Saturday, September 1, 2012

Superstitious or just crazy?

Do I think last month holds some sort of personal grudge against me? Not really. Has nothing bad happened in my life in any of the other 11 months? No, plenty's happened. But the last 31 days holds a special horror for me. In case anyone's curious or even cares, here's why I'm a little superstitious (aka crazy) about the 8th calender month.

Seven years ago my hubby and I moved to Pensacola. August 20 we boarded our two Iggys, Prancer and Shadow, in order to fly to Orlando and complete our move. Eight hours after we left them at a vet we'd never used before, that vet called and told us Prancer had somehow escaped and was missing. This wasn't the first time Prancer had Houdini'd his way out of a fence and we warned them he'd try. They didn't take us seriously and put him in a run that already had gaps in it. He has a microchip, but that only helps if the people who find him turn him into a vet or a facility that can scan for microchips. 7 years later, we still don't know if he was picked up or run over, if he's alive or dead. Prancer's the first dog I ever bought--me and the hubby got him together right after we got married. We only had him a year but he was very much MY dog.

The vet offered the $500 reward, but almost two months later, there was still no news. They offered to "compensate us for our loss" by buying us a new dog. I said hell yeah. You notice how whenever you replace something you thought you lost around your house, it always turns up right after. I figured that's what would happen with Prancer. We'd get this new dog and Prancer'd show up. There was a horrible thought--3 dogs. That was just crazy.

So in October, 2005, the vet bought us Ashton, a 14 week Italian Greyhound with championship bloodlines. He cost over double the reward. I resented him immediately. He didn't snuggle like Prancer, didn't trust us like Prancer. He just wasn't Prancer. But he was all puppy. And as he grew out of puppy, he became a momma's boy. My 8 month old baby decided to take Shadow up on her offer when she went into heat. May 7, 2006, Shadow gave birth to 5 beautiful pups. We were able to sell three and were planning on keeping one, the only gray one out of the bunch. For whatever reason, no one wanted the big boy. There were two boys born. One was almost completely black so we called him Smokey. Can't have a Smokey without a Bandit.Smokey sold to be renamed Dash and the other two girls went to family friends in Orlando.

Now there were four. We thought three would be a lot, we got to see how it went with four. Shadow made it understood immediately that she was Alpha, Queen. Sasha slid right up under here and too the Beta position. The boys really didn't care. Ashton was happy as long as I was around and Bandit clung to and followed his sister every where.

For four years, the puppies played, got their shots, got cleanings done, the girls got fixed. We got to see their individual personalities, how they played in the yard. Sasha loved to wait on the porch for Bandit to come in. She'd lay low and watch him and as soon as he walked towards the screen she'd spring out at him and pounce. If they were a pack, it was in the best way.

In July 2010, I started working my butt off to buy an alienware laptop. Every extra shift I could get, I took. By the second good paycheck, Bandit was sick. He developed autoimmune hemalytic anemia. The gyst is his body decided it didn't like his red blood cells anymore and began destroying them. We put him on crazy high doses of steroids and antibiotics to try to kick him into remission. It didn't work. His blood levels got too low so we tried an infusion of blood. All that did was give his body more to destroy. Our vet called a contact at Auburn and we decided to give Bandit one round of chemo--if you shut down the immune system, you'll shut down the immune attack on the red blood cells. But nothing worked. Finally his blood levels reached critically low and we had to make a choice--give him another blood transfusion, but at a risk. His body would probably reject the new blood and it would cause total body shut down. Or, we accept that he's suffering--his paws were so swollen the skin split, he couldn't get comfortable at all the night before. We think he knew and the other dogs knew his system was shutting down. On August 11, 2010, we put Bandit down--an alert, awake puppy who loved his sister. One moment his eyes were open, his heart was beating, the next his heart had stopped and he was gone.It was horrible, absolutely horrible.That life that was right there in your arms, just gone. It's too late to try to get it back. All you can hope for is that you did everything you could. And we really think we did.

The next week at work, I made the biggest safe of my entire career. I was so focused on this patient, that at 3am when I noticed he was having major neurological and vital sign changes, I called the neurosurgeon on call, told her the patient's symptoms. She came to the hospital immediately and took him right to surgery. At 7am that morning, she called from the OR to thank me for catching what I saw. I had truly saved that kids life. That meant so much more because of everything I had just gone through with Bandit. I might have gotten a little proud, but who wouldn't. That's why I'm a nurse, to save lives.

That Saturday, I came home from work and noticed Ashton limping--his back was arched and tight and he was walking in a way that guarded him from really touching the ground with his back feet. I took him into the Vet and the vet showed me how tense his muscles around the spinal cord were. He gave him a shot of steroids and oral pain killers--he thought maybe he had a lesion on his spinal cord. I went back to work that night, checking up on him with my hubby. He told me Ashton had jumped off the couch and was walking normal. I was so happy. That was my baby, my monster, my momma's boy. I came home Sunday morning to let him out of the laundry room and he wouldn't move. His tail wagged and he turned his head towards me, but he wouldn't look at me. I took my finger and pointed at his eye, moving it closer and closer until I touched it. He didn't react until I touched his eye. I freaked. I picked him up and told my husband that I thought Ashton was blind. Within 10 minutes, he had a full left sided seizure that lasted less than 3 minutes. With it being a weekend, we had to take him to the emergency vet. Ashton seized two more times, each time stiffening his legs, arching his back and screaming. The seizure must have affected his vocal cords some way because with each seizure he screamed. At the vet, they gave him an immediate dose of valiuum and brought him into the room for us to see while we decided what tests and medications we were going to do--everything has to be decided upon and paid up front. None of the tests they wanted to run were pertinent to what was going on, so we stuck with putting our money towards medications. Long lasting seizure meds, a med to decrease pressure in the csf. I called before work to check on him, he was sedated from his meds but stable. I called at midnight, same. I called at 3am, same. They called me at 4 to tell me he can't keep his temperature up and he's seizing more. If I wanted to see Ashton before he died I needed to get there now. A wonderful friend from work drove me to the vet while I waited for my husband to wake up and drive safely there to meet me. He had at least 6 seizures after I got there--each getting progressively worse until finally they had to use an anesthetic to make it stop. I knew that if he seized through that anesthetic it was the end. There'd be no turning back. You can't intubate and sedate a dog for days until they're through their episode like you can a human. Well, you probably can, but the cost makes it impossible. When Ashton screamed through the anesthesia, chewed on his tongue and twitched despite all the medication he'd been on, we knew. We had to let him go. My baby, my monster, "Ashton's kisses make the world a better place" had to leave me. And it was horrible. I don't know if it was so bad because we had just lost Bandit 19 days earlier or if it was because he was my Ashton. We'll never know whatever it was that cause him to seize until he had to be put down. We could have done an autopsy--but we still owed our vet money from Bandit's treatment and the emergency vet bill was over $1k before cremating.

August 30 took Ashton. After Ashton, I was done. Completley, 100% done with that month. All three of my boys were taken from me in that month and I just can't accept that. Maybe I'm going over board, they are only animals. But they were my babies. We don't have kids, we have our dogs. They sleep in bed with us, snuggle with us on the couch, can sense when we're upset and offer us the comfort of their cuddle.

To put the icing on the cake, last year, in August, we were driving home around 11pm on a dark highway. A big mastiff was meandering across the road. We didn't see it and it didn't see us. We might have been able to swerve out of the way, but at the risk of flipping our vehicle. We hit him head on and the only good thing is he died instantly. I don't know what I would have done if he'd been wounded, needing help.

So this is my craziness. Some of you will mock me and I don't care. I didn't write this for any reason other than the people who've asked why I ignore last month, why it no longer exists to me. I think it's valid reasons. Now I have my superstitions, I won't take my dogs to the vet that month. I won't talk about anything bad happening to them that month. I try not to talk about that month at all.


  1. That's not crazy. That's justified. I mean, geeze!! Poor pups! *hugs all around*

  2. As a dog lover who adores my dogs more than pretty much anything, I teared up several times reading this. I'm so sorry you've had such terrible dog-related experiences in August. Hopefully September will treat you well, especially since it's a #writemotivation goal check month.

    Wishing you a very productive #writemotivation month,