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Last Wednesday night I was sitting on my bed eating a sandwich. This is not an unusual thing. My Italian Greyhound, Milton, was jumping around me hoping for scraps. Also not an unusual thing, until he tripped, fell off the bed and bashed his face against the corner of my dressing table.
Anyone who is at all familiar with IGs will know the unearthly screaming they do when they’re hurt, it’s indescribable. And LOUD.
He did that screaming thing and then his nose started to bleed. And bleed. And bleed. It went on for two days.
The first time I took him to the vet I was told he would be fine, that I should just keep him warm and quiet and they put some adrenaline in his nose to stop the bleeding.
The second time they tried to put swabs up his nose (he said no) so they put more adrenaline in his nostrils and told me to bring him back the next morning.
The third time they did another adrenaline treatment and told me to bring him back in two hours.
By the fourth time he was too weak to stand and was starting to lose consciousness. The adrenaline obviously wasn’t working so they kept him in to sedate him and put the swabs in his nostrils. He bled through them all. I know how much blood he was losing because it had soaked through every towel and blanket I own.
So on Friday evening the vet told me to take him to the emergency vet hospital. He was cold and limp and barely breathing. And *still* the blood was coming from his nose.
The vet at the hospital told me that they have stored blood – which has red blood cells but no coagulants, and plasma, which has platelets but no red blood cells. She said he would probably need a whole blood transfusion if he was going to survive. Whole blood could only come from a live donor. She asked if I knew anyone with a large dog who might be willing to help.
At that point I had trouble even knowing what dogs I have - three: two whippets and Milton, the whippets were too small to donate blood.
Crowd sourcing blood is not something you do very often, but within 10 minutes on Twitter my cri de couer had been retweeted over 100 times and I had three strangers ready to drive their big beautiful dogs all the way across Melbourne to save Milton’s life.
@JaneTribune hi there. I have a greyhound. I could be in Carnegie in an hour. She's about 27 kg and in good health.— Emma Lewis (@fembotanist) July 11, 2014
— Minty Green (@Bryan_Field15) July 11, 2014
— Count Sheep (@maddy_jones15) July 11, 2014
@JaneTribune theres a 23kg 3yo retriever here in Clifton Hill who will do it if necessary!— Jason Murphy (@jasemurphy) July 11, 2014
That was the point that I started to cry and felt like I’d never be able to stop. How do you thank someone for something like that? I’m supposed to be good with words, but I’m utterly at a loss.
Milton, of our three dogs, is my particular dog. He makes me laugh, walk, talk, listen, play and rest. There are times when I cannot bear human contact, but he is invariably, staunchly, always loving and comforting. Sometimes his is the only love and comfort I can take. Losing him would hurt in ways I would never get over.
All through that night, as I waited to find out if he was going to die, I watched strangers and friends, and even one or two people I know don’t like me very much, share my plea for help and offer concern and support and practical assistance.
No one can ever tell me again that social media is facile and pointless. No one can ever tell me that retweets are not genuine care or that sharing status updates is pointless clicktivism. Last night retweets and stranger’s concern saved my dog’s life and told me, in one of my darkest moments, that I was not in that moment alone.
Since then, as the realisation hits that I’ve just spent next month’s rent on hospital fees and we’ve still got days of tests and at least one more transfusion to pay for, friends and strangers have been asking me to set up a crowdfunding page so they can make sure Milton gets all the treatment he needs and we don’t end up homeless.
The day of Milton’s accident I thought I had lost my job. I didn’t think I could get next month’s rent together. I didn’t think I could pay for any more treatment if he needed it. I thought I’d be homeless with 2 teenage children and before that I would have to watch Milton die. It was a moment of sickly churning terror I hope to never experience again.
But it was only a moment, because I put my bank details/PayPal details in and tentatively sent this article out. Within 3 days those friends and strangers from the internet I mentioned above had sent me a combined total of $3,025.
Cue another flood of tears.
Milton is getting better every day now. He’s still very tired and weak, but yesterday, while I was getting dressed, he ran off with one of my socks and buried it under the couch cushions. It was one of the happiest moments of my year.
The vet says she doesn’t think there’s any reason to think it’s an ongoing blood disorder. There’s been no problems with taking blood from him since the accident, which would be the case if there was an underlying illness. He used to love eating possum poo (yes, I know) and she suggested he might have found something from a possum who’d eaten poison, or he could have just bled out too quickly and been too small to recover. Whatever the reason, she’s going to keep monitoring him for the next few weeks and, as you can imagine, I will probably never take my eyes off him again.
And it turns out I haven’t lost my job. It’s been cut back, but not so much that I can’t keep a roof over our head.
I will never ever forget what social media did for me and Milton that night. It saved his life, saved my sanity and kept us safe in our home. I will never be able to say thank you enough, I will never be able to really explain how scared I was or how much the response helped.
Oh, and next payday, I will be getting pet insurance!
NOTE: Someone pointed out that people can be terrible and it's possible that someone could do something like this as a swindle. So I've posted photos of some the bills below. Others from the last few days will go up as I can find them. And I will ring both vets on Monday and tell them they can give out details of the invoices to anyone who rings to ask.