Friday, April 25, 2008

I flew to Oregon for the annual American Whippet Club National Specialty Show. It is the first time since 1995 that I haven't shown my dogs at the National. Mama Pajama was second in the Triathlon twice, and sweet Giacomino was Best In Field when the National was in California ten years ago. Bill and I drove to San Diego from our farm in Maryland with the whole waggle, which was six whippets back then, and we had a ball. I also usually set up a booth where I sell my collars and leads and lots, lots, more. It is a grand time seeing folks I can only talk to on email groups the rest of the year, and seeing so many lovely dogs. When 600 whippets converge on a hotel for a week, it is quite the sight!

But this year the price of gas was simply prohibitive. And it is Quilt Week in Paducah, meaning that our town goes from about 36,000 to 76,000 or more. The Quilters come to town by the bus load for the American Quilt Society's show. Leaving Bill with nine dogs for the entire week when he would be extending his hours in the gallery to accommodate the hoards of visitors would not be nice. Not nice at all.

But, I needed to be at the Whippet National for the Board meeting and the Annual meeting, so I decided to fly out. I would drive the two and a half hours to the Nashville Airport, fly to Denver and then to Portland, where I would rent a car for the first time and then drive the two hours from Portland to the hotel in Eugene. Simple.

By some miracle I packed the night before. I could leave our house at ten in the morning and be allowing myself plenty of time for the economy parking option. I had already printed my boarding passes. I woke at seven just because it was time to wake. I scritched Very Old Dog on his butt, and to my abject delight, he did rollies and play bit my hand. It was a treasured game from his youth, with which he hadn't indulged me in months. He was always delighted to see suitcases, because he always went on the trip.

Downstairs we all went, out to potty, and in for breakfast. I was pouring the kibble into the dishes when Giacomino just fell down. I didn't see it happen; I heard it. And he was up on his feet instantly.

What on earth?

I continued with the breakfast fixing, and within another sixty seconds, he fell down again. This was not good. I supported him between my knees and finished fixing the bowls. I had to support him to eat, as he fell a third time while I put down the other dogs' dishes. Thinking, I was thinking.

I helped Giacomino into the kitchen to a bed. I told Bill that vestibular disease is not uncommon in old whippets, and I thought our sweet Very Old Dog might have a case. I looked at his eyes for nystagmus, and didn't see any, but then sure enough, his left eye started a rhythmic dancing pulse to the left and back, ever so slight.

"That's it, Bill. He must have labyrinthitis. Oh God, I shouldn't go." Then the sweet dog vomited his entire breakfast, and within a minute, both eyes were moving so violently that the poor guy's whole head was shaking side to side, side to side, side to side. It was awful. I called my vet and left a message with the answering service. It was only 7:12. He had gone from happy to this state in twelve minutes.

I said, "I'm going to take my shower quickly, in case I need to take him in, honey. Can you sit with him?" Bill took my place on the kitchen floor next to Very Old Dog's bed. I ran upstairs and I swear I did get wet, and soap and shampoo were both involved, but I ran back down the stairs at 7:17. What I saw stunned me. Giacomino was flinging himself over and over on the hard kitchen tile, (like a child rolling down a steep grassy hill, log rolling style) and Bill was trying to keep him still, totally without success. I gasped.

When a panicked person writes on Whippet lists that their senior whippet suddenly couldn't stand and they fear a stroke or brain tumor, I have frequently been the person who suggests that it could be Vestibular disease, and not to be too afraid. Just get the dog to the vet. That was my advice on a number of occasions. But when I saw my dear, sweet Very Old Dog flipping himself around on the kitchen floor, I was the panicked one. I scooped him up and ran for the van, only to realize that there was no way I could get him in a crate without him seriously injuring himself.

Bill still had his jammies on. He drove and I held Beans on my lap. I just knew I would not be bringing him home and I tried to be calm and cheerful for him. I tried to be. I failed miserably, but I tried.

I've mentioned on these pages that I love my vets, dear readers. I love my vets. Ol' Poke 'n Stick wasn't in yet, but Dear Doc took us right back, saying, "Don't you have a plane to catch?" I said I didn't think I'd be taking any planes today.

Dear Doc got to work examining Giacomino, and when she looked at his eyes jerking jerking jerking sideways and back, she said, "Oh you poor fellow!" She listened to the history and examined him carefully.

"This is classic, classic vestibular syndrome, Patience," she said. "He's going to be fine. Really. We'll get some meclizine in him and he will be absolutely fine. Honest. You go on your trip. He'll be fine."

And when I left at 10:30 he was already resting more comfortably. And Bill called me an hour later as I crossed into Tennessee to tell me that his eyes had already stopped moving. Completely. Bill pampered him and carried him up and down the stairs, and every time I called, he said that Very Old Dog was just fine, eating up a storm, and happy.

I got home at 1:50 this morning. It was a long two and a half hours back from Nashville. Bill was waiting up for me in the kitchen. The dogs all were asleep in our bedroom. I tippy-toed in but they all woke up. I kissed the nine noses. Giacomino was sound asleep, and looked up at me a little foggy eyed, like, "Where have you been? I've been on one wild ride!"

It is good to be home.

Hug your hounds


  1. I only like scary stories with happy endings, so thank you. I got to the end just in time, I was getting all knotted up inside. I've had two dogs go down on me because they were old and it was time, but still most upsetting. Good recovery, Mr. G. and congrats on the horse! Turns out good all around, my copy of your wonderful book came today!!!

  2. I'm very glad that he's doing much better. I always worry when something's not quite right even when I know exactly what it is.

  3. OMG, what a frightening experience! We're so glad Giacomino is okay!

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

  4. Oh the poor guy. I am glad there is medication that will help though.

  5. Oh My. You are such a good story teller that muzzer had to cry at the end, even though the ending was happy. Give VOD a big kiss for all of us. And one for the other 8 waggle members, and two for Mr. Bill


  6. Dear,dear VOD!And big BIG kudos to Mr Bill!! (and Dear Doc,too) How awfully frightening-we have never had vestibular,but I did have an old girl go down on me w/a heart problem. take care,waggle..I was SO AFRAID when there were no posts for awhile-each day is so precious with the oldsters!!

  7. hi, i came across your comment on someone else's page. hope you are having a good weekend :)


  8. omdog that must have been the scariest thing to see EVER, Mom would have died on the spot. We are so so glad he is ok and glad you got to take your trip!

  9. Until you've had it happen, you really can't appreciate how terrifying they are. Been there, done that too. I'm glad he's okay.
    Geez, we should've talked more while you were here.


  10. Oh my dog that is a scary story but I'm glad it has a happy ending. I wish Mr. G nothin' but good health. I hope you were able to enjoy your trip--and enjoy your homecoming even more!


  11. Good Lord Patience! That would have scared the peewadden out of me!!! (No, I'm not sure what peewadden is, but I hear it can get scared out of you . It has always sounded like it might be painful, also.) Soo glad Very Old Dog is ok now.
    Jamie & Sunny

  12. Oh what a SCARE! Thank goodness the vet was able to help. Which vet do you use? Are they in Paducah?

  13. Thank goodness Giacomino is okay. I bet you were so scared!

    I love happy endings!

  14. Oh, I am SO glad that Very Old Dog is doing well! What a scare! Poor doggie.

    Please give him some big hugs and kisses from me!


    Dog lover

  15. Poor guy..glad he is doing much better! Our girl has adjusted pretty well- playing sunning, and talking! Missed you while in Oregon!
    Have a blessed Sunday,
    kari & kijsa

  16. MMMMEEEEOOOOOWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  17. You're amazing!
    I would like to think that in a situation like that I would keep my wits about me but....
    The more I get to know you through this blog the more evident it is that anyone, any being, is lucky to have you around girl!!!
    So glad everything is OK.

  18. Ohhh, I'm so glad to read that Giacomino is doing ok. I was afraid to get to the end of the post for fear that it would not be good news. I'm glad you were able to go on your trip and that everything was fine at home!


  19. Hey Patience & whippets,
    I'm glad Very Old Dog is recovering.
    I had fun chating with you this weekend and I'll drop by again soon.



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