a doggy best friend. Somehow even though he barks and barks at every other dog he does not bark at dachsheunds.
    Praying for JoJo
    ….Such a beauty. She is very photogenic!

  22. I am so sorry for JoJo’s pain (and yours), but glad she is staying with you. HAVING a good dog is the best! She is a beauty.

    If the evil vet tech shows up in a book, I suggest either a vic who RICHLY deserved the awful death, or the Bad Guy. If you make her a regular victim she will elicit sympathy. I’ve met plenty of people who work with animals because they do really well with animals and not so well with people, but she takes the triple-layer cake.

  23. Yes, welcome home JoJo!! Your prayers were answered and you received a wonderful gift !!! Wishing you and JoJo many good years together…Sending Christmas wishes to you and your family…May the New Year bring all of you happiness and especially good health!!! Good wishes from a grateful fan!!!

  24. Happy for you and for JoJo. I’ll say a prayer for her continued health.

    As for the woman handling the discharge, I will watch for her in a future book. Any similarity will, of course, be purely coincidental.

  25. We went through this with our 1st Dachshund Patches and when the surgery was over they showed us how to put a rolled up towel under her middle close to her backend and hold it up lifting her back feet off the ground so she could go potty. I have a leftover child’s plastic pad that has blocks painted on it, that’s what I used under her. Cheaper than anything is adult water proof pads, they come 30 for a big bag at Walmart.

    It’s with love that we go through everything we can to make our babies comfortable. Also we took turns sleeping in the floor with her and doing our Jane Fonda’s, then one day she got up and just walked across the floor, she dragged her back feet a bit and wore down her toenails, but by jiggers she walked. Did I mention that she was 16 yrs young when we has to put her down. Our last one Gabi had bladder cancer and we brought her to Olympia for treatments every week. Now we have Beau, yes named after your Beaumont in the detective series.. he is Black and Tan on top, with Piebald on the underside.

  26. Dear J. a. Janice, my wife Wendy and I have read probably all of your books. We’re big fans. But today is the 1st time on your blog, and I can relate to the love you have for your 4 legged friends, just last week we had to send one of our friends over the rainbow bridge. It broke our hearts.
    God bless you!

  27. I totally understand. . .I’ve had pups and now a cat (OMG) but when I lost a niece and a best friend since 3rd grade has cancer, I cried and cried . . .she got on the back of my chair and put her paw on my shoulder. OMG I cannot believe a cat would do that (a dog would) My little Minx (yep that’s her name) is not in my heart. I have had her over a year possibly 2. But wow. Gods Blessing on you, hubby and Pups. I know your pain. Janet (formerly FL Girl).

  28. I’m sorry your dog is having problems. It is difficult to deal with and I imagine the dog doesn’t quite understand what is going on either.

    Am sending positive thoughts your way.

  29. I am so glad Jojo recovered from the surgery. I can’t say I cried but it took me to the dark days when my 20 yr old Cat died, and I teared up. It’s amazing how much our pets love us and how much we love them. I hope Jojo continues to improve. Your family and Jojo will be in my prayers.

    As to the hospital employee, (I refuse to call her a nurse) my first thought was she should show up in a book as a very mean nurse or vet assistant but then I thought you should do as you originally thought of, make her a perpetrator of a crime. I consider most Nurses to be angels. She clearly is not one.

  30. Tuesday before Thanksgiving, my daughter-in-law was all set to take her old Dalmatian to his swim therapy as he, too, had lost all use of his hind quarters months ago. However, they ended up at the vet’s because of fluid build-up and dear old Beckam had congestive heart failture. She knew it was time for him to go, after over a year of helping him along. With a heavy heart, she made the decision (our son was away on business trip) and he went to sleep peacefully there at the vet’s office. And with that, another of our dear grand-dogs is gone, over the Rainbow Bridge to join many others. I am so glad you get some more time with your little guy.

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