Canine Column: Always there for you

By Marti Benson

I’m sporting an ugly trail of scabs and bruises on my leg, and I sprained a finger —but it could have been much worse. In our day-to-day lives, things happen. Missteps, accidents—and now the pandemic—could cost anyone of us an unexpected, and possibly lengthy, hospital stay. As pet owners, we need to be ready for the unforeseen. Planning for Sadie’s safety and well-being, if something were to happen to you, is essential.

The first step is asking a family member, friend or trusted neighbor to be your dog’s designated caregiver. Knowing ahead of time you have someone to watch over your best friend in your absence is important. A few years ago, an acquaintance was the victim of a violent crime. While he lay sedated in the hospital, his elderly cat remained at home alone and unattended. When he was able to ask about his cat, a neighbor checked the townhouse —and found her to be unresponsive and near death. The story still haunts me.

Keep your dog’s medical records and important papers in a designated spot. A folder labeled with Jazzy’s name—and containing vaccination information, her veterinarian’s name and phone number, prescriptions or supplements that she needs, what you feed her, and any other vital information– should be accessible and easy to find for the person responsible for her in your absence. Any medication and its usage should, also, be readily available. My dog, Ernie, has cirrhosis and must adhere to a strict timeframe for his meds. I have the schedule written out (complete with boxes to check off) on a notepad on our counter. I, also, keep his scripts for his meds and prescription food next to the notepad.

Having a recent photo of your dog available is, also, a must. Put it in your pet’s folder along with all of the other important papers. If you become incapacitated and Shadow escapes out the door during medical intervention, a current picture would be critical to helping to identify him and finding him. Keep in mind that if Shadow is in good hands, he still might bolt out the front door when someone new comes into his house. And don’t forget to keep a leash handy. Even if Rusty is a couch potato that never goes farther than the patio, a surge of adrenaline during a frightening situation might turn your senior pooch into Mighty Dog. Having a leash handy will help keep him under control.

Start making your emergency plans for your dog right now; while you have this time. Tell your family and friends to do the same. Our canine companions are always there for us—during the good and the bad; even during the swan dives onto the cement. Let’s do the same for them.

 

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