I Came Home From My Trip to Find My Dog Was Almost Dead

Michelle Jaqua


Last week my husband and I traveled to Arizona to visit my parents. We’ve been frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic, and needed a real break and some sunshine (our hometown is rainy, cold, and dreary in the winter). We’ve received our vaccinations and felt confident about taking a short trip.

Willow is our new furry family member that we’ve had since September. She is almost five years old; a sweet, playful, loving pit bull/mastiff mix. We’ve been sending her to doggie daycare and she’s been doing fairly well there. The dogcare also has overnight boarding, so we decided to board her while we were gone.

When I picked her up from the dog boarding around 7:30am on Saturday, she was not her usual peppy self. She looked smaller than normal, like she’d shrank. The young lady at the counter said she’d done well; Willow was anxious at first, but then after a few days she was fine. She also let me know that Willow hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning. Willow didn’t greet me as she usually did and I thought it was kind of strange, but said thank you to the lady and left.

As we were driving home, I found that Willow was not fine. She vomited a full stomach of dog food all over the back seat of the car. Once we got home, I looked her over. She looked too thin. She didn’t want to eat or drink, so I tucked her in to our bed and laid down with her (after cleaning out my car), and snuggled with her. I figured the car ride made her tummy upset and she’d recover and be okay.

Around 1pm, she was listless, still not wanting to eat or drink. Her previous owner is a veterinarian and lives over two hours away, so I texted her and asked her what I could do. She suggested I take her temperature and offer her some chicken broth. I didn’t have a thermometer to take her temp, but I had a can of chicken broth which she promptly refused.

Laying on the bed, she vomited a second time, which was only bile. She was weak and emaciated. She had difficulty walking and her eyes were glassy. I knew I needed to get her to a vet.

Since she doesn’t have a local veterinarian — she’s a healthy dog and we use her previous owner as her vet — and with the pandemic, everything here is locked down pretty tight. I called one emergency vet hospital after another, only to be told over the phone that they couldn’t or wouldn’t see her. After being refused from five different vet hospitals in our area, I called her previous owner (I’ll call her Dee), and asked her if we could take Willow to see her.

Mike and I packed an overnight bag, got in the car with Willow and drove for two hours.

We arrived in town around 4:30pm, and Dee whisked Willow away. After a couple of hours, she called to give me an update: Willow had lost a lot of weight, about 5lbs from her 58lb body, and she was critically dehydrated. Dee gave Willow IV fluids, an antiemetic, and a little “recovery food”. We took Willow and stayed overnight in a motel to make sure she was okay before we headed home.

In the morning, Willow was still not eating, but she was a little more active. We took her outside and she ate grass. She grazed on grass for quite a while which was a good sign.

We called Dee. She came over and gave Willow more IV fluids, another antiemetic injection, and gave us medication and canned food. She’s an amazing woman and a great vet. Willow looked better almost immediately from the medical treatment.

On our way home, Willow slept. Mike and I were exhausted.

Once we got home, we all slept the rest of the afternoon. Willow slowly ate one of the small cans of the dog food over the course of the day. In the middle of the night, she ate an entire can of cat-sized wet food.

This morning, she still isn’t eating dry dog food, but she ate some eggs. I made her some rice and tuna and she’s eating that too. She’s drinking water, she’s sleeping a lot. But I think she’s turned the corner.

When we were in Arizona, we loved being there so much, we talked about extending our trip another couple of days. I’m so glad we didn’t because I’m afraid we would have lost our dog and I would have been forever devastated. 
Thank goodness for intuition, and the love of her previous owner for making sure Willow is still here with us today.

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I write about happenings in the Pacific Northwest. Subscribe to my page and get my info in your email.

Lake Oswego, OR

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