The Long Road to Georgia

We are down one Dr. this week as she is at a Veterinarian Conference in CA. The good side is we are slightly over staffed as a result. Yesterday proved that to be invaluable. I was dreading the first ” procedure” as I knew this giant ( nasty ) dog was coming in with maggots around its tail/rectum. I was expecting the worst but as it turned out it really wasn’t nearly as bad  thankfully the owners caught it in time and he was able to be clipped and cleaned and sent on his way.

We were well into our appointments by 10:30, things were going along relatively fine. Little did we know it was the calm before the storm. At 10:45 a big Fire Dept. truck pulls into our lot, out come 4-6 firemen and a man holding his dog. They all walk in at once and immediately crowd our lobby. They approach the front desk ” This gentleman is from out-of-town, he and his dog were just hit by a car, he’s fine but his dog needs medical help, will you help him?” We have to ask boss Dr, but still take them to Room 3 anyway. Both man and dog are in shock. We grab boss Dr out of his appointment and into Room 3. He does a quick assessment and orders pain meds and fluids. He explains to the man that we will probably have to send him to the Emergency Clinic but will stabilize his dog first. The firemen offer to transport man and dog and agree to wait.

While fluids are running Techs and Dr switch back and forth between appointments and Room 3. I stay with man and dog, get him a bottle of water and sit with them. His name is Jerry, her name is Kasha. Jerry tells me he is a Truck Driver, he’s only had Kasha for 6 weeks. She is a 35lb Beagle something mix. First I ask him if he’s sure he’s okay. He says yes, yes he’s fine but he is worried about Kasha. Jerry tells me what happened; Walking with Kasha on a leash, he’s crossing the street to pick up his truck from repair shop and head for Georgia with a load. A lady trying to beat traffic when Red turns Green and floors the gas, not seeing that he and Kasha are right in front of her car. Jerry ended up on her hood and Kasha was hit by front tire, he said she just kept driving. When she stopped Kasha was pinned under the back tire. He said ” I just kept yelling STOP, STOP but she kept going.” Police were there in seconds ( it’s a hang out area for Sheriff’s  with a gas/food/coffee station right there ) and as it turned out so were the Firemen. They were off duty and there in seconds. EMS signed off on Jerry but Kasha was a whole other story.

As Jerry is telling me how this all happened his boss calls him, Jerry tells his boss what happened and his voice gently shakes. I hear him say ” I’m fine but my dog isn’t, I’m at an Animal Hospital with her now.” Boss tells him he has an hour to get back on the road. So at that point I realize Jerry is about to lose his job because there is NO WAY Kasha is going anywhere in an hour and neither is Jerry. After that phone call Jerry tells me about Kasha. ” I rescued her, the first 3 months of her life she knew nothing but abuse, I took her and after about a week she started to calm down. She’s always been good with my kids and she’s become really bonded to me.” Then, “I can’t lose her, she’s suffered so much already, I want her to live a good and happy life, she’s still a baby.” So then my heart starts beating so loud that I was afraid it would literally come directly out of my chest. It felt like it was shattering into a million tiny pieces.

Boss Dr is trying to get her stabilized and to the Emergency Clinic in between the appointments that are already in hospital. Clients are informed we have a Hit by Car and seem to be very good about having to be seen sporadically. It’s pushing Noon, we’ve done a couple of x-rays, nothing is broken but there is some serious badness in her chest. Kasha’s breathing is bad, her color changes constantly. Her stats get good then crash. This goes on for hours. During that time one surgery is cancelled, one Ultra Sound appointment is pushed back, arguments with Emergency Clinic ensue. They want money up front hands down. Boss Dr is on the phone with their Boss Dr. We can’t get her stabilized. Kasha needs what they have and we can’t safely get her there. Boss Dr is the absolute BEST Veterinarian I’ll ever know, he knows what we need to do. So, we head back to x-ray/ultra sound room, another x-ray and we’re going to tap her chest and put in a drain ourselves. Desperately working to save this poor dogs life and Jerry’s heart. Once the drain is in Kasha will need 24 hour monitoring, we don’t have that and that is the ONLY reason to send her Emergency Clinic. Jerry is included in everything. He is offered to be in the room while all of this is going on. Jerry drifts in and out between phone calls with his boss and the woman’s Insurance company. Jerry doesn’t have the money to pay up front.

Time is our enemy. It’s going on 4+ hours now. Blood is filling her actual lungs, now Boss Dr and Techs have managed to get her under anesthesia and are draining the blood from her lungs, hand pumping oxygen into them. It’s failing, the only thing that could save her at this point is a Ventilator. There is not one in the city. She would have to be transported to Cornell University, 2 hours away. Not gonna happen.

Boss Dr talks with Jerry, as he has from the beginning, explains everything and Jerry understands every word. His face is red, his color gray, tears never-ending, his body shakes. I had to leave twice, I just couldn’t keep it together. That was it, over 5 hours later it was called; Kasha didn’t make it. It was one of saddest moments I’ve ever had at work.

Boss Dr took Jerry into a room and told him ” The time you had Kasha she knew love, don’t lose sight of that. Look, this wasn’t your fault and I will work with the Insurance company to get my expenses covered. I want you to know, I did everything within my power to save Kasha and I am very sorry that wasn’t enough.” Jerry tearfully thanks us all for everything we did. While Jerry gathered his things from all of the rooms he’d been in, I went to Kasha’s peaceful body, took an ink pad and stamped her paw onto a piece of paper. I found Jerry just as he was being taken by staff member Tara to his truck, crying I handed him the piece of paper, he gave me a hug, thanked me and off he went.

When Tara came back she told us Jerry was concerned about how he was gonna tell his kids Kasha was gone. She said at that point she couldn’t hold back her own tears. He thanked her for everything, shook her hand and said ” It’s gonna be a long road to Georgia” and walked away.

We let the Firemen know how it turned out. The hospital was quiet, people walked around like zombies, faces red, somber. I spent the rest of my day cleaning up and getting Kasha ready for “after care” and came home. I thought about Jerry all night, how it must have been for him to get into his truck and see the reminders of Kasha. Her water bowl, bed maybe a toy or two. I watched the clock, he must be to Pennsylvania by now…….

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10 Responses to The Long Road to Georgia

  1. This was really beautiful, but very sad. I can only imagine how hard it is to go through this all the time. When my Smokey boy lost his fight the techs and the vets were crying as well. I was surprised that they could still be so touched by the loss of a pet after being through it so many times. It takes a really special person to do what you do every day.

    • Thank you for the comment. I appreciate that you took the time to write.
      Yes, this was very sad and I hesitated to write about it. But this did happen and it affected me to the point that I just had to get it out. It was a long and emotional day that seemed to never end. Most of what the Vet’s do on a daily basis is fairly average animal hospital stuff. If it’s sick, they heal, if it hurts, they make it stop and so goes the day to day. Once in a while a case like this comes along and we all pull together as a team with one single heart beat. That’s what happened that day.
      No matter what we went through, Kasha and Jerry had it worse. In the end we all did what we could do. I try very hard not to be angry with the woman who created this disaster because she was in such a hurry. And this day I was reminded that life can change in an instant.
      I work with the absolute best people and I would take a bullet for any of them. As would they for me or my pets. It is rewarding even if the ending’s aren’t always happy.

  2. I have tears streaming down my face. Poignant and beautifully written.

  3. beebeesworld says:

    Thank you for reading my “Legacy” story. Your A Long Road to Georgia story was touching! I will follow your blog and hope you will follow my blog as well. Best wishes,beebeesworld

  4. Sophie Nussle says:

    This gave me the chills. You conveyed the emotions strongly. Poor Jerry, poor Kasha 😦

  5. jillyyann says:

    This was incredibly moving and heartbreaking. I’m in tears right now. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. You are an incredible person and so are all those you work with. I wish I could just grab Jerry and hug him.

    • Thank you J.
      We haven’t heard from Jerry in a very long time. I hope he has saved another dog (or two!). I often wonder about him.
      They make me crazy and drive me nuts sometimes but I’ll tell you I work with the best people on the planet. Probably just like you…..

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