Sep 22, 2015
The little boy listened to every word but said nothing. He was 12 years old, trim and be-spectacled and studying in Primary Six of the school. He comprehend what his father and the vet was saying. If his best friend, a dog he had loved since babyhood, did not get operated upon within 2 days, she would die. If she were to be operated, she might die too as the odds were stacked against her. But she might live.
This Silkie Terrier was 14 years old. If she was an old lady, she would be 98 years old in human years. She was in poor health as her blood test showed she had sepsis with total white cell count and neutrophil count way off the charts of normalcy.
I had examined her and had told Mr Tan that there would be an anaesthetic risk of her dying during surgery. "What are the chances?" the father asked. "Less than 50% based on the two criteria of old age and septicaemia. The good news is that she is not suffering from kidney disease. You will need to sign a consent form stating that you have been informed and understand the risks."
Every dog owner knows the procedure of informed consent. Mr Tan would still have to pay the surgical fees even though his dog had died. He was dealt a poor hand. The other party was the divine powers that had the good cards. The vet would represent the dealer in a casino. He would earn his fees whichever party won.
What should Mr Tan do? His son was quiet as most boys of that age would be. His mother remained silent too. He did not voice his opinion as he deferred to the head of the household.
Mr Tan hesitated: "Why throw away good money after bad? The dog had a poor chance of survival. She was aged, being 14 years old. He might not live another year. 14 years is a ripe old age for any small breed.
"There are many expenses such as the $300 tuition fees for my two children. A baby is on the way. Why spend money to save a dog? The human beings need to survive in this harsh urban jungle of rising costs every year".
The bureacrats increase the fees to justify their existence while the private sector increases its fees to retain the loyalty of the job-hopping employees who will leave for a few dollars more.
But This Silkie was active although she had eaten much less and licked her back area to keep herself clean and not dirty the home. She was house-proud and would run to the papers on the toilet floor to avoid dirtying the den when she was doing her normal peeing and pooping. Now, she could not cope with the copious flow of brownish sticky pus dripping from her vagina as she tried to run to the toilet to pee. But it was not urine. It was bacterial pus from the womb.
Only during the last one week, she had this brownish-red vaginal discharge. Non-stop bleeding. Drip, drip, drip. She just could not cope with licking and swallowing the infected uterine discharge, poisoning herself. Now her blood had bacteria as shown by the high increase in white blood cells.
A dog soiling the floor of the apartment needed the mother to mop and clean up. So Mr Tan had no choice but to consult the vet. Last year, this dog had breast tumours removed. Another vet had removed them and the fees opened a big hole in the financial pocket.
Now, there would be a medical cost of more than $500. There was a doubt that this dog would survive. So why throw good money after bad?
"Is there an injection and antibiotics to treat pyometra?" Mr Tan wanted this option. I gave the dog the IV drip, pain-killer and antibiotics as an in-patient for 2 days. She was barking wildly and loudly to greet the little boy and Mr Tan. She had no vaginal discharge.
"Her vaginal discharge has stopped temporarily due to the effects of the medication," I said to the father. "Soon, it will recur if the dog is not spayed." The father decided to bring her home.
Normally, I do not follow up as there would be considered soliciting. However, I could feel that the little boy's dog is going to die soon if there is procrastination in getting the surgery. I phoned Mr Tan.
"My dog is now lethargic and not eating again," he said. I advised immediate surgery. As this was a little boy's best friend, I decided to lower my fees to the minimum. The dog recovered, stayed one night as an in-patient and as I walked the family to their small car, I asked the little boy: "Are you happy now?"
He nodded his head and gave me his widest smile. No words. This was one of the happy outcomes of pyometra surgery. Not every pyometra case will survive an operation. Much depends on the progress of the disease. In this case, this dog had not suffered kidney failure and was treated quite early before vomiting and collapse occurred. The dog was running out of time but not out of luck. Sometimes, luck plays a part in successful surgeries as in success in life and love.