Daisy was somewhat lethargic on Saturday 9th May, certainly in comparison to her normally boisterous and robust behaviour. She vomited frothy yellow bile but did not seem to be affected by the experience. Her stomach seemed to be growling overnight and her sleep was unsettled. On Sunday morning she ate a lot of grass in the garden and then threw it up. Shortly after this her face erupted in lumpy swelling across her cheeks and her eyes.
My insurance company provides free access to FirstVet, an app which provides online consultation with a vet. After the consultation, it was recommended that Daisy should be taken immediately to an out of hours Vet Hospital.
We went to the VetsNow facility in central Glasgow. The arrangements for the visit were unusual due to Covid-19. The practice has a dog run at the rear of the building; an enclosed mesh-fenced concrete run. All contact was made with the staff through the phone and a “handover” of Daisy in the dog pound to a gowned and masked member of staff took place. Daisy barked in distress as I walked away to my car.
Although absolutely necessary, the process felt alien and unsettling: a prisoner exchange. It felt like being a checkpoint on the border to an emerging dystopia; the country called “the new normal”. The building was in the heart of Charing Cross, where the M8 motorway junctions bisect the city. The twisted entrails of the urban motorway usually growl continuously but now the city was quiet, sunlit and empty.
Looking around the parking area behind the hospital, it became clear that quite a few pet owners were sitting, isolated in their vehicles. Watching the small bundle of a cat who had been euthanised being exchanged through the steel mesh of the dog run between a masked and gowned Vet and a grieving owner was the saddest of things to see. The impossibility of contact and consolation coupled with the fact that this last act of the cat’s existence had to be played out in a public space was distressing.
A while later, a call came through to me from the Vet. Daisy’s hi-pitched bark was chopping up the calm of the surgery. However, the news was good- heart, lungs and temperature were all fine; ruling out poisoning. She had responded well to an anti-inflammatory injection. The best guess for her condition was that it was a strong allergic reaction something unknown in the environment. A bee sting, a bite, rotting carrion…
Given that much of her exercise is off-lead and she has no fear of deep cover, I’ll never know what prompted it. Thankfully, she responded really quickly to the treatment and within a few hours the swelling subsided to nothing.
The combination of technology between the FirstVet app and the use of phone and text message- including a google maps link for directions allowed really effective care to be given to Daisy and I am very grateful for this. However, I feel tremendously sorry for any owner who has to undergo the sad but necessary ordeal of separation at the last moment from their pet. A smaller sorrow than the pain of a human loss, but an indicator of how this virus seeps into every aspect of our existence.