Sometimes you can’t win them all…

I recently asked my Twitter followers to share with me their stories that they felt other pet owners could learn from.

We all have experienced a disease, syndrome, incident, or emergency with our pets over the years, and sometimes there is a lesson to be learned, or information to be shared.

In this particular case I am going to share with you, the important thing to remember is that sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can’t win.

Lisa (a former professional dog walker) had an emergency situation occur when she was walking one of her clients dogs.

Lisa is the Operations Director for a Pet First Aid company called Walks ‘N’ Wags Pet First Aid. As a former dog walker, her experiences with pet first aid and CPR could have helped her in many situations, but not in the case of Lucky.

Lucky was a 75-80 pound pitbull/boxer mix. While playing in the forest with several other dogs he ran (slid?) into the jagged end of a fallen skinny tree. The tree impaled him deep into his chest and he was stuck.

I walked into the woods and discovered the severity of the injury. I called the parks board from my cell phone to see if they could bring a chainsaw to cut the tree since removing it could have caused him to bleed out. As a commercial dog walker, I had a first aid kit on my person. I immediately bandaged the wound as best as I could to support the tree and keep it from wiggling. Lucky’s gums were pale and his breathing was fast and shallow.

While I was waiting for the park staff Lucky shifted and the tree dislodged. With the help of another dog walker who had come upon the scene we packed his open wound with gauze and started the journey back to the vehicle. We put him down to check his vital signs and it was evident that they were declining. Unfortunately Lucky did not survive. As a pet first aid Instructor I fortunately knew how to perform CPR. Even with the best of intentions and training, not all animals can be brought back from such severe injuries and Lucky unfortunately passed away.

The Vet later said that he would not have been able to save Lucky himself if he has been there. The injuries were simply too severe.

His owner later told me how glad she was that it was me who had been with him in those moments. I was surprised to hear such a strange comment and asked “Why?”. She said that had she been there she simply would not have known what to do and that she felt he was in good hands with me. It gave me some peace knowing that she trusted me to do the best for her furry boy. I also realized that it felt good to have some knowledge versus helplessness when faced with such a difficult situation. To this day I still think of Lucky and he inspires me to keep doing what I do.”

In Loving Memory of Lucky

In Loving Memory of Lucky

When I first read this story, I asked Lisa what she thought readers could learn from her experience. She said that it is important to understand that in an emergency situation all you can do is your best and sometimes the vet doesn’t even have the answer.

I know as a pet parent, I put a lot of pressure on myself to control all the chaos and life threats that could hurt Rooney. I quadruple check that the stove is off, the dryer isn’t running, and I haven’t left my curling iron plugged in when I leave the house in the morning, because my biggest fear is that a fire will start with him in his crate and no one home.

I could worry myself sick when I think of all the things that threaten Rooney: mushrooms in the backyard, pools, black widows, etc. but at the end of the day, all we can do is our best.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have been in many emergency situations since I used to work at the vet hospital, and I know that I react calmly and quickly in an emergency. Its in my nature, but I still don’t have all the answers.

I have seen pets receive CPR and I have seen some survive and some not make it, but the owners always did their best in the situation.

A little over a year ago, we had a client call the hospital to say that her senior Cocker Spaniel named Marmite was not breathing and she lived 15 minutes from the hospital. The receptionist remained on the phone with her and talked her through bringing him in and tried to gain as much information as she could while we prepared for an emergency visit (depending the emergency, techs will start gathering drug doses, x-ray plates, oxygen tanks, etc.).

We quickly gathered that he had been stung by a bee and was suffering from anaphylaxis (allergic shock). We were able to treat Marmite and his breathing returned to normal. He survived, and we won that day.

When I saw Marmite’s mom I gave her a hug and I told her she did a good job. You could tell her adrenaline was still running and she was still very shocked and frazzled by what happened, but she did good.

When you work in the animal industry you understand that there will be days where your patients don’t make it. Believe me when I say that each of these patients remains with us in our work.

I 100% agree with Lisa, I think its important that we all understand that we do our best collectively for animals every day, whether the outcome is good or bad. Sometimes you can’t win, but you can always try.

This post is dedicated to Lucky, his family, and all those who do all that they can, every day, for pets around the world.

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7 Comment

  1. Reply
    March 9, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Just ran my dog thru the forest for 2 days. Thankfully nothing happened but this info is helpful. Tom mcg.

    1. Reply
      March 10, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Glad to hear Sasha is doing well 🙂

  2. Reply
    March 9, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Even with humans, all who go into a hospital don’t come out.
    Kyla recently posted…The peeps finally broke downMy Profile

    1. Reply
      March 10, 2014 at 7:24 am

      Kyla, sad, but true. The answers aren’t always there.

  3. Reply
    March 10, 2014 at 1:15 am

    This is a really important message. We can only do our best and need to be kind to ourselves when things don’t work out. As a vet I’ve had my fair share of heartache over patients who didn’t do as well as I wanted but I will always give each and every animal my best efforts.
    Joanna recently posted…Interview with Dr Lewis Kirkham, Veterinary BehaviouristMy Profile

    1. Reply
      March 10, 2014 at 7:25 am


      Thank you for stopping by! Thank you also for you comment, at times I think it is very difficult for those who work with pets to understand this concept ourselves. We take home a lot of sadness, but we also learn a lot.

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