Monday, December 20, 2010

Life's cruel pageantry

We've had a bit of unfortunate news happen in the last 24 hours. Etta, one of Aspen's beautiful little puppies has become sick with pneumonia.

Beautiful Etta, named after Etta James, on her four week birthday

I came home from a very busy weekend doing dog sledding presentations at Lock 3's Winter Solstice Celebration and was trying to catch up on all that was neglected at my home all weekend. In doing chores, I prepared the puppies' meal and dished it out to the ravenous beasts!

Within minutes, Elise yelled out to me from the puppy room, "Mom, something is wrong with Etta! Come quick!"

What I found was a puppy who I thought at first was choking. I picked her up and began patting her on her little back trying to help her cough up whatever she was choking on.

But, from working in respiratory medicine at a children's hospital for seven years, I recognized right away that she was in respiratory distress. Her ribs were retracting just like an asthma patient who is in acute distress.

It didn't take long for me to head back out the door to the 24/7 emergency veterinary hospital. Her little paws clawed at my jacket the whole way while she struggled to breathe. As I handed her over to the vet tech, I broke down in quiet tears.

At only four and a half weeks of age, little Etta was intubated, poked, and x-rayed. I transported her to my vet today, who cautioned me that the prognosis was not good.

"Her lungs look pretty bad, and from what I can tell from the x-ray, it looks like she has a slightly enlarged heart," Dr Williams warned.

She is there tonight, alone, away from her mother and litter mates. She received oxygen, Lasix to remove some of the fluid built up around her lungs, and IV antibiotics.

"She sure is a little fighter," my vet remarked. At only 3.5 pounds, Etta is fighting for her life the only way she knows how: through pure instinct and a voracious will to live.

I kept myself busy today, trying to keep my mind off of Etta. But worry over her prognosis loomed in the back of my mind like a pesky mouse that would not go away. It gnawed at my psyche, filling me with anxiety, prayer and hope.

What is to be is not up to me, however.

So tonight, I dealt with the worry and the sadness in the best way I know how. I hitched up a team and hupped the dogs into the darkness for a fifteen mile run.

It was quite chilly under the nearly full moon. I watched the dogs lope along effortlessly, triumphantly, and marveled at their cheery steps and strength.

I thought of Etta and the amazing spirit of all sled dogs: how bravely, how tenaciously and instinctively they cling to life.

They fight. They run because it is their life.

My run tonight was for Etta. May she fight valiantly.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written Shannon - thanks for sharing with us. . . Little Etta is a special girl and all will be well. . . Vanessa


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