DISCLAIMER: there are graphic photos in this post. If images of blood or injured dogs upset or offend you, please do not continue reading. Thank you.
One year ago, I had the scariest day of my life. I was in Las Vegas with three friends, celebrating one of their birthdays, and we were having a great time! A beautiful room at Bellagio overlooking the famous fountains, delicious dinners at world-renowned restaurants like Yellowtail and China Poblano, and seeing eye-popping shows like The Phantom of the Opera – The Las Vegas Spectacular and Cirque du Soleil’s Ka. So what’s so scary about that, you ask?
On our last day there, I texted my dogsitter to check in with him and to let him know when to expect me home. What I didn’t expect was that he would call me in response to my text message: there had been an accident but, “Don’t get upset. Lucy’s doing ok.”
“What sort of accident?” I asked.
“Lucy was hit by a car.”
The Las Vegas landmarks started swirling around me and I quickly felt myself losing control. Our originally scheduled flight was the next flight out on our airline to New York, so I couldn’t just drop everything and get home more quickly. I was 2,500 miles away from exactly where I thought I should have been.
My sitter was very reassuring that Lucy was fine, conscious and alert – the same dog we both knew and loved. He explained that she had slipped her harness, and took off running. After about a block, she was hit by a taxi, immediately got back up and continued to run. The blessing in all this is that she ran home. My smart little girl knew exactly where to go so that she would be safe and my sitter caught up with her there. He did everything right: he followed my (admittedly lacking) instructions to a T, contacted my veterinarian (the brilliant City Veterinary Care) and found transportation (Pet Chauffeur responded in minutes). Lucy was seen by a doctor within minutes of the accident and transferred to an animal hospital (the equally brilliant New York City Veterinary Specialists) that was better equipped to treat her injuries. The moment he was able to tell me about the situation, he did.
I called my family back in New York, and thankfully my brother could go to her, and he did. “She’s pretty banged up,” He said, “But she’ll be as good as always in no time.”
But knowing that Lucy was in very capable hands didn’t completely soothe my emotions. I couldn’t help but blame myself for what had happened to her. Why wasn’t I home for her? Why didn’t I have a more secure harness for her? Why didn’t I provide more specific instructions to follow in case of an emergency? My vacation was essentially ruined by one unfortunate event.
When I finally got home to New York (after the flight from hell – apart from my own emotional baggage, we flew straight through a country-wide lightning storm), I rushed immediately to see her, luggage and all. The attending doctor gave me a full rundown: she was a lucky girl with only a giant gash on her head, lots of road rash on her underside, and a bruised lung.
Miraculously, not a single broken bone! She needed to stay at the hospital indefinitely to be monitored, and we would know more the next day. “It’s a good thing pit bulls have such hard heads!” She said. I laughed for the first time in almost 24 hours.
Lucy made a full recovery, and came home with me two days later with only two long lasting remnants: a permanent, hairless scar over her left eye and a pulmonary bulla: a bruise on her lung that could rupture if too much force is exerted on it. Basically, this means that for the remainder of Lucy’s life, sedation is very dangerous because it requires the use of respirator. It makes something like a simple teeth cleaning exponentially more complicated. God forbid she should ever need a serious surgical procedure, this is something we would need to weigh very carefully with pre-op x-rays and many tests.
So what did I learn from that day and the past year? Well, my instructions for my dogsitter went from 1 page to almost 3 full pages, if that gives you any indication. They now include 8 emergency contact phone numbers whereas before it had just 2. I learned to be prepared for anything and to make sure anyone who cares for my dog be prepared for the same. I also learned the significance of the bond I had formed with Lucy: I will do almost anything to make sure she has the best life possible.
But most importantly, I learned that things will happen, with me or my dogsitter. I can’t restrict myself or my dog because I’m scared something bad will happen. If I did that, nothing would ever happen at all. The only thing I can really do is plan for the worst, hope for the best, and know that everything will be just fine!
And we came out of this with one other long lasting positive side-effect: the doctors of NYCVS loved Lucy so much that many of them changed their own negative opinions of pit bulls! Hooray!