Monday, January 11, 2016

Brick Walls of Life

Brick Walls of LifeThere are many sayings, quotes and cliche of life "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade", "when life gets tough, the tough get going", or "when all else fails, pray", but the truth is we all go through hard times.  Standing in the face of fear, Service Dog Titus recently had a life threatening issue.  On December 23, Titus had emergency surgery to remove an intestinal mass that had perforated.  He was a mess to put it plainly.  

Post-surgery he was transported between his local veterinarian and the local emergency care center.  On Christmas night he was strong enough and doing well enough to come home.   We were joyous to have him with us.  Titus, being Rick's service dog, was content to be back with his human.  Little did we know, nasty antibiotic resistant bacteria were brewing in his abdomen.  On the morning of the 27th, things were critical and Titus was rushed to the local emergency center.  There he was stabilized and we transported him to NC State Veterinary Emergency two hours away from home. 

Titus underwent a second surgery and at midnight the Veterinarian Dr. Blake came to us to say he had survived, was in ICU, and the next 72 hours would be critical.   We went to a hotel to crash.  

The days ahead became a waiting game.  Waiting for word he was okay, waiting for the designated visiting times, waiting for results of pathology from the original surgery, waiting for culture results from the abdomen fluids. Waiting, hoping and praying.  A lot of praying. 

On December 29th we were faced with a new complication as Titus developed a bleed from an unknown source.  We were given a choice: exploratory surgery or whole blood transfusion. The blood transfusion was the last known medical option available to Titus. Waiting, hoping and praying again. And the world was praying and waiting with us.

Wednesday afternoon found Titus bright eyed and happy to see his person. We were thrilled with his progress.  The veterinary team told us repeatedly that one reason he survived so much was the prime condition Titus was in,  A testament to keeping your dogs fit and healthy. On January 2 we brought Titus home.  A happy new year indeed!

The lesson we learned is the power of prayer works.  People were praying all over the world and we are very thankful. Volunteers and staff stepped up to help at the office with the dogs in training.  People stopped to talk with us and give their support, friends came to take us to lunch in Raleigh, and our pet sitter worked her already busy holiday schedule to care for our dogs at home.  Hundreds if not thousands have reached out in some way to support Titus and us through this.  To the team of care givers, veterinarians  and our 4th year student, Daniel, we are forever grateful.

We also learned we need to set up an emergency fund for the service dogs we have partnered with our clients.  During this ordeal with Titus, we were repeatedly thankful the means were there to provide for his care with payment upfront. Unlike when a person goes to the hospital for emergency, when emergency veterinary care is needed a payment must be made up front before the animal receives treatment. Even pet insurance reimburses after the fact.  What if the funds were not available?  

Canines for Service will establish an medical emergency fund for the service dogs we have partnered with our clients.  The recent medical crisis with service dog Titus showed us not only how quickly emergency medical expenses add up, but also that without funds available to pay "up front" often care will not be provided.  For most this would lead to a terrible decision. For someone who depends on their service dog for daily tasks the consequences would be devastating.  This fund would be a resource to get treatment started for our partnered service dogs in the event of a life threatening medical emergency.

We cannot do this alone.  It is a cost in addition to the costs of selecting, training and partnering the service dogs.  We need your help to create this fund with a target amount of $20,000.  To support the Emergency Medical Fund #titusstrong click the button below.

And, for Titus, right now he wants to chase squirrels or play ball, help his person and rebuild his strength.