I needed some help this week and it came. Our family after 13 short years had to say goodbye to our beloved Nehlen. Our black and white "Appalachian Beagle Hound," as my husband always called him, was the first dog after our marriage. He was our great experiment, gone wrong, before children and he was the light of our hearts. He was ready to leave our world and be free on a beautiful Friday evening, so as a family we let him go.
The weekend was hard. But I got a call Sunday evening that would help. It seemed there was a dog from the Logan area that had been bitten by a copperhead and taken to our Animal Emergency Clinic over the weekend. He needed a transport to our hospital for continued care, as his owners were out of town for a week.
Normally, one of our veterinary technicians will pick up animals and do the transport, but for this dog no one was available. I volunteered to swing by and give him a ride, hoping he or she would fit in my car and not have an accident in it.
When I arrived at the clinic to pick up my patient I almost could not believe my eyes.
Standing there in one of their runs was a black and white "Appalachian Beagle Hound" named Daisy. She was smaller than Nehlen and not as loud, but the markings were eerily similar. We loaded her up carefully as her bite wounds left her front leg and chest extremely bruised and swollen and off we went; me and this smaller version of my Nehlen. She was wounded and sick, much like Nehlen had been, but I knew she was fixable, which he ultimately was not.
I was determined to help this dog. It seems that copperheads are a type of snake called a pit viper along with cottonmouths and rattlesnakes. These reptiles produce a venom that alters the integrity of the blood vessels and cells, slows the blood's ability to clot and can affect the central nervous system. The skin surrounding the bite area usually swells, bruises, turns black and dies, resulting in a large defect in the skin.
I planned to provide good supportive care with IV fluids, nutritional support, pain medicine, antibiotics and tissue removal as it became necrotic. I also planned to monitor for clotting and neurological issues.
The first few days, the bruising and the swelling continued to get worse, but she was hanging in there. Some tissue did die, but on the whole it was not that bad. I sat with her daily and patted her gently because she was very anxious in the hospital. As the week went on, her wounds started to show signs of improvement she became more relaxed. Her appetite came back and soon we discontinued her IV fluids. By the end of the week she was wagging her tail at me and ready to go back to her owners.
The funny thing was that I was healing, too, that week.
I was anxious and sad and hurting early on but as time passed I realized there were other needs larger than mine that I had to focus on and fulfill. I do hope I see Daisy again down the road maybe for something simple like a vaccine or a dental cleaning. But if I don't, I know that I was successful with her treatment and she will recover fully from her wounds and so will I.
Send questions for Dr. Allison Dascoli to "Ask the Vet," Charleston Daily Mail, 1001 Virginia St. E., Charleston WV 25301 or e-mail them to askthe...@dailymail.com.