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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Kennel Saga


The above is the condition Steeler is normally in
              

So much to do! So much to do!  Pete and I were going on the vacation of a lifetime! Our very first cruise! Bermuda bound!

As it got closer to our departure I sat glued to the TV and monitored the upcoming weather in PA for the following week. UGH, hotter and more humid! Since I would soon be leaving I was hoping the weather would cool down a bit for the dogs.   With the knowledge of the hot weather to come I drove my hubby and son nuts by nagging them regarding the remaining AC unit which needed to be brought up from the basement and installed.  (Thank you Jason for doing that for me!)

 I get a bit anxious when I know my pups are going to be left behind and given the amount of dogs that I have I want everything to go smoothly for the person who will be coming into my home to care for them. If it runs smoothly for the caretaker, then I know that the dogs will be properly cared for and hopefully that caretaker won’t mind watching them the next time I need someone.  

Only one week left before we set sail! 
1)  AC in windows, up and running. ~check
2)  Copies of instructions and contact numbers for all involved including the boarding facility where Steeler and Bentley will be. ~ check 
3) Food, both canned and dry for home and for the boarding facility ~ Check
4)  Copies of Shot Records ~ Check
5)  Written copies of dog ailments and allergies~ Check
6)  Instructions on care and medicine~ Check
7)  Automatic water hook up~ check
8)  Multiple filled gallons of water throughout the house~ check
9)  Towels, drool cloths, extra leashes, and tethers in dog closet~ check
10) Written permission for my dog sitter to seek medical care for any of my dogs if needed~ Check  

Whew I am ready!

All Aboard To Set Sail!

 Day one: On the ship: Extremely exciting! A trip of a lifetime!  The first time I have ever seen the Statue of Liberty! Odd for a former New Yorker I know!
Day Two: Food, food, and more food, variety shows, and Black Jack! 
 Day Three: Lots of shows, gambling, and smooth sailing, oh and more food, food, food!
Day four: Beach time for some, however for me due to the stitches in my arm, water fun was out, so time to visit the shops and pick up trinkets, but first I needed to check in on the home front now that the boat is docked and we finally have cell phone connections.

Ring. Ring. Ring. The phone echoed in my ear. 
“Hello?” My mother answered.
“Hi Ma!” I said. “How is everything?”
“Oh, okay, uh, well, oh." she asked. "Did Jason call you?”
That’s when I knew it, something went wrong. “No.” I answered. “Why, what happened?”
“Uh, well." she said, "He’s going to call you anyway, so I guess I can tell you.”
“Tell me what?” I asked.
“Well, um, something happened to the dog.” She answered. She’s stuttering a bit now as she struggled to get it out.
“Which Dog?” I asked.
I could feel her nervousness though this long distance international roaming telephone call.
“Um, oh, ah, …she stammered.
“Chance?” I asked.  
“No.” She stammered again.
“Casey? Emma? Abby?” I asked feeling my heart pound with each name I rambled off.
“No, no, um, oh God why can’t I remember his name?” She asked. “The therapy dog, the one in the kennel.” 
“Steeler?” I asked.
“Yeah, Steeler.” She answered.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Well, he’s okay now, my mother answered, but he is at the vet.”
“What happened?” I asked again.
“Um..”  Again she fumbled, probably because of the nervousness in my own voice.  “Well, he collapsed. You should call Molly.”

And so I did.

“Ring, ring.” The cell phone echoed again in my ear only this time it had a sound of urgency!

“Hello?” Molly’s voice came over the phone.
“Molly, it’s Sally, I just talked to my mother, what’s going on?” I urged. 
“Well all my dogs are fine!” She said. (meaning the four dogs she was caring for at my house.) “But Steeler was brought in to the Vet from the kennel for heat stroke today.  I spoke to the Vet and he is okay and is on IV fluids. I spoke to the kennel owners as well.  He’ll be at the vets and I’ll be bringing bring him back to your house when Jason comes out."

 She then proceeded to tell me the events of the day.

It is my decision to be fair to all involved, that I not repeat verbatim all of what was said between us but the message was clear. 

I called the kennel after speaking with Molly to see what they had to say.
To the best of my recollection this is the story I got but again not verbatim.  

 The kennel owner said that Steeler collapsed and they hosed him down for an hour and then took him to the Vet. They tried to call the lady whose number I left (meaning Molly) but she did not answer the phone and rather than wait for her any longer they took him to my vet.

I asked the kennel owner if she had gotten a body temperature at the time Steeler collapsed before cooling him down. The answer was no.   
I asked how long he was outside in the heat and the kennel owner said, “They (meaning Bentley and Steeler) were only out for about 15 minutes” which strongly contradicted the other kennel owner’s accounts as given to Molly (and myself upon my return home). 

I again stated to her my claim over the phone as I did before I left on my trip, that even 15 minutes of any activity in 91 degree heat and humidity for this breed was enough time to cause a problem.

I then called the vet office next and asked them for information and the receptionist, after talking to the doctor, said Steeler was doing okay. I asked why he was brought in and she stated all that she knew from what she gathered by the chart, is that the dog was brought in from kennel due to possible heat stroke with a temp near 104.  She assured me again that he was okay. I told her from that point on that  the Molly was to be  the only caretaker and had written permission to make medical decisions in my absence.

This was the beginning of the end of my fun in the sun, and my international roaming continued to roam!

 Thursday near dinner time in Bermuda, the day after Steeler was brought in to the Vet's office, Peter called my son Jason to see how Steeler was doing. Jason, in the meantime, was texting Peter of the day’s events with a text that started out with,  “Dad, don’t tell mom but…"      

To me starting a conversation like that is never a good sign!

“Hi Jason, how’s Steeler?” Peter asked.
Jason was so annoyed he was speaking loudly and I could hear him over the phone's speaker starting to reply.  “Oh he’s a mess!”
“Hold on.” Peter replied. “I’m giving the phone to your mother.”
Peter handed me the phone.
“Hi Ja, what’s going on?” I asked.
“Steeler is a mess and he was loaded with maggots!” Jason replied. “The Vet office had to shave off all the hair under his neck to get rid of them.   You should call Molly and talk to her. I’ll be at the house by 11:00 and Molly will bring him home to me. She’s gonna’ get Bentley out of the kennel too and keep him at her office until I get home."
             

The story I was hearing:

  Apparently the day after Steeler was brought in to the  Vet clinic, the Vet tech was tending to him and was going to clean him up when she noticed a particular bad odor. She knew instantly what that odor was. I had no idea that maggots gave off an odor but when the Vet tech talked to me on my return home in her words, “He Stank!”

They had to shave Steeler down to the skin due to the amount of maggots she found on his neck and I was shocked when I got home to see he was shaved all the way down to his tail. To me this means there were maggots in many areas.  
 Molly had told me having seen Steeler  after he was brought to the vet’s office, that he was a real mess due to the kennel owner rolling him back and forth as they hosed him down. He was apparently caked in mud. 


Needless to say I felt someone at the kennel was not exactly telling the truth as there seemed to be more contradictions than Carter had liver pills, but until I returned home and had time to talk to all parties, I really could not sort it out.

Upon his return home Steeler  had excessive thirst for days and often lost control of his bladder inside the home so by Tuesday a blood and urine test were done to test kidney function. Thankfully at this time all is fine in that department. There is a noticeable problem with his back as he was wobbly when getting up and down upon his return home and when the Vet pressed a certain spot on his back Steeler went down.  Although doing a bit better in that department as well, he is still not 100%. 

To date, although Steeler is home, his personality is seemingly a tad off. He now is more aware of every movement I make around the home and is very clingy.  He has lost weight due to not eating anything more than a half of can of dog food daily, for the six days he spent at the kennel, hardly enough to sustain a 173 pound dog. My suspicions are that he was outside in the heat often and he was too hot to eat, unless of course it was something delicious that he does not normally get on a daily basis which would be canned dog food.  He did eat fine at the vet office according to their records, but he was also kept inside in AC so that would make sense to me.  
  
 I have written the kennel owner a letter of my disappointment in the care of Steeler after we spoke upon my return home and I am expecting some type of compensation to resolve this issue between us. I am hoping we can come to a mutual resolution.  

Those who know Steeler know that he has done much to raise money for non profit groups and charitable events, and know that he is the mascot for the County Animal Response Team along with his brother Chance. To me, his work is not taken lightly.

As well, his duties as a certified therapy dog have found him to benefit the ill or lonely who needed a touch, an ear, a kiss. He is a companion for the local elementary children who sit and read stories to him in the ‘Read to Dogs Program’ and he visits preschoolers to teach bite prevention and dog care.
  If you passed through Bloomsburg PA near the month of February 2011 you would have seen his picture on the billboard for his work at the Children’s fair.      
I will give the full story as it unfolds and as I am able. I will not at this time name the kennel as they need a fair chance to respond to my letter.    Below is what Steeler looked like when I  came home.  

Steeler after 6 days in the kennel

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