Edith, the Slayer of Heartworms

img_4364-1I don’t know why I’m surprised that Edith is taking this whole heartworm treatment deal in stride. In fact, if you stopped by to see her, you wouldn’t realize anything was amiss. She would rise to greet you with her tail going a mile-a-minute and a big smile on her face. When you reached down to pet her, she would lean into you—her regular move which I have come to think of as Edith’s way of hugging you.

This morning I felt a bit cruel, but I didn’t give her a pain med. I opened her crate and she came bounding out, running for the kitchen to see who else was up. As I walked her, she pranced along and when we passed our cat, Crash, she assumed the play position to see if he might want to go for a morning romp. I tugged on the leash and told her to settle down.

After a dog experiences heartworm treatment it is critical that they remain calm and not exert a lot of effort, thus straining the heart and lungs which are stressed by the meds that are breaking up the heartworms. I have nightmares about clots and don’t let Edith out of my sight (nor she, me). I watch her obsessively for a bad reaction of any kind.

We are only two days out from Edith’s treatment. All the information and the first-hand accounts I had been given about heartworm treatment told me that she should be miserable. This is a seriously painful treatment. It wouldn’t be hard to keep her quiet because she’d be in such pain that she wouldn’t even want to move. Uh-huh. Sorry, but these heartworm meds never met Edith!

Edith reminds me of my own mom who never complains about the arthritis in her hands and shoulders. Despite a knee replacement, I know her knee still hurts, as does her hip which the doctor recommended she have replaced but she has yet to find time to do. She is busy running errands, baking hundreds of cookies for her church’s Christmas cookie sale, visiting local business looking for donations for their welcome wagon, and when we turn up she is happy to cook for us and never blinks when I hand her sewing repairs. You would never know she is in physical pain.

Edith has much the same attitude—the person in front of her is so much more important than any discomfort she might be experiencing. The only way I know Edith is in pain is by the look in her eyes. They aren’t as bright as they usually are. A friend on facebook commented that she looked sad, and she’s right.

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She does look sad, but she doesn’t act sad. And that’s the problem. Edith needs to be quiet and take it easy. Since I haven’t been able to force that upon her, I cut back on her a pain meds except at night when she is in her crate and there are no people to entertain. This feels cruel, but necessary.

I’ve moved my laptop to the kitchen so that I’m not making so many trips back and forth between the office and the kitchen with Edith always in tow. She has helped me slow down these last few days. Probably good for both of us, but keeping her quiet for two weeks will not be easy. Luckily, I can focus on her. Our next foster dog won’t arrive until December 10, but she’ll be worth waiting for- promise!

Thanks to so many of you who donated to Edith’s Heart, the fundraiser I started to raise money for Edith’s treatment and to help OPH save other heartworm positive dogs like Edith. In most shelters a diagnosis of heartworm is a death warrant. I’m so proud to be a part of an organization that does not turn away dogs who require this costly and lengthy treatment. On Giving Tuesday, we raised $400 and to date, the fundraiser is close to $3000 (some of the donations do not show up on the fundraiser page because they came in the form of calendar and notecard sales and will go directly to OPH). If you’d still like to give, the fundraiser will run until Edith is heartworm free, which will be a few more months. Here’s the link to help.

Those of you who are local, please bring your pup and stop by the New Freedom Farmer’s Market tomorrow, December 3 from 10-1 at the Rose Fire Co. hall. Edith’s adopter, Nancy Slattery of WAG photography, will be offering holiday pet portraits! For a $10 donation to Edith’s Heart, you get a free sitting and one digital copy of your pet’s portrait, plus the opportunity to purchase other poses and additional merchandise with your pet’s image.

And even if you don’t need a pet portrait, please stop by as we’ll be there selling notecards featuring Edith’s puppies and the one remaining calendar! I’ll also be selling and signing copies of all three of my books with a portion of the proceeds going to Edith’s Heart. Notecards, calendars, and books make great Christmas presents! We’d love to see you – so please stop by if you can!

For regular news of Edith, our new foster arriving next week, and updates on other foster dogs we’ve hosted, please join the Another Good Dog facebook group!

 

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Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and occasional cowgirl who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

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