Many of you who will read this already know that our Shiba Inu, Roxie, had her leg amputated this week. As promised, here is the whole story, beginning to end.
I want to say in advance that we're not abnormally attached to our pets. We both grew up in Kansas, where putting down animals was a part of everyday life, especially on a farm. But we understand that when we bring them into our home, we have a responsibility to keep them healthy. And they're one of God's creations, too!
As I wrote last year, we gave Willow, our basset hound, to Tony's brother at Thanksgiving. Two dogs was just too much for me to handle in addition to the twins. Willow is enjoying her new home, and they love her! We were so excited to dog-sit while they went to camp last week, and we did thoroughly enjoy having Willow back with us for a little while!
On Wednesday, Tony left the dogs in the backyard when he left for work. When I came home from visiting my sister at about 11 am, Roxie was gone. One or both of the dogs had gone crazy -- unlike anything I've ever seen from either of them -- and chewed a hole in the fence, big enough for Roxie to squeeze through, but not Willow.
We searched for Roxie, hung up flyers, and knew that if anybody found her, they would call the phone number on her collar ... but by Saturday, we understood that we might not see her again.
Here's the email that I sent a few friends and family on Saturday afternoon:
Wanted to give an update on Roxie -- we got a call today from a family that had just found her behind the school that's a few blocks from our house. She had been hit by a car, probably immediately after she got loose on Wednesday. The family took her right to the emergency vet and then called us. Her rear leg is in very bad shape and has lots of maggots in the wounds, but she doesn't have any broken bones. They'll keep her at the hospital until Monday, when we'll make a decision on whether or not to have her leg amputated.
Obviously, our biggest concern is financial. We feel strongly that it wouldn't be right to put her down, since it's only a leg injury. However, all of this care will still be more than we ever expected to pay for a pet. We're really hoping that the leg will show enough healing over the weekend that we don't have to pay for an amputation. *sigh*
Then, I sent this email on Sunday morning:
Another update: after the vet started cleaning the wound last night, she decided that we'll have no choice but to amputate. Right now, they're trying to tell us that they will amputate immediately on Monday morning using their surgeon, so before that happens, we are trying to either 1) find a surgeon who will do the surgery for less, or 2) find an animal organization who has funds to help us, which we know exist. However, it's nearly impossible to reach anybody on a weekend.
We know that, technically, the surgeon can't do anything without our consent, but who knows what they'll do without it?
We've pretty much decided that if we can't figure something out, we will give Roxie to a rescue organization who can give her the medical treatment she needs. We're still paying NICU bills, and we will not go into debt to save a dog. But it's still an emotional decision.
We had paid in advance for the vet to keep her until Monday, but after I wrote the previous email, we found out that the bill for her care had gone up significantly -- and it was going up every time we asked. We had to make a decision immediately.
Tony stayed home from church while I went to church with Tony's brother and his family. He called the two rescue organizations that we were referred to, and neither was willing to help us financially or take ownership of Roxie. So he went back to the vet and told them that what we had paid so far was all that we could afford, and unless they were willing to work with us, we were prepared to euthanize her. They wouldn't budge, so they brought Roxie to Tony in a "comfort room", along with the paperwork to euthanize.
I got a text message in church from Tony saying that we were out of options, and we agreed that I would come to the vet by 1 pm to be with her when we put her down. When I was about 2 minutes from the vet -- literally within half an hour of putting her down -- I got another text message from him, saying that the emergency vet had suddenly agreed to reduce their bill in the amount of the amputation! Basically, what we had paid for her weekend of care already was what we would be paying for all of her care plus the amputation.
When I spoke to the doctor, she said that she knew in her heart that Roxie wasn't ready to go. We found out later that each doctor has a special fund that they can use to help patients, and this doctor used hers on us. We're so thankful for her.
Roxie had her leg removed on Monday, and we brought her home on Tuesday. She's doing great -- you would think she had been walking on three legs her whole life! We're happy to have her home.