Toffee in February this year. Still fit and healthy
Yesterday the vet arrived to check out Toffee who had a large open wound on her side. She'd previously caught and torn a teat on the wire fence when she and Princess got out one night six weeks ago. At the time Grant called the local vet in who gave her a course of antibiotic injections. Meanwhile Michael and I treated the wound daily and I left the medication (Zambuc - good Oz ointment, and South African tissue oil ) which he applied in my absence.
When I returned from leave, Michael told me that Toffee's matatizo/problem was worse. Grant called in a provincial vet; Albert, head of the askaris brought him to my home and we consulted together. The vet said that Toffee's wound was cancerous; he said he'd anathematize the dog, go in, cut out all the cancerous tissue and sew her up again. His opinion was that afterwards she would be good as new. I wasn't at all convinced about operating on cancer areas. Toffee is apparently about 12 years old, so I asked the vet about humanely putting her down. He and his assistant seemed horrified that I would suggest this; they said they'd recently operated another older dog on another mine and it survived well.
Michael lifts the sedated Toffee onto the examination table
Michael and I duly set up an operating theater in Grant's large bathroom and although the doctor promised to be here at 10am yesterday, he and the assistant duly arrived just after 2.30pm! That's Africa time for you.
The assistant sedated Toffee, Michael lifted her onto the table and the vet examined her.
Within minutes Michael called me from my desk and said the doctor wanted to speak to me. The doctor told me that the cancer had spread into Toffee's groin area and to operate would mean great pain and suffering without the guarantee of her being well again. Now he and his assistant quoted a statement from the Tanzanian Animal Welfare Society about humanely putting animals out of their suffering!
When I agreed that the best thing for dear old Toffee would be euthanasia and would he administer it, he said they don't have the drugs! He asked if the hospital would supply us large dose of general anesthetic which would put the dog to sleep permanently. Getting anything from the hospital involves a long procedure ( waiting on the veranda with dozens of other patients) and with the dog twitching as she was coming around from her light sedation, I knew I couldn't go the normal route. So I phoned Grant and asked him to help. He immediately got hold of the doctor, and once he'd explained what we needed, the doctor asked him to come to surgery to collect the medication.
Within minutes, Grant was at our gate and passed me two bottles. I took these to the doctor thinking now the deed would be done. Not long and Michael called me to the bathroom again. The doctor held up the medicine and said it was incorrect. The doctor had given us local anesthetic instead of general anesthetic! I phoned Grant again; he fetched the bottles and went back to the hospital. The doctor called the anesthetist - a most taciturn man - and this time Grant phoned the vet asked him to speak directly to the anesthetist!
Five minutes later Grant was back at the gate, this time holding a syringe with the first dose, and two small vials with liquid to be administered after this, using new needles each time. I handed the first one to the vet's assistant who gave it to the vet. Michael bound Toffee's leg above the elbow to enable easier access into her veins. Albert was at Toffee's head and kept stroking her. The vet injected the first one intravenously while Michael untied the twine. Meanwhile the assistant was setting up the final two injections. The vet subsequently administered these two, continually listening to Toffee's heartbeat.
Finally after fifteen long minutes, dear old Toffee was at peace.
The reason for posting this in detail may seem a little bizarre; but it's to show how different and difficult things can be here in the boondocks. In South Africa I've had to make this already traumatic decision and take a beloved pet to the vet's surgery. Within minutes the vet would have the animal on the table; I always stay with my pet till the end, and as soon as the needle goes into the vein, the patient closes its eyes. Another minute or two and the vet listens to the heartbeat and says: "It's over."
All I can say in closing is:
kwa heri ma rafiki/ goodbye my friend