Lessons of Road Poodles a.k.a. Why I love my vet and his staff and why you should too, a memory by Fang. Part II

23 Apr

I’d like to say this story has a happy ending. At best I suppose you could call it bittersweet. The rest of this post could be considered somewhat graphic and it’s text heavy so skip to the page break if you need to.


The toy Bea loved most of all was selected at our local pet retailer on a standard “Find Poodle Fattening food” excursion not even two days after her arrival. The goofy corduroy elephant was at the end of the row of toys. Its nondescript gray and beige body would perfectly blend with the carpet (Yes it needs to be replaced but give me a break). It didn’t stand out from the piles of colorful and loud toys my other dogs regularly ignored and destroyed but it didn’t matter to Bea.  She loved that stupid toy. She carried it. She groomed it. “Where’s Bea’s baby?” would send her into the sick-poodle equivalent of paroxysms of joy she probably should have been able to have on our modified crate rest regimen. It surprised everyone when that question managed to be prophetic.

Despite her bath Beatrice was not exactly what one could call coiffed. Working in a dog business I had easy access to groomers and a friend of mine offered to groom her for me within a few days of her acquisition. I accepted happily and that Thursday, (Maybe 4 days since her arrival) Bea was packed off to work with me and left in the capable hands of my groomer friend for a makeover. A few hours later, looking considerably better and much tidier I went to fetch Miss Bea when I got some worrying news.

Green Discharge. Possible Pyo? Vet ASAP.

I was on the phone to Dr. A within ten minutes and after a quick office visit we confirmed the worst case scenario. Open Pyo. She needs to be spayed ASAP. Scheduled the surgery for the following Tuesday, not ideal and under anesthesia the HeartWorm may kill her in surgery but it’s worth trying. More antibiotics. Take her home.

The weekend was a blurry mix of  memories and worrying. She was an unfailingly joyful companion. You couldn’t be around her and not smile. She came with me to the park, gentle slow walks and a nap beneath the Oak trees about all she could handle, Z doubling back regularly to see Beatrice was still there. She hung out in the office, politely greeting everyone who stopped to say hello, before settling back down into the Kuranda she’d decided suited her just fine. Bea was alive. Bea was happy. Bea was safe.

Pre-surgery bath and fluff. Classy girl.

Pre-surgery bath and fluff. Classy girl.

Tuesday morning came faster and slower than I wanted. I *know* I annoyed the office with my regular check-in calls but you’d never know it. Two hours after the surgery was supposed to have finished the call came in.

Dead puppies.Unidentifiable. Rotting.

She’s lost 9lbs in uterus and dead puppy alone.

The people who did this are monsters.

It would have been wishful thinking to have her home that day. She went into shock at least twice that I know of, but she rallied time and time again. Thursday afternoon the last call of that visit.

She’s not out of the woods but she’s ready to go home. Come get her.

More antibiotics. More Pain pills. A cone, a wrap, a sleeve and a doped up, silly-feeling poodle and we were on our way home. One day made it to two. She ate somewhat, took her pills and slept on the green Kuranda I brought home, next to my bed so she didn’t have to work so hard to get out of her crate. It wasn’t peaceful exactly. We had one incident of “Poodle on the Bed” which led to some panicked stitch checking and another episode of “Poodle undoes her cone repeatedly until I concede to her lady-like manners and make her a pair of pants from vet-wrap and a tank top instead just to cover her incision. Saturday afternoon, free from her shame-cone, she cuddled with her baby and groomed him before getting what would turn out to be her last meal of tripe, chicken and rice.

Bea died that night.

Caval Syndrome and probable collapse of the atria. From a dead sleep (Morbid pun unintended) Bea shot up to a stand. She came to me on the bed, licked my hand and in under a minute she was gone, though it felt like hours. It was incredibly traumatizing. I inadvertently terrorized a group of Facebook friends with a hysterical summary of real-time events as I looked for a reputable site on dog CPR with my dog dying in front of me.

I still can’t make it through the full account of what happened and I’ll spare you and myself the details but Bea was gone. She finally had enough.

In many respects this is a horrible story. There is no happy ending. Bea is not next to me with her baby, looking up at me with her happy grin. She was abused, neglected and died in a horrible and totally preventable way. I hate the people who did that to her and I hate them more now than I did when it happened. I hate that I couldn’t save her. I hate that she’s gone.

Through all of that I still have to look hard to find the good. Bea only saw the good.

I love lists. I love checking things off and outlines. I’ve never told anyone this but six months after Bea’s death I made a list, Bea’s List.

It’s short and probably sentimental but bear with me.

1. Dr. A is a wonderful vet and a wonderful person.

The bill alone for Beatrice’s care topped out around $1200. I personally paid about 30% of it. The clinic he owns donated services and funds, his second vet donated time and Dr. A put in his own money for Beatrice.

He offered to take her if I found caring for her to be too much or too expensive and she would have lived with his family as their dog.

Six months after she died, on a routine visit with Z he came in with a book and set it in front of me. “Do you know what Caval Syndrome is?” “Yes.” “You did everything you could for her. She was going to die even if I’d been standing next to her as she was dying. She was too far gone.” I promptly burst into tears but it set my mind at ease that no, the extra walks hadn’t actually killed my dog.

2. The Kindness of Strangers is Humbling and Surprising

I posted a bit about Bea on a defunct forum as it was happening. I received numerous messages about her situation including offers from perfect strangers for financial assistance. In retrospect I wish I’d taken them up on it so their gift for Bea could have been passed on to others in need.

The tiny leather-clad men who helped me drag her from the ditch.

The man in the white pickup who turned his truck sideways to block an entire direction of highway when the guy behind him was getting impatient with the dog running across the road.

So many others I’ve long since forgotten.

3. Vets are Human too

I’ve neglected to mention some of the negative experiences in this story mainly because they’re not that important. An e-vet made a mistake. Another vet asked why I didn’t put the dog down before sinking the money into her. (Really.) Conversely, I know my vet probably cried when Bea died. Some vets are just douchebags with DVMs (Unless you’re UPENN special), but most are just people who give a damn trying to help.

4. Ordinary can be important

Bea was a plain girl. She liked plain things. Simple can be elegant and ordinary things that people do matter too.

5. Always Stop the Car

Bea’s elephant and collar sit on my shelf next to the other mementos of dogs past; Mac’s leather collar, Lucy’s red nylon and those who departed afterwards Asta’s leather collar and likely soon H’s matching twin. I still get a jolt when

I walk into my vet’s office and see Miss Bea’s picture on the wall. “Helping Hand Recipient. Thank You”.

I walk by the green Kuranda bed, now outside and sometimes I swear I see her on it from the corner of my eye. Just shadows. Floaters. No Bea.

I’d like to say I think of her every day, but I don’t. Sometimes weeks pass when something silly grabs my attention and makes me think of Bea, the Road Poodle and then my heart hurts a little for what should have been and then I smile or hold back tears or both.

Two weeks. Two horrible wonderful weeks. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Someone asked me once, “Why Beatrice?” “What? She was there?” “No, why the name?” “Oh. I don;t know it just came to me. She looks like a Beatrice. Queen Bea.” It wasn’t until later that I bothered to look it up.

Beatrice: Italian form of Beatrix. Latin feminine form of of Viator. Voyager. Traveler.

Road Poodle indeed.

Bea PlayBeatrice

M the Malinois arrived about a month after Bea’s departure. His arrival had been delayed by her illness and my wonderful breeder understood and regularly checked in to ask about Bea’s condition. Now another puppy is set to arrive and April has become a month of emotional upheaval and I figured I should shove some of it on all of you since that’s what you’re here for: Fang’s emotional catharsis.


Loved and Lost. Ever Joyful.

30 Responses to “Lessons of Road Poodles a.k.a. Why I love my vet and his staff and why you should too, a memory by Fang. Part II”

  1. paigeandspaniels April 23, 2014 at 12:41 am #

    My heart broke reading this. Thank goodness you were there for her, you and the vets, and your entire support team. What you and her went through was awful, and it’s amazing that despite it all she retained her dignity and loving nature that shone through.

    Rest in peace, Bea, the Road Poodle, the Traveler.

    I hope your story reaches others, and saves road dogs everywhere.

  2. septembermary April 23, 2014 at 12:43 am #

    You’d never guess how sick she was from how happy she looks. I’m glad she got to be with you at the end.

  3. citydog April 23, 2014 at 12:46 am #

    That was a wonderful piece.

  4. tvignogna April 23, 2014 at 12:48 am #

    For a brief moment in time, Bea was loved, as any dog should be. You did the right thing for her, even though it became the ultimate heartbreak that owners eventually go through. RIP, you road warrior princess. You were beautiful in our eyes.

  5. Rox April 23, 2014 at 12:59 am #

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  6. Julia April 23, 2014 at 1:01 am #

    A truly moving story. If I wasn’t already a fan of Dog Snobs, this would cement you forever in my heart.

  7. Bonnie Cline April 23, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Oh, I am so sad. Lost my Standard Poo in Jan., from Addison’s, dx after I took him from an owner that could not handle his antics. They are unique and special, not sure if I will have another but achieved bucket list obedience titles from this strange and loving dog. Your story touched my heart as I recognized many Standard traits in RP’s saga….thank you for giving her love and understanding as she finished her saga in this world.

  8. Lucky Dog April 23, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    We’re so sorry for your loss. It sounds like Bea was loved very much by you.

  9. Janet Ledford April 23, 2014 at 1:31 am #

    Oh my 😦 So sad…
    RIP Ms Bea. We will see you at the bridge. I’m glad she had a home and love before she left this world. What a story…

  10. Karenanne Fitzsimmons April 23, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    Thank goodness you were there for her. She knew love and knew she was loved. You did the best for her.
    And for the people who put her in this position to begin with – well — they are scum and the rest of us will keep trying to clean up the messes they leave. Hope they rot in you know where.

  11. Ab April 23, 2014 at 1:57 am #

    I feel a range of emotions – how grateful I am that she had you at the end of her life, sad that she didn’t have a longer time to know what good dog owner love is, you have a vet who cares and … the thought that there is a special place waiting for the former owners (right there next to other people who abuse animals).

    • organictroll April 28, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

      Same here. The people who did this to her, I can only hope they get theirs.

  12. Ann April 23, 2014 at 2:14 am #

    Sobbing. I am so glad Queen Bea got to spend her last time on earth with you. You showed her love and gave her happiness. That simple act is in itself is a life well lived.
    I have a wonderful vet like Bea had, and I know how lucky I am, but this piece reinforced it.

  13. danewillow April 23, 2014 at 2:24 am #

    This story reminds me of our foster Dane Ebony (we called her Mable). Bred as a senior at least twice, shot by the neighbor so she lost half her tail, kept outside, and surrendered to rescue at the age of 9 because she didn’t get along with the other dogs and was leading them away. She had giant mammary tumors which we tried to remove along with her spay. The tumors ended up being highly malignant, her mammary incisions never healed and she died in our home. Bea and Mable experienced a short time of a good life and I am sure that overshadowed anything they went through before being rescued.

  14. Sandy April 23, 2014 at 2:30 am #

    So very sorry; but Bea knew she was loved.

  15. Melanie April 23, 2014 at 2:56 am #

    I am crying too. How can we be so lucky to have these critters in our lives teaching us? I am not a person who believes in gods much, but I heartfelt-aly believe in d-o-g and all the other god-like creatures that show us (supposedly superior animals) love and trust and belief in the goodness of life. Your story of Bea taught me too- that people can be good, thAt bad things happen to us, terrible things, but we have to keep the capacity for love and hope. Bea did.

  16. leestrates April 23, 2014 at 3:13 am #

    So beautifully written. RIP sweet Bea.

  17. Robyn Hendricks April 23, 2014 at 3:50 am #

    Thank you for sharing her story.

    • Connie Kaplan April 23, 2014 at 3:58 am #

      That was so sad and so wonderful at the same time…

  18. tide-eyed April 23, 2014 at 7:33 am #

    Why you gotta make people cry? Sheesh. :`S

  19. Sam Tatters April 23, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    Such a sad story, but also wonderful. Thank you for being there for Bea, and showing her that not all are like those who left her in such a condition.

  20. Joan Harrigan April 23, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    I have standard poodles, but it doesn’t matter. All dogs are special. Thank you for what you did for Bea. I’m crying, too.

  21. Sonny Laughlin April 23, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    You have to know, her 2 weeks with you went a long way toward making up for the other humans who let her down. Thank you for trying.

  22. Christal April 23, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

    I am sitting here in my office at work sobbing like a toddler. Being very involved in rescue, we see lots of disturbing things almost daily, but sometimes, every once in a while, a rescue comes along that just kind of stays with you. We had a pittie come into rescue that reminds me of Miss Bea. I was not this dog’s foster mom, but I think she managed to touch the hearts of all of us involved with this particular rescue.

    It was several months ago, one of our board members got a call from her step daughter, who was working at a local vet’s office. The vet that normally does the euthanizing for the local animal control was out, so they had brought this pitiful pittie in to have her put to sleep. Our board member told her we just didn’t have the foster space or funding to take her, but that she and our president would at least go down and sit with her and hold her while they put her to sleep.

    They arrived at the vet clinic. This pittie already had the IV in arm. It was ready to go. After taking one look at her, they just kind of looked and her and said, “We’ll be taking her.”

    They named her Gypsy, another name that means traveler or wanderer.

    Gypsy was a hot mess. You could count all her ribs. Her teeth were ground down. She had been bred over and over again. She had mange, and her skin was crispy and bloody. She had heartworms. She had rocks in her tummy. I guess she was so hungry even that sounded good at the time.

    Our president took her home. It was really touch and go whether Gypsy would make it. Our president put Gypsy in a Dane sized crate and slept with Gypsy at night to help keep her calm.

    Gypsy started to gain weight. Her fur started to grow back ,but there was still something that seemed off.

    Gypsy began have seizures. The vet speculates that her body was going into shock. She wasn’t used to have good food, so her body didn’t know how to handle it. After a day of seizures, Gypsy’s foster mom helped her cross to the rainbow bridge.

    It’s always hard when you can’t save them, especially when you have ones that were clearly fighters like your Bea and our rescue’s Gypsy Rose, but at least we both know that we gave them what we could. You gave Bea and our rescue and foster gave Gypsy more love and care than they had probably had their entire lives. Sometimes what you can give isn’t enough, but sometimes it has to be enough to know that you gave it what you could.

    Thank you for loving Bea!

  23. Marie davis April 24, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    Tears rolling down my face… I love Bea’s list.. You did an amazing thing for her and it seems she did for you as well… You were lucky to have each other… Even if the time was much too short!!!

  24. Anni April 28, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    *Dabs eyes* Thank you for being there for Bea and for writing a very moving post. You are an angel xx

  25. Becky April 29, 2014 at 4:21 am #

    I needed this story so much. You took in a dog that was in trouble and gave her a loved ending and I did the same with my Xena (Warrior Princess) but keep hearing from others “you only had her a little while” etc.. It does my heart good to know that I’m not the only one. Xena had obviously been bred many times although she was only 4 or 5, was heartworm positive and had kennel cough when we got her and the first few weeks were rough. Thanks to our wonderful vet, Dr. Bryan, and his wife who kept her on oxygen treatment at their home the 2nd weekend she survived the pneumonia and the dental made her feel better. She had 3 good months in a loving home when she died of an allergic reaction to the heartworm treatment. It’s so easy to say we shouldn’t spend the money or the time but what you gave to Bea and we gave to Xena was their life of love. My vet also paid for some of this and was with her when she died at 9:30 at night. His office wasn’t open but he was. I understand why your vet is an hour away because mine is 45 minutes away and I wouldn’t switch for anything. I’ve never had a dog with heartworm because I use prevention so it really makes me mad that we lose Bea’s and Xena’s because people don’t take care of it. It’s so much cheaper than treatment for heartworm but I guess dumping the dog is cheaper than either. Thanks for sharing this and thanks to all the great vets! Becky

  26. Adele May 1, 2014 at 4:56 am #

    I constantly spent my half an hour to read this web site’s posts
    daily along with a cup of coffee.

  27. Carl Williams May 8, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    Your story is very heart breaking. Although Bea died I have to tell you that there was a happy ending to the story, Bea died feeling loved and cared for, she spent her last days with you who showed genuine concern and compassion. You gave her a family she obviously didn’t have before, You should be really proud of yourself and I personally want to salute you for being the hero that Bea needed.

  28. kalilu May 29, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    Sniff, Wail, owwwwww! Thank you

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