A couple of nights ago, Laika freaked out. He’d been kinda lethargic all day, then, about 9 at night, he jumped up and ran headlong for the door. This wasn’t an urgent, ‘I have to pee’ kind of run but more a ‘I need to get out of this place as quickly as possible’ situation. He was banging his head against the door and dribbling urine. I was in my pajamas so I opened the apartment door and the door to the outside and he took off running.
It took a few minutes for me to get dressed and go out after him, but which point he’d been running around and getting up to who knows what. When he came back, he’d ripped off two toenails and was bleeding from there as well as from a (probably) benign growth on his head between his eyes. He came back inside but couldn’t get calm. He was wheezing and panting and desperate to get outside again. I put the leash on him and out we went.
He was a mad dog, running around and eventually getting me so wound up in the leash I literally couldn’t walk. We went back inside and then back outside twice more before he decided to stay in, but even then, he couldn’t catch his breath or calm down. It took hours before he would stay in one spot or lay down, freaking out both myself and Rasa in the process.
I had school all day the next day but made an appointment to see the vet the day after. We’d been to this vet before. Several months ago, maybe even a year or so, he’d started wheezing and being short of breath, but only in the apartment itself. We chalked it up to a variety of reasons, from mold to having to climb three flights of stairs to just being a drama queen. But as it got worse, I figured the vet was where we needed to go. The first one wasn’t very helpful so we found another place and several times, Monika drove me and Laika there (and when they requested x-rays, she drove us to the veterinarian hospital where I got to help hold him down while the x-rays and ultrasounds were being done).
At the end of all of these procedures, the lab work and the shots (both in office and at home) the result was “we don’t know.”
The best result they could come up with was collapsed trachea and we were told to just keep an eye on him. He had a small, tumor-like growth on his leg, but they didn’t say anything about it so we just let it go. When I first adopted him, he’d had a small tumor which was just a fibrous lump so I didn’t worry about this one, either.
As time went on, and we moved, he still had his cough, which would often lead to a hack like 3 pack a day smoker and involve the sounds and motions, if not the actual bile, of spitting up (and sometimes the actual bile, too). It was bad, but there wasn’t anything to do.
Then this freak out happened. And back to the vet we went.
Now here’s the problem with living in a country where you don’t speak the language. Yes, the tech who was working could speak passable English, so we could communicate, but things were lost or left out because the specialized words weren’t known. When Rasa had called to make the appointment, the vet could hear Laika wheezing in the background and wanted her to bring him in immediately. Obviously she couldn’t so they settled for the next morning, when I was able to go. In the meantime, we couldn’t sleep since his coughing was so bad it was keeping us up at night (and waking Monki).
I never saw the male vet Rasa spoke with, just the tech I mentioned above, who gave him a steroid and a muscle relaxant and said to bring him back the next day to check his progress. Work being work, it was impossible to bring him back so Rasa called to find out what she could. This is when she found out all the stuff they couldn’t tell me when I was there.
They don’t know what’s wrong with him. He might have a collapsed trachea, probably does, but the only way they can see it is under general anesthetic and there’s a better than good chance, he wouldn’t wake up from that.
In addition to the tracheal issues, there’s probably lung issues. the tumors on the outside are probably growing on the inside as well, but again, there’s no way to tell without exploratory surgery. He’s almost 16, even if they found something, there’s not much they could do.
So the doctor laid out a couple of plans: give him some antihistamines which will relax the muscles and let him sleep. Give him these three times a day (human recommendation is twice a day) so he would basically spend his days sleeping.
Or take him somewhere he could sleep outside, but with temperatures dropping below 0 and us living in an apartment complex, that’s not terribly likely.
Or think about saying good bye.
At this point, the doctor said, either of the first two options were more palliative care than anything else. We’d be treating symptoms and not the disease itself. And if it continues, then all that’s happening is he’s in pain and suffering.
So now we’re at a crossroads and I don’t know what to do. He’s on the cold medicine, but a smaller dosage, and we’ll see what happens. But damn, aside from a couple of very good things, this year has sucked royally. Cannot tell you how much I’m looking forward to putting 2016 into the rear view mirror – and would really like to do that with Laika as part of the family.