Day 48: Not a nice blog post.
Today I took the two rescued puppies, Peanut and Poppy, to the RSPCA vet along with Billie from All Dogs Matter. This was not a fun trip I’m afraid.
Every chair in the waiting room was full – the average wait time at four hours. In the middle of the floor was a teddy bear face down that no one appeared to own. It seemed to sum up the mood. The bear probably made his own way there and collapsed in despair. It was number 86 in the queue…
The RSPCA vets do a fantastic, if unenviable job of dealing with all the people that come in off the street with sick animals. They charge a minimum rate and are fully professional but the place isn’t pleasant.
But they know Billie at All Dogs Matter and the two little pups got taken straight in to be examined.
It’s probably not worth you reading on if you don’t like bad news …
As soon as the young vet saw Peanut she was concerned. She tested his eyes and concluded he was blind – possibly congenitally – and his weight, at 0.35 Kilo, was so far under what it should be it was clear he was struggling to maintain strength.
‘I can’t believe he’s even a Staffy’ she said to us, looking closely at his head. ‘His skull shape and body size are much more in keeping with a chihuahua’. She was concerned that the skull shape might be an indication of something else untoward with the dog’s brain.
Oh, Peanut! Such a small dog with such HUGE problems.
Billie and myself made it clear that we were prepared to do whatever we could to save him. Anything – diet, home care, vets bills….
So the vet took Peanut off to see another vet to get a second opinion but the verdict was the same. It would be more cruel to keep him alive than it would be to put him out of his misery here and now. They were sure he would not make it and even if he did his quality of life would be so diminished ….
And in case you are wondering, this vet was probably one of the most cautious and gentle vets I have come across.
I’ve had many discussions with people about the rights and wrongs of putting dogs to sleep – after all we don’t allow it for humans (yet) and many people at dog rescue centres believe a ‘no kill’ policy is best – but for all the misery of it I firmly believe, if the case is clear cut, its the right thing to do. I held my first dog, Billy, in my arms as he was injected – after fourteen years of him being my closest most constant companion I knew the time had come.
The good news was the Poppy was given the all clear and the vet was more than happy to let her on her way. But Peanut had come to the end of the road.
I have to be careful here: this outcome was not NECESSARILY the fault of the owner who sold the dog. I’m not trying to defend anything about a woman who sells dogs in crap conditions, trust me on this, but this was the runt of the litter and often they are born fatally weak. There is no point vilifying someone for the sake of a story, although it is fair to say that the conditions and food that this puppy was bought up with could not have helped such issues.
I wanted to be with Peanut as he was put to sleep. His little leg was too small to find a vein, which was devastating to watch, so he had to be given a tiny bit of gas that knocked him out so that he could be administered the injection. I put one hand on his tiny side as he took a last, minute breath. Billie wept. The life in this dog had been so fragile and unpersuasive: it was as if a creature had been born, dipped his toe in the sea of life and decided it was too cold to enter properly.
As Billie, Poppy and myself left the building a very confused-looking policewoman came in carrying three cockatoos. She had rescued them from the apartment of an elderly lady who had passed away. The cockatoos danced around merrily in their cage while the policewoman was rigid with stress – it all felt vaguely, morbidly, Monty Python. Perhaps the birds were repeatedly chirping ‘dead woman’ ‘recently deceased’ ‘ex woman’.
Billie and I left the mad, sad house determind that Poppy would find a good and loving home.