“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras
I didn’t want to have a dog again after Binky died. I loved her so much, it was so hard to let her go. I didn’t want to fall in love and get attached again because it’s always painful to be left behind. But Beckham came into my life, and as unexpected as his arrival, I realized that I could fall in love with a dog… once again.
Well, Beckham wasn’t so hard to love. The first night I had him, he didn’t even cry. He slept beside me and this continued all the days of his life. He was loved by many. Patients (of all ages) come into the clinic asking for him. Some even feel disappointed when I leave him at home. He was a hit with children and was a safe playmate. He doesn’t bark (except when you withhold food from him) and he was loyal. Sometimes I feared he was much too loyal because he’d patiently wait for me by the door whenever I’m away.
And so inasmuch as I can, I take him everywhere. I take him to Friday Bible study sessions, he’s gone to dinners with me at Tipsy Pig and various locations in Timog Avenue, and he happily rides the elevator with me to work. He was my shadow and he follows me everywhere (even into the washroom). So it is very sad for me to have lost my bestfriend, my baby, my shadow…
Yes I have lost Beckham and the other day as I was leaving the clinic with my assistant, some hotel staff (Beckham’s friends) were asking for him. So I said, “He died” and the other one quickly replied, “Again?” Yes. Again. Another one of my dog died–and it’s just as painful. So in truth, it’s really hard for me to write this, but I realized his story deserves to be told.
Losing My Bestfriend
Nov 8 2017 (Wednesday). I arrived home and took my usual spot in the living room. Turned my laptop on, to write, while I had my dinner. Beckham lay on the floor beside me. By the time I was getting ready for bed, I was surprised when he didn’t follow. I was even more surprised to find him already upstairs, waiting for me by the bed. When I was finally ready to sleep, I lifted him up, laid him on his pillow, and he gave off a faint cry of pain. I immediately examined him for a fracture and checked his ears for an infection. I tried to feel around his body. No more sound came… and so we slept.
Nov 9 2017 (Thursday). I said goodbye to him to go to work and he ran after me to the gate. Everything seemed normal. But the next day, manang reported that he didn’t eat all day.
Nov 10 2017 (Friday). I took him to work and he wore his I ❤ NY shirt for the first time. He seemed fine. He usually sleeps in the clinic and meets patients at the door–he did just that. But when he didn’t eat his lunch I started to worry. I decided to feed him by hand and he hungrily took it… but when he tried to swallow it, he gave a cry of pain and puked the food out almost immediately. I tried it again several times. He also tried to feed himself on his own (out of desperate hunger, I suppose) and he puked it out again.
I finally decided to take him to the Vet. I couldn’t take it that he was weak and so I rushed him. The doctor said it could be anything. It could be a TICK BITE, upset stomach, infection…
She wanted to do a blood test and I said “Okay”. When she got the results, she saw that he had an infection and immediately gave him an IV of Amoxicillin. She gave him recovery food and said, “If he does not vomit again, he can continue his meds orally. If the vomiting persists, we need to inject it and he may need dextrose”. So when he was no longer vomiting… I felt victorious. Saturday and Sunday he took his meds. He was still weak but I was hopeful that he was on the road to recovery.
He would still follow me around, albeit weakly, but he tried his best. He wouldn’t run up the stairs when I rush to the second floor, like he usually does, so It was painful for me to see him like that. And through my pain I dutifully fed him and gave him his meds. Every hour I gave him electrolytes–I was desperate for him to get better.
Nov 13 2017 (Monday). We arrived in the clinic very early that morning so I slept (and let him sleep beside me). When I woke up at 9am he wasn’t beside me anymore. I went around the clinic and panicked because I couldn’t find him anywhere. Finally, I found him in the washroom lying frail in his own poop–and I wanted to cry but I pushed all pain aside and picked him up to clean him. I tidied the mess, gave him his meds, a shot of electrolytes, and then let him rest.
At 10am I gave him his hourly shot of electrolytes and almost immediately, he vomited a pool of blood and my heart broke all of a sudden. I wanted to scream but I quietly and hurriedly cleaned the puddle of blood before running out to take him to the vet. I was dying inside but I didn’t want to think of it. My baby just vomited blood–I felt utterly helpless.
“He vomited blood. I don’t know what to do,” and the receptionist led me to the vet’s office. She was throwing so many things at me all at once… blood test, confirmatory blood test, blood transfusion, dextrose–I was listening to her and all the while dying. I could see Beckham, frail but fighting, and our “hero” was as confused as I was. I finally asked her to write everything down and to explain them to me (one by one). As a dentist, when a patient comes to me with a problem, I offer solutions and I explain everything. I leave nothing unturned. I could be a little chatty and over-the-top but a patient can only make a decision if they understand things completely so I take my time to educate patients.
I listened to her as she explained each one. The blood test she said was to monitor the infection, and it will determine if he needed a transfusion. “Do it,” I said and she found out that the infection doubled (despite the meds) but blood levels were good so the tranfusion is unnecessary. The confirmatory blood test, she said, tells us if the liver or kidney has been damaged. “To confirm if he’s dying?” She nodded, so I answered “I don’t need to know that. What I need to know is what is wrong with him. Why does a dog vomit blood?”
And finally she goes, “It could be Leptospirosis or Ehrlichia. We can take the tests to find out for sure.” She said Ehrlichia is obtained from a tick bite. It is like dengue. Some dogs have it in their blood (from their parents) and it only needs to be triggered. Since I refuse to believe that our house and clinic is too dirty that Beckham drank rat piss, I ordered the Ehrlichia test. I asked for it because apparently the medication required is Doxycycline, and he’s been taking Amoxicillin for 4 days now.
After 2 hours, the results came out and confirmed Ehrlichia–so I asked them to start with the doxy. The vet said that if he responds well to the meds and he improves, he will survive this. She wanted for me to leave him there–for observation but I refused. At 530pm Beckham vomited blood again and I was hanging on a cliff. I was crying to my mom and sisters, “I don’t know what to do”. And my mom said, “Take him home and be ready Crix. He might die. So take him home so he can be with you.” And that’s what I did. At 6pm I signed the waiver and took Beckham home with his dextrose. I painfully drove while talking to him and he would look at me as I did.
At 9pm Beckham vomited blood again. Vomiting makes him weak and this time he laid to his side (too tired, I suppose). Our manang cleaned the pool of blood on the floor and I got a tissue to clean his mouth. He looked at me as I did so and then suddenly, his stare became empty. My heart stopped. “BECKHAM?!” I SCREAMED. “BECKHAM?!” I SHOOK HIM LIGHTLY. But he was no longer responding. I looked at his chest. It was still moving, really slowly, until it stopped. And then I knew that he was gone. Forever. My bestfriend. My baby. He has left me.
Choosing the Right Vet
When Binky died, the lesson I learned was not to let the dog out in the street too much. I never asked the yayas at home to take Beckham out for a walk. In fact when I would walk him, we wouldn’t even go past five houses. I didn’t realize that some dogs could be murderers until that chow-chow tore Binky’s body apart like a ragdoll. So there were no outdoor activities for Beckham. I learned my lesson.
For Beckham’s death I learned the importance of choosing the right vet. I had Binky for 2 years and 2 months. I had Beckham for 2 years and 8 months. In that length of time they never required special vet care except for yearly shots and grooming. I chose Pet House Timog for Beckham because it was close to my clinic and they groomed him pretty well. He never came home with razor cuts and he loved the place. They have a 24-hour pet hospital so I thought, “They must do serious stuff here, so we’re in good hands.”
My pain about Beckham’s death is this: I took Beckham in on Friday and he had been on Amoxicillin for 4 days. All the dog owners I talked to said, “Why didn’t she test for Ehrlichia right away?” She mentioned TICK BITE on Friday. Why didn’t she tell me there was a test for it? Two of my Tita’s dogs survived Ehrlichia. She took them in (on separate occasions) and the vet administered the test based on the symptoms so they immediately received Doxycycline. My patient had the same experience. She had to deal with Ehrlichia a few times and all her dogs received proper care. I am a dentist… not a vet. Show me a tooth and I’ll tell you what it needs. I trusted her to know what to do. She said blood test–GO. She said amoxicillin–GO. I didn’t know of an Ehrlichia test. She was supposed to tell me about that.
By now I’ve extensively read up on Ehrlichia. Its symptoms include: weakness, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Beckham didn’t have to vomit blood for the vet to suspect Ehrilichia. She should’ve known to test for it right away. Then maybe… just maybe… Beckham would still be alive.
You see, if Beckham died taking Doxycycline for 4 days, then I’d know his body couldn’t take the disease. But he wasn’t even given a chance to fight with the right weapons. She sent my dog to the battlefield with blanks for bullets (the Amoxicillin was useless). Just imagine, that Friday when I took Beckham to the vet, he was weak but he was still playing around. When I took him back, he was vomiting blood and slowly dying. I’m sorry… but the vet’s carelessness KILLED MY DOG!!! And so I’d like it to be known that Pet House Timog failed to save Beckham because the vet who saw him was lazy and incompetent.
Again. She didn’t have to see him vomit blood to suspect Ehrlichia. On Friday she mentioned TICK BITE–so for the life of me, why didn’t we test for that? Why? I buried my dog and he is gone forever. Believe me I want to strangle her and force her to answer “Why?”
He is gone now. Bambam is dead and I miss him everyday. Patients look for him and it’s always hard when I have to explain why. The other day I dreamt of him and in my dream he came back to life… but I woke up and realized he is really gone. He is never coming back.
They say I can fall in love with another dog but I’m scared now. I lost two of my dogs while they were still very young… and I lost them so tragically. Do I not deserve a dog at all? What’s wrong with me? I take very good care of them. I love them dearly. Why do they have to die that way?
I don’t know if I’ll ever own a dog again. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I will. Right now I don’t know yet. Right now I’m still missing Beckham terribly. Hoping he would be beside me on his pillow. Thinking he would on the seat beside me in the car. Imagining he is waiting for me on the other side of the door. I miss him so much… it hurts.