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Ellie Goes to the Vet

            We put off Ellie’s yearly check-up with the Vet in July, hoping that the Covid restrictions would end soon enough that we wouldn’t have to drop Ellie off from the car window. But, alas, Covid has remained and we finally gave in and made an appointment with the Vet last month. As expected, I still had to hand my baby off to the Vet Tech through the open door of the car, with Cricket screaming in my ear, warning her sister to run for her life and/or bring back treats. The appointment went quickly, and we paid the bill, and had Ellie safely back in the car, when the Vet came to tell us that, oh by the way, Ellie would need a dental cleaning. She’d had one two years ago, soon after we’d first adopted her, and now, he said, it was time for a re-do.

“Run!”
“Why?”

            I nodded my head, closed the window, and took off my mask, trying not to think about it as Mom drove us home. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’ve heard too many horror stories about dogs dying from anesthesia during regular dental cleanings. But, bad teeth can lead to all kinds of medical issues that I didn’t want Ellie to have to deal with either, and the Vet was insistent that she needed this procedure.

            It took us another few weeks, but we finally made the appointment for Ellie’s dental cleaning and drove back to the Vet’s parking lot. When the Vet Tech came to pick Ellie up from the car, this time without Cricket nearby sending smoke signals, she had me sign a form that said I understood the risks of anesthesia. I had a much harder time letting Ellie go after that.

“Mommy?”

            Mom and I went food shopping right away, just to keep busy, but I still couldn’t block out the endless scenarios filling my brain, including complications from the anesthesia and lost teeth and then progressing to mixed up name tags and accidentally removed limbs. By the time we got home and put away the groceries, I was exhausted, but still too worried to sleep. Eventually, the Vet called to tell us that Ellie was fine, and would be ready for pick up in a few hours, but, by the way, they’d had a hard time getting the tube down her throat, because the scar tissue from her de-barking surgery had grown. It’s possible that Ellie’s attempts to bark along with her sister have been irritating her throat and exacerbating the scar tissue from the surgery done by her breeder long ago (which is unspeakable). That could also explain the proliferation of her snoring habit, which has become operatic of late. The Vet said not to worry about the scar tissue, which of course made me worry about the scar tissue more, but knowing that Ellie had survived this procedure was enough of a relief that I was able to sleep for a while, with only a few nightmares about Ellie losing her voice to an evil wizard.

“Did you say something?”

            We brought Cricket with us to pick up Ellie, because leaving her at home that morning had not gone over well, and as soon as Ellie was brought to the car she was placed on her grandma’s lap, blurry eyed from the drugs. We’d already paid, and the chat with the dental specialist went quickly, and I wanted to race out of there before one of the Vet Techs could decide that Ellie needed to go back inside for some reason, except, Cricket didn’t like the seating arrangements. Cricket believes that Grandma’s lap belongs to her, so she kept trying to push her confused sister off the lap. It took a while to convince Cricket that she could be just as comfortable owning another part of Grandma’s real estate (in this case, behind Grandma’s neck) for the short ride home.

“Stay away from my Grandma!”

            In the meantime, even in her drugged haze and with Cricket’s drama all around her, Ellie managed to find the chicken treats hidden deep in Grandma’s jacket pocket and gobble them down before anyone could stop her. We’d been warned that Ellie’s gut would be a little slow for the next day or so, and that she should eat only half as much as usual, but she clearly didn’t get that message. By the time we got home, Ellie was uninterested in eating her delayed breakfast (either the kibble or the wet stuff), and she was ready for a nap. Cricket generously ate the late breakfast for her, and then took a nap of her own.

Ellie did a lot of heavy raspy breathing for the next day or so, which kept me anxious, but pretty quickly she was back to running around the backyard, visiting with her squirrel friends, eating her meals, and showing off her pearly white teeth.

“Any more treats?”

            I can still feel the worry, though, as if every time she goes to sleep there’s a chance that her scar tissue will expand and start to choke her. It’s probably an unreasonable fear, and I will likely forget how harrowing the whole thing was, until next time.

For now, the next thing on our to-do list is to schedule Cricket’s yearly check-up. I’m not sure how that’s going to work, though. She may have to be sedated BEFORE we get to the Vet’s parking lot, because the prospect of handing Cricket through a car window, to an unsuspecting Vet Tech wearing only a fabric mask and plastic gloves, instead of full armor, does not bode well for any of us. I’m sure Cricket would vote to send Ellie in again in her stead, but the vaccinations and ear cleaning that Cricket needs can’t be done by proxy, and at thirteen and a half she really can’t be skipping her regular checkups, Covid or no Covid. It’s a good thing we have a month or so before she has to go in, though, because we really need to build up our strength for the ordeal.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

100 responses »

  1. I’m glad Ellie got through the procedure relatively unscathed. Sorry to hear about the breeder giving her a debarking surgery. I didn’t even know that was a thing. That’s horrible. I’m sure glad she now has a great life with you!

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  2. Wonder if she runs her tongue over her teeth to discover no scuzzies? Can’t even talk about that other issue.

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  3. Oh, I know this all too well. I think age has a lot to do with how they manage under sedation. Several years ago I dropped both of our dogs at the vet for teeth cleaning and they over-did the anesthesia. They were groggy and not themselves for days. The last trip went better but it’s always in the back of my mind too. Glad all is well ♡

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  4. Good to know that in the end it all went well. I can sympathize with your worries and concerns. We have used the Bach Remedy “Rescue Pet”. I have used the Rescue Sleep at night and Rescue Remedy for stressful situations myself. We found the “Pet” version worked well to just take the edge off our little dog June for vet visits.

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  5. yarncraftsbymary

    I’m also glad Ellie gor through her ordeal. That breeder is barbaric and irresponsible! The girls definitely have a wonderful life with you and your mom. Hugs to both of them!♥️

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  6. De-barking surgery?? What? Who does that to a dog? I stopped having dentals for my dogs as they got older. They had too rough of a time with the anesthesia. Our vet was really nice and said she understood. Now with my cats, the vet reminds me but we drop it….I’m with you–uneasy with anesthesia. It’s risky. I hope Cricket barks for Ellie. 😀

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  7. Ellie’s teeth are beautiful! I’m glad you all made it through, Rachel. I completely understand the worry and deep exhaustion that come with those procedures. Whew…

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  8. So glad Ellie’s vet visit are over and satisfactory.

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  9. Glad Ellie is feeling better. Nobody wants to go for care these days, but health can not be neglected. Stay well. Allan

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  10. So glad Ellie’s dental went well! My pup had to go in May and I was a wreck after they dragged him away from me until I had him back home! But their smiles are worth it!

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  11. Glad Ellie is doing well. As a Mama to 3 dogs, a bark removal surgery is reprehensible. Hopefully you can rest knowing she’s happy and safe with you. 💕💕

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  12. I totally understand the angst, and I’m so glad Ellie made it through the ordeal with fine form. I lack the imagination to write fiction, but I have no trouble with my imagination when it comes to problems with my dogs. Sigh.

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  13. Rachel, The way you write keeps us running to reach the end of the story. Thanks so much! Shavua tov, my friend!

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  14. Glad Ellie’s dental visit went well. I recommend brushing her teeth every day to keep them from getting back again. I do Laila’s in the morning before we leave the room. She loves the dental wipes I use even more than the toothpaste. (which she loved) They taste great to dogs.

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  15. It is so hard to take our fur babies to the vet. Here we can meet outside the car, masked, with the dog in the leash. Annie will not go into the vet voluntarily. They have to pick her up. I did dental cleaning with my Brittany rescues until they got very old. They did not do well after anesthesia as they got older. You always have to weigh out the plusses and minuses. Hugs to your doggies.

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  16. Oh my gosh, I had to take Maverick for a blood draw so he could get his heart worm meds refilled this week and I was so stressed about handing him over! He did really well – BUT – I got out of the car and walked around the parking lot with him till the tech came out, then we walked to the door and I went into the foyer to hand him over completely. Is there any way you can do that? I didn’t go inside, just in the door. They brought him back out – barely holding on but the only place he wanted to be was inside his car, so it was all good. Also, do you brush the girls’ teeth? That would help with the dental issues down the road – of course I say that and then have to admit that Maverick hates it so I don’t do it as often as I should with him.

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  17. Don’t remember hearing about the de-barking surgery which is indeed despicable. Glad to hear the puplette pulled through without complications. Max also hates dental visits.

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  18. I’m with Ellie and Cricket, no one really enjoys these visits even if we appreciate the benefits.

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  19. Though I’d never heard of it before, to me the idea of ‘debarking’ an animal is akin to cutting out the tongues of our children! Why would anyone think it’s appropriate to silence the only way our 4-legged children can communicate??? And while I understand the precautions, handing your beloved pet out through a window to a caretaker must feel like not being able to be with them right before they are anesthetized and right when the start to come out of it. I’m so glad things went well for Ellie!

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  20. So glad Ellie is back home safe and well, showing off her pearly whites.

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  21. So glad it all went well. Love Ellie’s pearly whites!

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  22. Glad they are both okay. Sounds like it might have been rougher on you than on Ellie.

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  23. It’s hard enough for our pups to have to go to the vet. Now without our ability to be with them and the masked faceless humans they have to be alone with is so hard for them (and us!). We put off Koda’s annual check up too. It was due in September and I think I will have to give in a make an appointment. Koda’s a bit of a rebel though and she probably will be running the office Within minutes without me there to keep her “enthusiasm” level down.

    I’m guessing you have tried regular brushing of Ellie’s teeth (To avoid vet procedures) without success? Seems the smaller pups are adverse to us sticking our big hands in their mouth. My daughter’s Morky is in the same boat; will not allow her to brush his teeth. My Golden’s kind of like it.

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  24. Sorry to sound harsh, Rachel, but you worry far too much about everything! As a dog lover, I am sure you know that such tension and stress is immediately detected by your dogs, increasing their own fears. You really have to try to worry less about the Vet trips, and that will undoubtedly help both dogs in the future.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  25. So glad Ellie survived that tooth cleaning – how worrying for you. My Beloved Human keeps muttering that I need mine done but does want me put under for that – she says she’ll wait till I need an op for something else!

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  26. I’m so glad Ellie’s throat is recovering and all else went well. I do have a couple of suggestions, hoping you don’t mind. I brush my pup’s teeth with a homemade mixture of coconut oil and Neem Essential Oil. You can order both from Amazon, as well as doggie tooth brushes. They love it and come running when I ask if they want their teeth brushed. (I realize Cricket would probably not cooperate.) Just don’t be tempted to buy the doggie toothpaste, as it has carcinagenics in it. Secondly, please consider getting a titer done for the main vaccs before you put a 13 year old through what vaccinations do to a body. Most vaccinations last at least 5 years if not more, but the drug companies push the vets to do them every year. Sorry if I sound crazy. I have gotten a bit that way (sounding) since I lost Lexi.

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    • I remember when Cricket was a baby getting her first shots; she had an allergic reaction to the leptospirosis vaccine and I got really really scared. We’ve been on our guard ever since, but thank goodness she hasn’t had a bad reaction since then.

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    • I once had a vet tech call & try to get me to do a “six-month booster” and it wasn’t the first round of shots. I kept asking if she needed it or didn’t get a full dose and they just said no, the vet just suggests a booster at 6 months. I’d never heard of that before, and of course they were offended when I suggested they were looking for additional revenue. My old neighbor thinks the same vet “killed” their cat.

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  27. Always an anxious time when our babies go under. We are the same with Maggie and she has had a few doses this year what with one thing and another. Dental cleaning and nail trims were done as a matter of course so no problems there. We are lucky though that we can go into the surgery with her now. They are aware of her/our anxiety and we are always masked and gloved. Hope the girls are OK and having their treats as normal now Rachel.

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  28. I can only imagine how you felt leaving your “baby” at the vet. Daisy Mae dislikes the vet a lot and doesn’t like to travel. Glad things turned out well.

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  29. We worry more for those we love than we do for ourselves. Glad everything worked out so well. ❤

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  30. You gotta love Ellie’s narrative voice. Keep it coming.

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  31. Phew that was a bit scary , so glad she is fine . Going under scares me also for our pooch’s. They are so precious

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  32. I can totally relate. The first time I took my now about 10 year old street rescue gal for her spay, I was imagining the worse scenarios. Now that she is about 10, I worry about her getting older. She is a bit like your cricket, she hates her new coming brother 🐕 even after 1 &1/2 years, everything belongs to her, especially me!

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  33. For a minute there, I was really scared. But happy to learn she is good. Hope she feels better real soon.

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  34. That’s too bad that Ellie’s discomfort is made worse by her de-barking surgery scars. There are 2 Shelties in my neighborhood that have a breathy, whispery bark and I suspect they had the surgery as well. Dentals are no fun but important!

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  35. You had me worried as I read your post- so glad everything turned out okay. Eddie hates the Vets (he’s a Terrier, he seems to have a default dislike for most people but particularly those that prod and grope him) and he too has dental problems, we had to sedate him for his last dental procedure and yes, its such a worry, I think most dog owners share in that. I had no idea about that de-barking surgery, I didn’t even know that was a thing, that’s horrific. Dogs bark, deal with it. What a crazy horrible world.

    The irony about Ed is that our previous dog, Ben, who was pretty much always in ill health ( we lost him just shy of his third birthday, which was terrible), absolutely adored the vets, would race in there as if he just simply loved all the attention, whatever the reason and whatever the procedure. Ed could have learned a few things from dear Ben.

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    • Cricket had to go for her vet visit early, just now, and whereas Ellie could be handed through the window, Cricket had to be dragged through the door. She’s thoroughly relieved to be home now and stealing her sister’s treats, meanwhile Ellie had a panic attack waiting at home and is completely wiped out. They are such individuals!

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  36. It is scary, for sure, to leave your pets at the clinic for anesthesia but good job, pet Mum! I recently did some relief work at a nearby clinic and I am amazed at how the team (and the clients!) were so well transitioned to curbside service.

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    • The docs and techs have the whole thing set up beautifully and they are doing their very best, but it’s still nerve wracking. Cricket had to go in today and I had to warn them that she’s an anxious character. She even peed on me when I picked her up (part of the reason we moved her appointment up by a month). Now she’s all swagger, because it’s over.

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  37. After Lila’s last teeth cleaning, I’m not sure I’ll be bringing her in for one of those again. She cried and whined for hours after she came home, and she had such a pitiful look about her. It was so hard to listen to. I’m glad Ellie is doing well!

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  38. OMG so traumatic to have them go under. My terrier Dev had surgery in September for an intestinal obstruction (caused by gobbling up a rubber object on the street before I could get it from him) and filling out the forms at the emergency vet and deciding about life sustaining measures in case of decompensation was, shall we say, EEK! Glad she is well (and Dev is too).

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    • I’m so glad Dev is okay! I have been so lucky that my girls aren’t prone to swallowing random objects (though if Ellie finds chicken bones out on a walk, all bets are off). I knew a dog who swallowed rocks and branches constantly, with a smile on her face.

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  39. So sorry this was such an ordeal for everyone. We have been putting off needed visits for our dog Kota, and forget our kitty, Murray who turns into a terrified , raging lion. But it makes me think that we may have to try soon.

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  40. Glad to hear that it went well. I’ve always worried about the anesthesia with my cats, especially as they got older. I took Teddy in for a check up last March just before the virus turned everything upside down He has some tartar on his teeth, but the vet said they wouldn’t sedate him at his age. He’s 16.

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    • I’m not sure why different vets have such different views on anesthesia and age. I feel like I need a vet degree myself to make sense of what’s best for my babies. I’m glad your vet is so careful with Teddy.

      Reply

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