Another Day, Another trip to the Vet


So yea, it has been a while! So much has happened! So much to tell you! Not sure …. well, here, I’ll start with Bear.
As you may or may not know, we were evacuated from Brittany Lake. Our property has always been safe from fire but Hwy 20 which is our lifeline to civilization has had its woes since the wildfires burst on the scene! Our departure is another story…
While evacuated we stayed with our son and daughter-in-law in Chilliwack. They have a lovely home that they moved into late last year with four bedrooms and a HUGE, fenced backyard. Michael and Hayley graciously allowed us to bring our three animals into their home. We simply cannot express how thankful we are that we were able to keep Bear, Sam and Billabong with us during our time away; we had visions of dropping them all off at a kennel!
During our evacuation we, of course, went out onto some of our fave trails! Why wouldn’t we? Sumallo Grove has long been a favourite one, just inside Manning Park; I can tell you now because it seems everyone else has also discovered the once little used trail! We went there for the peace and solitude, the ability walk, carefree, along the trail with Bear and Sam at arms length; I think I counted 10 vehicles in the carpark when we left after a very stressful walk! But I digress. I started talking about Bear. So here’s the thing, Bear has done this trail a dozen times; it’s flat and there isn’t any deadfall to maneuver so, easy peasy, right? Oh, and it’s relatively short – 7-8 km there and back. Again, easy peasy for our Bear. Well, didn’t he just sit down on the trail halfway back?!  We checked his paws, nothing. It wasn’t a particularly hot day and the trail is almost completely shaded but we offered him water from our water bottles; no go. What the…? We managed to get him moving and slowly made our way back to the truck where we helped the old boy up into the truck. He promptly laid himself down and remained that way until we got back to Chilliwack even though he had a very rambunctious American Mastiff frolicking all over the back of the truck. Ben, our …grand-dog…Michael and Hayley’s giant dog.

Big Boy Ben! And our lil Samwise Gamgee on the trail

Home again and Bear seems to be less and less inclined to move himself. Okay, maybe he is just getting old? Who am I kidding? He is only 6! Through the night he got considerably worse, he wanted to go outside but he couldn’t get up so he got a magic carpet ride aloft his bed. Can I just say, Bear is one heavy dog!  Come the new day we loaded Bear into the truck so Luke could take him into the vet for an emergency visit; at least it was not a four hour drive or the middle of a long weekend. Now I want it to be known that I also take the boys to the vet but it seems that Luke is the “lucky” one who gets to take them in for the difficult visits. You’ll recall his instant Vet Assistant visit with Sam? No, Luke didn’t have to scrub in for a procedure with Bear but he got some sobering news: Don’t expect your dog to be with you for much longer than another year. Wait, what? He’s only 6!!!!! He has CCL – Crucial Cranial Ligament disease, a bit of arthritis and well, he is a big dog. A big dog who sustained a fall down a set of stairs when he was a puppy and the silly vet we were seeing then treated his neck and not his spine. Sigh.

Bear is in considerable pain and can’t get up from his bed

They gave Luke a prescription for pain meds…for Bear, not Luke. The rest of the stay in Chilliwack was difficult for Bear but at least we were able to alleviate some the pain he was in. Upon our arrival back at the Earthship we promptly made a follow up appointment with the Williams Lake vet who basically confirmed what the Chilliwack vet said with the exception that we COULD take Bear to what amounts to an orthopaedic surgeon who could ummm…. shave bits of his …..tibia ….. so his leg wouldn’t slip out of the hip socket? You’ll have to ask Luke. I told the WL Vet, “Yea, so I’m going to need you to talk to my husband because I’m not going to remember or be able to make sense of a single thing you have just told me.” The vet sent me home with more painkillers. Again, for Bear, with naught for me!! What the heck?
Back home after a very long day in the truck – it was a there and back again trip as there was not a single hotel room available in Williams Lake. Seems all the rooms were taken up by firefighters. Oh, yea, it’s still fire season at this time. Hanceville/Riske Creek still had spot fires burning near the highway – very sobering, indeed, to see the devastation caused by the fires. On our drive back up Highway 20,  between the Hanceville/Riske Creek fires and the Alexis Creek fires we came upon a Mama deer and her two fawns,  meandering about on the highway. So lost. So sad to see.

Mama Deer and her two fawns, bumbling about in the thick wildfire smoke along Hwy 20

Back to our Bear. Focus. Bear is reduced to walking twenty steps from the Earthship door. This is a dog who has been raised to be on the trail for hours at a time. Don’t tell me this wasn’t having an impact on him. And Samwise Gamgee? How do you walk the trails with one dog but not the other? And Luke’s parents were meant to arrive any day, evacuation orders/alerts pending. Bear is NOT improving, at all. Wait, he managed to walk over to Clarice’s, maybe 200 metres from the Earthship, but it’s an improvement! Luke and I are now worried that Bear’s good leg is going to suffer the same fate as his injured leg so we booked ANOTHER appointment with the Williams Lake vet to have xrays done of ALL of Bear’s legs and joints. May I just interject here that I am a bit of a worry wart? And can we please get Bear into a dog psychotherapist? I will also let you know that our boys have not been seen by the same vet twice in all our trips to and fro! This has contributed to our unease; who knows what, if any, conversations are happening behind closed doors between the plethora of vets who have looked at Bear and Sam? (Thanks, Billabong, for being a healthy kitty!)
Evacuation orders for Kleena Kleene lifted, Luke’s parents arrive and Bear is slowly making progress but not enough to put us at ease so we keep the xray appointment but this time we DO get to stay overnight in Williams Lake! Thank goodness! Bear is a terrible traveller! He is the first to jump in the truck, excited to be on the go and then 3 minutes later is panting and whining – and he doesn’t let up, not once; and he doesn’t lay down; and his panting, whining schnoze is right in your ear as you drive along. Where’s the valium? We’ll each take a dose! Now I am so accustomed to this behaviour but my mother-in-law? Not so much. Oh, yea, she is along for the ride because let’s face it, one can only take the bush for so long right? Luke thought she might like a little bit of retail therapy in Williams Lake. I was  definitely in need of a valium after a very long drive trying to please to very different needs – Bear needs the window open; MIL is from Australia and is used to warmer climes and wouldn’t you know it? It’s freezing cold!  So I have the heat blasting for her and the windows open for him and I arrive in Williams Lake with the worst headache of all time paired with a colossal ear ache from the cold wind constantly battering my left ear and swimmer’s ear in the right from all Bear’s whinging with his snout firmly lodged in my ear.
When Luke and I travel with Bear, it is the non-driving persons responsibility to keep Bear settled; not saying it works but it’s much easier to drive with a second set of hands on deck!

Bear, excited and ready to go!

But  anyway, we get into Williams Lake a bit early for our appointment and thankfully the vet takes us in early. I just want to be in the hotel room where Bear can C H I L L. The vet, Dr. Ross, …I don’t know, that might be his name? Is the same vet that stitched our Sammy back together. It’s the first time I have seen this vet and I have to say, I liked him immediately. Not sure what he said but he said it so well that I was almost instantly put at ease and I was able to leave the vet office confident that Bear would be with us for years to come. Once again, I told this vet that he was going to need to have a conversation with Luke because I am simply unable to comprehend/retain difficult news. He sent me home with a pamphlet detailing an expensive surgery that he seemed to think would be a cure all for Bear. Well, Bear will never walk with ease again but apparently with this surgery he will be able to limp along and not be in pain and that is what we want for him; to live a long and healthy life doing what he loves to do. Dr. Ross….I really need to look up his name… likened Bear’s joint issues with something I could comprehend – myself once being an avid hiker – Imagine your knee grinding and slipping out of its socket with each and every step you take. Enough said! Fix it! Take all my money! I cringed, feeling in my own leg the pain that Bear must be enduring.  The long and short of it is that when Luke is in the Valley for a work thing Bear will be having surgery. We hope. The specialist will see him on a Monday and if all the preliminaries go well he will have surgery on Wednesday. Dr. Ross says Bear ought to heal up in time to enjoy Winter on the trails that we have built around the place out at Brittany Lake.

Bear, finally resting at the Best Western in Williams Lake

Thanks for stopping in for a visit. I’ll just leave you with a more pleasant photo of our Bear. Keep your fingers crossed for him – that he is eligible for the surgery, that the surgery goes well and that he heals quickly and joins us, once again, on the trails that we all love so much. He has been our constant companion since May 2011; he warms  our hearts and souls with his gentle presence.

Our Bear when he was just a lil wee lad. Bridal Falls trail – where he learned to love to be in the bush.

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