Trango almost died...
If you are a dog owner or lover then this post will likely resonate with you in some way.
For those that don't know Trango is our Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. One of my favourite areas to go trail running with Trango is Paskapoo Slopes. If you live on the Westside of Calgary and enjoy the outdoors you have probably visited the trails there at least once.
If you haven't been, image a network of forested, single track trails interlacing the hillside to the east of Canada Olympic Park (COP) still within city limits. COP uses the trails in the summer for many of their mountain biking camps and routinely the trails are full of hikers, trail runners and people trying to quickly escape the day-to-day city life.
Since Andrea and I have been together she has always wanted a dog. Growing up in a dog-less family it never really interested me and for several years we had back-and-forths over whether or not we should bring a dog into our life. In all honesty I was quite against dog ownership and the reasons that I didn't want a dog still ring true today. Having a dog makes it a bit harder to drop everything to go traveling and climbing but what Trango requires in adult responsibility he makes up for in cuteness and an unsatisfiable desire to be outside.
Being a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Trango is a little small for his breed. Typically male duck tollers are supposed to be 48-54 pounds and he weighs in somewhere around 35 lbs. I don't really think this is a surprise to us though as he was the runt of his litter. When we went to pick out which pup we wanted, I, of course wanted the cutest and most hyper dog of the bunch. Andrea, knowing that NS Duck Tollers are a hyper breed was hoping we would come home with one of the more mellow pups available but in the end I won out. We figured since I wasn't a dog person at the time that I would at least get to choose between the pups. In all honesty, I can't imagine him with another family, he runs, hikes and bikes so much that I wouldn't think a 'normal' Calgary family would be able to satisfy his hyperness.
His runtness is a good thing though, it makes it easier for us to through him in a backpack if there is every a reason to do so. Before he turned one, we would put him in a backpack to take him climbing, we didn't want him running up steep hikes being so young and perhaps effecting his development for the future. His time spent in a backpack when he was younger has made it easier to put him in a backpack now that he is older. There have been a couple times in the last few years when we have had to back pack him and he was totally ok with it. I didn't even know that dogs can get blisters but one day in the backcountry he ended up with them and we were pretty far from car. Another day he ended up in a back pack was at Steve and Ingrid's wedding in Las Vegas. We were biking the Red Rock Conservation area road before their wedding and it turns out that 12 miles on a paved road was a bit too fast for him. Going uphill he was able to stay with us but going down we were too fast. Nothing putting him in a backpack couldn't fix. He's been on several 30+km day hikes and has run a 17:15 5km. Probably faster then a lot of other dogs and humans...
Trango's needs are pretty simple. Food, running, food, clean balls, running, food, sleep and the occasional trip to the dog park. What I require from him is a little more complicated, attention, obedience, more attention and a best friend who is always interested in accompanying me on a run.
Trango has been pretty fortunate I think as far as dogs who enjoy the outside go. He has summited more peaks in the Canadian Rockies then most Calgarians, been on a few road trips to the states where he found out that the desert and cacti are a little more pokey then trees here at home. He has had the opportunity to go for a run in Joshua Tree, explore the Canyonlands of Utah, scramble up some peaks in the Rockies and chase us on our bikes in Bragg Creek. Recently this winter he came along ice climbing a few times with us and once he climbed up something he could not get down and he had his first experience rappelling too.
I feel like their should be a magazine called Dogue and he could be a regular model, he poses quite well for pictures and always seem to have expressions that are priceless. Don't believe me? Go check out his Instagram account at @trangothetoller. Yes, he has his own Instagram account and loves it.
Last June my parents came to visit from Halifax for a week in Calgary. My parents have been empty nesters for a long time now considering that I have not lived in their home for almost 20 years and as time goes on it seems like everyone eventually develops some type of medical reason to have a collection of daily pills that they are taking. Many people end up with a pill dispenser which holds their medication in a container that makes it easier for them to figure out what pills to take daily. My Mom and Dad each have one of these, now combine a good selection of pills with a container that is similar to a dog toy and where do you think this is headed?
What happened to Trango?
We had all gone out to breakfast together and left Trango at home; my parents had left their pill holders out in the guest bedroom and Trango found his way to a candy surprise....except it wasn't candy it was Aleve, Tylenol and a mixture of prescription medications. No one was to blame, probably more us for not making sure their bedroom door was closed before we left but why would you even think to put away your pills when you haven't had to think about something like that in over 30 years...I understand, I just wish that Trango wasn't such an opportunist.
Fast forward an hour or two and we were home from breakfast. Being that it was June, I was quite busy with work and I had a few showings that afternoon that I had to get ready for. When I went upstairs to my office before heading out, I found a little surprise at the base of my printer. Trango had devoured my parent's plastic drug holding containers and all their contents. Well most of the contents, he decided not to eat the pills that wouldn't kill him like the fish oil supplements and vitamin C.
Trango headed to the hospital
Having never owned a dog before I had no clue what to do. Andrea wasn't home so I called her and I could sense the concern in her voice. "What did he eat? How many? etc etc. She called the dog poison control line and we ended up rushing him directly to the vet. It turns out that 1 Aleve is enough to kill or permanently effect a dog of his size and he had eaten 5. I had never been to a vet before, typically Andrea took Trango in but she wasn't there and I didn't really know what to expect. Within a few seconds the staff had taken Trango out back with the intent of making him empty his stomach. We didn't know how long it had been since he ate the pills but we assumed at least an hour or closer to 2. The vet indicated that was quite a while and that he had likely absorb the drugs but that they would make him puke and hope he hadn't.
Shortly after taking him into the back they asked me if I wanted to see him. I had no idea how bad he would be. Trango eats his fair share of grass and pukes occasionally but not like this. He was laying on the little dog hospital bed and puking uncontrollably. I felt so bad for him, he had become my best friend and here he was laying on the table making eye contact with me and vomiting non-stop. I'm sure he was thinking "Dad why did you do this to me?" I was pretty emotional myself and worried that he might not make it based on what the vet and dog poison control had to say. Andrea was on her way but it was just Trango and I together for a few minutes that seemed like forever. I comforted him and told him he was a good dog but there wasn't much more to do as he was continually getting sick.
When Andrea arrived there was a little glimmer in his eye and some tail wagging but he was really not doing well. Following the emergency Vet visit we took him to the Animal Emergency Hospital about 45 minutes away. At the Fish Creek Animal hospital they took him inside and said that they would likely have to hospitalize him for a few days. Many of my friends at the time were saying that Vets try to rip you off and that they over charge you in anyway possible but I believe what the Vet at the hospital had to say based on the amount of drugs Trango had consumed. It was pretty obvious that he was not doing well.
I never anticipated him needing an IV, just like a human they were giving him an antidote for the amount of Tylenol he had consumed and fluids to hopefully help his kidneys deal with the toxicity of the Aleve; three days later and he was still in the dog hospital. We visited him at every opportunity in the hospital and took him on short little dog wants to the grass around the facility to let him know that we loved him. I started to think that maybe they were making him stay too long but when he came home on the 4th day it was obvious that he was not himself. We were worried that he was changed, he was not energetic and everything that made him who he was seemed to be fading. It was during these several days that I realized how much I love him and how he was effecting my life.
What was the outcome?
During this whole ordeal I never once thought about the cost of his hospital visit but it was adding up quick. Several days in the hospital at approximately $600 a day plus all the initial Vet costs, medication etc. I am fortunate to have a carrier in real estate that made it so we could pay for his bills but I couldn't imagine what would have happened if I didn't have the ability to pay at the hospital. He is my best friend and I never considerd once that there was a cost to helping him. I just wanted him to be able to come home with us, so that he could chase more rabbits and summit more peaks.
We were fortunate, within a few weeks it seemed like Trango had made a full recovery and he was back to doing back flips and trail runs in what seemed like no time. The vet bill definitely ate up all of our discretionary income at the time and made us change a few plans but Trango made it and I was happy he was home, I couldn't imagine losing him over something so silly. I always envision him chasing a squirrel off a cliff or bringing a bear back for us to fend off together, not passing because he ate a bunch of candied flavoured Aleve...
A former SEAL member's story
In the past few months I have been looking into charities that I would be interested in donating to, none have really struck a chord with me until I came across the story of James Hatch a former Navy Seal and his organization Spike's K9 fund.
James was a K9 handler as a Navy Seal and has said that he owes his life to his K9 partners in combat. Reading what happened to him overseas made me tear up a little. He was partners with Spike, a Belgian Malinois and on Christmas Eve in 2006, during a raid on an Iraqi who was known for training suicide bombers, he unfortunately passed.
I couldn't imagine how James felt; during the assault Spike was released to track down a man fleeing the scene. Spike had done what he was taught and latched on to the man's forearm, the man started to bite Spike back, wrapped him up and dived forward, crushing the dog under his chest. James, concerned for his partner started shooting the man in the back. The man was wounded but still alive, Spike slowly rose to his feet and hobbled more towards the enemy. James thought that Spike might have broken his leg but quickly noticed him coughing up blood and realized that he was shot and that he had shot him...
James scooped up Spike and sprinted to the medics in the field command center but by the time he made it there Spike had stopped breathing and had gone limp. This is the one of the reasons James created Spike's K9 fund. I feel that I can't really do the story justice. You can find the full article here.
Spike's K9 Fund: www.spikesk9fund.org
James created the organization to help Military and Law Enforcement K9s that are currently 'on the job' with a greater goal of helping them transition from being a service dog to civilian life. Similar to their human counterparts, military dogs can also have issues transitioning back into the 'real world'. The long term goal of Spike's K9 Fund is to build and maintain a kennel for former working K9s who can not return to work or who, due to their significant hard wiring, can not be re-homed.
I came across the organization because of the recent publicity the organization received after a donation from Anderson Cooper, a dog lover himself. 11 law enforcement dogs have died on the job so far this year in America and after a recent K9, Krijger was shot and killed, Anderson donated enough money to James's charity to help with getting all the police K9s in Norfolk,Virginia, tactical custom fitted ballistic vests.
With the 35 vests costing approximately $2200 each, it was quite the donation. While reading the story behind Spike's K9 fund I couldn't help but think about how sad I would have been to lose Trango last year when he was in the hospital. Spike's story really resonated with me and I can't imagine the emotions that James must have after serving as a K9 handler with the SEALs.
Shortly after reading about James's organization and the account of what happened to Spike I came across a post from my friend Jamie on Facebook. He posted about his dog Lola and how he need some help with veterinary costs and I felt like I could help someone a little closer to home.
Dog lovers, how can we help someone today?
I originally met Jamie and Faye in 2013 when they decided to leave Nova Scotia and move to Calgary. They were one of the first couples I worked with to help find a home when I was starting out in real estate. We had mutual friends from Halifax who had put us in touch and throughout the process of finding them a home we became friends.
After seeing Jamie's Facebook post, I wondered how could we help? His min-schnauzer Lola is sick and ended up in the Dog-hospital. Lola had a tumour on her liver and Jamie is trying to raise some money to help with Lola's vet bills. Vet bills can become expensive quick, I certainly understand that from Trango's hospital visit but what makes it worse is that they recently had to put down their cat George due to kidney disease. Here is what Jamie said when talking about Lola.
She is has been our family member for almost 10 years. She has a big heart, and lots of personality and spunk. Her favourite things to do is go for walks, smell the trees, and run in the grassy fields. I am really scared for Lola and her outcome.
and when talking about vet bills
It has been a bit difficult financially due to the recent influx of vet bills. In the last 6 weeks I am left with more than $8000 in medical bills.
I can relate to Jamie's situation, Trango's visit to the hospital was quite expensive last year; it is easy to understand the importance a pet can play on a person's life, especially when they refer to them as another member of their family. I understand Jamie and Faye's concern for Lola and have decided to contribute to their GoFundMe campaign. I hope that after reading this and hearing their story that you decide to help out as well. We have the opportunity to help Lola and show support for someone here inCalgary. They have spent over $8000 recently to help their pets and are 2/3s of the way to their fundraising goal for Lola; the least we can do is contribute a small amount to help them, help Lola. Visit their site by clicking here.
Next time you are giving your dog a hug make sure to appreciate the time you have with them. Today is Trango's third birthday so we are off to the trails for a run which will be followed up with some bacon and swimming. If you have a favourite 'charity', I'd love to hear about it. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org