Iko's Long Journey
You might have noticed I've been missing.
It all started Thanksgiving Day. I'd been running around like a headless chicken, cleaning, cooking and prepping for company. That's the only excuse I have for not noticing Iko's injuries sooner.
I did notice that his fur was matted with a gummy slime. His coat is really dense right now so to get a better look I gave him a bath. The ooze was coming from two gaping wounds.
We had no shaver, so I clipped his fur as close as I could with scissors so I could clean the wounds.
Being a holiday the vet clinic was closed. I called the answering service nonetheless, and my wonderful vet called me back even though she was out of town. She insisted that Iko was in no immediate danger especially since I'd cleaned the wounds. Someone from the clinic was there to give me some antibiotics to hold him over until she could see him.
I worried over that dog ALL weekend long. He had a good appetite, normal bowel movements, and was in good spirits despite his injuries. From the outside, it seemed like he would be okay. But something wasn't right. I felt it in my bones. I didn't like the way that wound looked.
My suspicions were confirmed when my vet was able to shave him down to bare skin. It wasn't just the gashes on his side, the tissue further down his body had been severely traumatized and beginning to necrotize. He was in very bad shape, his body just didn't know it yet.
Our vet told us that she'd have to remove a great deal of hide to save him. On the plus side, Iko had lots of extra skin. The bad part was that he'd be stitched over more than half his body.
She kept him under anesthesia longer than she had hoped. There was so much damage.
We got him back late that evening. He was heavily drugged, but she warned us that it would wear off soon and to start giving him pain meds immediately.
To say that my poor boy had a miserable night would be an understatement. Nothing broke my heart more than to hear him cry all night. I gave him as much pain medication as I dared, and I slept with him so I could be there if he needed anything.
The next day our vet called, surprised to find out he was still alive. She had warned us that he might not make it.
I'd be lying to you if I said that had been the worst of it. We had weeks more of sleepless nights. The drainage tubes and sutures bothered him terribly. It was all we could do to keep him from tearing at his flesh.
We kept him in pressure bandages for weeks. After a while, part of the incision healed, but there were two more areas where the sutures didn't hold because of their location. He had to go into surgery again to repair the gaping holes.
Another week passed. He'd had a bit of relapse, most likely because of all the drugs in his body, but he was slowly recuperating.
Last week, we took him for another checkup. He'd need one more surgery. His sutures tore again. The picture above was taken after the second time the pressure bandages were taken off so the sutures hadn't torn yet. The area that kept ripping was down close to his legs.
So that's where I've been the last few weeks. If it hadn't been for the fact that I'd already compiled the gift list posts, you wouldn't have heard from me at all. It was important I focus on Iko.
As to how he got those injuries...we might never know. Poor Iko was literally shredded.
We've found tracks of a very large animal on our property. Our neighbors swear they had seen a black panther prowling between our properties. They're rare in these parts but this is their kind of habitat. I've also seen wolves and bobcats, the wolf, just the other day. We no longer go out at dusk or dawn without a gun. We are constantly on guard now.
I have to admit, I was scared to my socks early in Iko's recovery. I was walking him, and we accidentally startled a wolf in my neighbor's woods. All I had on me was a pocket knife. I opened up the knife and we backed away slowly, me never taking my eyes off those woods. After that we never went out without a gun or my trusty bodyguard, Greg.
And that's the story of Iko's long journey and why I was offline so much.
I never got around to decorating for Christmas and I won't be sending Christmas cards this year. I feel like all my energy has been sapped. All I want to do is sleep.
2018 has been a really hard year. In the end, we made it, but not without a beating.
As Greg always said when he used to fly airplanes: Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. And that's us. We were able to walk away. :)
How did 2018 treat you?
Update: It looks like Iko has to go back to the clinic on Wednesday. He tore his stitches again. I hope he won't have to go back under, but we'll have to wait and see what the vet thinks. This close to Christmas, she doesn't want to take any chances so she's asked to see him. Keep your paws crossed.
A sad update: Our poor Iko died suddenly the day after Christmas 2018, from a heart attack. After all he endured and all we endured, it was a bitter shock to lose him like this.
He was doing so well. The sutures were holding. He had a great appetite and a great disposition. His heart had been strong every time he'd gone to the clinic. Aside from that, we watched him like hawks and were aware of every change in pattern.
He died within minutes of the attack. Sometimes you get kicked in the gut no matter how hard you try. RIP, my poor, brave boy.