Monday, August 8, 2011


Story #1: It started with the wild ride when my car broke down while taking a Panamanian friend and her dog to the Happy Pet in David.  Again, there was a post about that experience.

Story #2:  Last Monday, after getting the car repaired, my Panamanian friend and I made it to Happy Pet and happily found out there was nothing wrong with her little dog.  He had been losing weight because he hadn't been eating a high-quality diet.

Story #3:  Last Wednesday I took Little Bit of Sugar to Happy Pet to have her teeth cleaned.  She is my 13-year-old basset hound.  As it turned out, she is too old for general anesthesia, so Dr. Patricia gave her a mild intravenous sedative instead. This was told to me by Dr. Patricia in Spanish, but I got the gist of it.  It took three tries to find a good vein in my poor dog, then I had to lean over the examining table for what seemed like an eternity to hold Little Bit's head while Dr. Patricia patiently cleaned the teeth by hand.  No ultrasound teeth cleaners here.

Story #4:  Then last Saturday morning Molly, one of my miniature daschunds, had some kind of accident in the back yard.
Molly - the one standing on the floor -
about an hour before her accident last Saturday.
Little Bit and Chauncey (Molly's half-brother) are in
their usual positions on the couch.
I was in the house and heard her screaming at the top of her lungs.  I ran outside, only to see her running toward me as fast as she could, dragging her limp hind legs.  The only thing I could figure out is a ripe grapefruit must have fallen on her, for she was running from the direction of the grapefruit tree.  Fortunately I was able to get Molly into the Happy Pet.  She was in a lot of pain.  Dr. Patricia's English-speaking husband was there with us.  (Dr. Patricia is Brazilian and speaks Portuguese and Spanish.)  They put her on meloxicam, which is a potent anti-inflammatory and painkiller, and said they wouldn't be able to get X-rays until Monday.

Happy Pet, you must understand, is a small but clean and modern vet clinic located in a huge truck-stop service station on the Inter-American Highway in David.  I found the vet clinic-service station combination somewhat amusing, typical of how things are done in Panama.  Dr. Patricia and her husband came highly recommended to me from several people here whose opinions I trust.  Fortunately I had already visited the Happy Pet with the friend's dog and with Little Bit, so I knew where to go in this emergency.

Story #5:  Today (Monday), Molly and I went back to Happy Pet to get the X-rays.  Dr. Patricia met us and another American with his elderly dog who also needed X-rays.  She had been walking on three legs after running into a wall. Turns out the American and I knew each other, so we enjoyed visiting during the long time it took to get the X-rays done.  The X-ray unit was not on-site; instead it was in the back of an automobile garage undergoing renovation in downtown David.  We had to step over metal pipes and construction debris to get to the X-ray equipment.  Some men were pouring a concrete floor in the room next door.  My American friend and I got a big laugh out of the Happy Vet/service station and X-ray/garage combinations.

The X-ray equipment was antiquated, and Dr. Patricia and I had to hold Molly down physically to have the X-rays done - and without any personal protection.  I lectured her, as best I could in Spanish, about how important it is for her to wear personal protection like a lead apron, as she is still young and of reproductive age.  The X-ray technician/radiologist did have a lead apron, which he quickly donned as he twisted the dial about three feet from us holding the dog.

But the technician did manage to get X-rays that were usable, in spite of the old equipment.  The fluorescent light in his light box wouldn't work properly, so we all held the X-rays above our heads to look at them with the fluorescent lights in the ceiling.  They found a hairline fracture in her hip, some dysplasia in the other hip (which may have been genetic), and a wider-than-normal gap between two of her vertebrae where her spinal cord was swollen and inflamed.  But she had been able to feel pain ever since the accident - a good sign - and by this morning she was able to wag her tail - another good sign.

Then it was the other man's turn with his dog.

After the X-rays were finished, we all went back with Dr. Patricia to the Happy Pet office, which quickly filled with other clients.  I also knew all of them - all American gringos, some from Boquete and some from Volcan.  It was like old home week.  Amazing.

In between all the other clients, my friend with his old dog and Molly and I sat and waited for what must have been at least an hour to finish our conversations with Dr. Patricia. Her husband also came to help translate for all of the English-speaking clients.

Dr. Patricia's husband Samuel, who himself has a PhD in Veterinary Science, told me that Molly should be walking by Monday.  No surgery will be needed.  They prescribed a simple vitamin-calcium supplement to help her fracture heal more quickly.  I was tremendously relieved.

Meanwhile, among all the chatter in the waiting room, Dr. Samuel had been talking with my friend about his old dog.  As they got up to leave, I casually asked the owner from across the room, "How did it go for you?"

He replied, "She's got cancer," choking back tears as they walked out the door.

No doubt dramas like this play out everywhere.  Molly and I were the lucky ones today. My heart goes out to my friend and his old dog, whose future is uncertain at best.

And, by the way, if you ever need a veterinarian in the Boquete-David-Volcan area, I can recommend Dr. Patricia at Happy Pet.  She is very caring, thorough and professional.  Unlike some other vets who pretend to practice here and often kill dogs because of their ignorance.

Directions to Happy Pet:  continue on the Inter-American Highway in David past PriceSmart and the Chiriqui Mall.  You will see the sign for Happy Vet in the front of a huge Prime service station not far past the mall, on the same side of the road.  The clinic is behind the gas pumps, facing the street.  Hours:  M-F 8:30-12:30 and 2:00 - 6:00; Saturdays 8:00-3:00.  Be sure to call first - 6948-1476 or 6874-5845, especially if it's an emergency.

And, by the way, while we were at the Happy Pet today my gardener cut down all the grapefruits.

Molly Recovering

Update:  Molly is almost back to normal today (August 25).  Chauncey, her half-brother, knows this and has started playing with her again.

No comments:

Post a Comment