We had a terrible scare!!! Journey, our 18 month old adopted yellow lab ate rat poison. There were no sign at first. We had no clue how sick he was or would become until we heard these words from our local vet, “this is serious and can be life threatening.”
We live in the country on a 22 acre ranch surrounded by beautiful California Live Oak trees. The surrounding hills in our ranchette community are covered in pale yellow grass and contain foxtails which can be dangerous to dogs if ingested.
The Rancho Yenicita Homeowners Association repeatedly use and replenish the T bars with poison pellets without the approval of their residents. I had noticed that one of them was actually wired to our fence.
When Journey started to throw-up fresh blood, Jim and I thought he might have had a foxtail lodged in his throat. It made sense. We had been walking him off leash and he was enjoying his freedom as labs like and need to do. Thinking that he inhaled the foxtail and was trying to regurgitate, we were not too alarmed but still, very concerned.
When he repeated this involuntary action, we noticed the blood was unusual, in fact, once airborne, it was not clotting. We checked the internet and discovered that if the blood was not coagulating, meaning smooth and red, no little pieces forming coagulates, it was suspected to be poisoning.
Facts revealed that a substance called difethialone accompanied by bromadiolone and brodifacoum are rodenticides. When presented in animals that consume this or any combination of, the poison works as an anticoagulant in the system of the host and creates a spontaneous hemorrhaging which can lead to death.
National Geographic revealed a video about a dog named Willie that had undergone extensive medical care for exposure to the lethal substance found in rat poisoning. I was stunned watching this video. We had little time to waste.
My head started to spin! He was too young to die… so soon. My fears of losing him were deeply connected to my past. Having once been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) I knew I had to get emotionally grounded. It was hard. The symptoms are present and can be easily triggered when faced with the possibility of another loss. And especially after the death of our beloved Bloodhound, Sherlock HOMES, who had succumbed to a rare blood cancer…. we had waited 7 years before we would adopt this beautiful boy, a yellow lab who was nothing like Marley.
Sherlock and me. After his diagnosis of a Hemangiosarcoma in 2005, we loaded everything and ourselves into our Airstream motor home and drove to Alaska. We remained there for three months until it was time. We knew that our precious time together was running out. Our pets have a way of letting us know.And the promise we make after so many loving years together is when that time comes… to let them go.
But Journey was so young…this couldn’t be his time to say goodbye.
Jim took charge. We loaded Journey into the back of our Prius and rushed him to the Solvang Veterinary Clinic to meet with Dr. McKenzie Rasmussen. She performed a blood analysis and chest ex ray quickly to determine the cause of his symptoms. Knowing that the body bleeds internally due to the anticoagulants in the poison, his lungs were affected. She was very concerned about the results of the ex ray and wanted further tests to determine if the bleeding which can be invasive to other vital organs had begun.
She suggested that we go to Advanced Veterinary Specialists a 24/7 Emergency Pet Care Hospital in Santa Barbara. Luckily, it was a quick drive for us over the hill on the highway 154. Thank goodness, Dr. Wells and her team of assistants were waiting for Journey’s arrival.
Immediately, they hooked him up to an IV and started a plasma drip to increase his blood’s ability to coagulate. This was a crucial first step. Timing, in terms of getting immediate care would make the difference in whether he would survive.
They ran more tests, gave him and infusion of vitamin K which also helps the clotting process. Rat poison or any bate traps are lethal and kill prey. If your pet consumes an animal that had been previously poisoned, the ingested chemicals target his or her blood stream immediately. Journey became THE host and Could bleed to death.
Journey’s state of being was perplexing. He looked perfectly sound and strong. His amazing friendly disposition and attractive nature was like a magnet to Dr. Wells and her staff. His brown rimmed fur accented his sleepy cinnamon colored eyes were a sign. Dr. Wells had given him a mild sedative to take the edge off. At one point, I thought I needed one as well.
To see your pet suffer the consequences of a man-made time bomb, a lethal and unnecessary weapon of defense against nature and her animals and their habitats, is criminal.
I know there are many landowners who feel that squirrels are a nuisance, even dangerous, a health hazard, and worse can cause major foundation distress and erosion to their land and homes… but if faced with greater unforeseen challenges, the loss of their beloved family pet… you would think many would change their habitual practices of loading up T Bars filled with poisons. You would think, right?
We left Journey in Santa Barbara in good hands late that evening. Feeling very distraught and terribly sad, we prayed for his wellness. Our Buddhist faith has helped us survive the loss of our daughter to cancer, Colette, age 5 and Andy, Jim’s son from another marriage.
By the time we got home it was after midnight. We were both exhausted from our journey with Journey. Jim fell asleep quickly but I could not sleep.
The vet called in the morning and said he was stabilizing. His numbers were improving and the second plasma treatment plus vitamin K was working.
I slept most of the day having been up the entire night.
Jim awakened me to say that the vet called with better news. His lungs were decreasing in fluid meaning the blood was being re absorbed. She wants to keep him another day- but felt confident within a day or two he could return home.
We are so elated! It’s as if the special glow of light and joy that accompanies us everyday is being returned to full brightness.
The power of a dogs love is not to be judged or measured. It just is! People who can’t handle pets can’t handle life and real human interactions- dogs bind to us like DNA and predispose us to blessings and joy we can never forget. They get under our skin and infect us with the meaning of pure love.
Here is the moral to this story and incident in our lives. Animal cruelty has very wide margins and origins. From man made toxins which kill innocent rodents, to the misuse and treatment of household pets, to ignorance and acceptance of canines as protein in many countries, and to human hearts that heal and mend, time and time again, knowing that limited minds will never know the truer purpose of what love brings into our sometimes small and insignificant lives.
In a world in which chemicals flood our every existence, and cancer claims the lives of of millions of human beings, we need to Wake Up and learn the benefits of Green Chemistry and find safer organic methods in which we can mitigate our fears and phobias against natures smallest vertebrates. More importantly protect our children against harmful toxins in the environment.
It is hoped that the natural order of selection and Raptors can help to reduce the ground squirrel population. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, 20 raptor perches have been installed in areas where large populations of California ground squirrels were causing damage. Darwin’s theory on survival of species proves that Mother Nature always knows best.
A very special thank you to Advanced Veterinary Specialists and their amazing staff.
My memoir (in process) is a non-fiction book entitled Forever Sherlock A Healing Journey which I hope to share with you soon.