A fire alarm went off in the building. As we left our condo and started walking down the hall, our neighbor’s door opened and a flash of overstimulated mastiff bolted out and attacked our little Shih Tzu, Nugget. I tried to save her by pulling her leash straight up in the air as the mastiff bit and stomped her. Nugget was screaming and the giant dog was not responding to her owners’ calls. My fearless John threw his leg over the attacking blur’s shoulders and pulled her off our dog and I lifted Nugget into my arms to check for damage. Her right eye was popped out, and she was bleeding and bruised. Without missing a beat, we boarded the next elevator just steps away and straight to our pickup truck and began driving to find an emergency vet. But it was an early Saturday evening in October — the locals’ vacation time before the busy ski season and there was hardly anyone around.
We drove to the animal hospital in nearby Fraser where I had faxed Nugget’s shot records when we moved up here a few months earlier so that we’d be ready for a moment like this. But they weren’t ready for us. The office was closed as would be expected, but there was a note on the door with an emergency number. John called it — it was a clinic in Evergreen, at least an hour away and with an 11,000-foot pass between us. Time was of the essence as our truck sat idling and our dog continued whimpering. We called 911 and asked for a more nearby emergency option. They gave us the number of Dr. Mike Brooks, DVM, in Granby, just 20 minutes away.
We made a lightning stop at Safeway for a bag of frozen peas and some eye drops to keep the swelling down and the eye hydrated as the lid was not able to close anymore.
We arrived at Doc Brooks’ on the quiet main drag in Granby, exhaling with relief as we identified his hopeful glowing sign in the growing darkness: “Vet Clinic.” We entered the tiny building. To the left was an old wood stove and stacks of dog food for sale; to the right, a spartan desk/computer area, a wall of medicine on open shelves, and a small stainless steel examination table.
It turns out that Doc Brooks lives just up the road on his cattle ranch so he’s always around. He says it is his ethic as a vet to be available when emergencies occur — more often the case than not with farm animals and pets in rural areas. His own emergency veterinary ethic–van ethic that was very valuable to us on a Saturday night! He apologized for not picking up the call right away as he’d been taking a shower. No matter, we didn’t wait a moment. He was there when our truck pulled up in front of his clinic.
Nugget was placed on the table, her leg was shaved and she was given an intravenous sedative. “Well, since I don’t have any help right now, you are going to have to be my vet techs,” he told us. We held her head as he sutured her eye closed over the handle of a metal forceps, then gently wiggled it out to tighten the eye shut. It was a bloody sight and a relief to get the eye closed and on the way to healing.
He sent us off with steroids to reduce the blood clot behind her eye and pain killers for the next few days. He squirted antibiotic ointment into a puncture wound on her left side and on a long, bruising scratch on her right side. “She’s going to be pretty sore for awhile,” he said, shaking his head sadly.
It’s been nearly two months since the attack and though Nugget is now blind in her right eye, we are thankful that she has not lost her eye. We really appreciated our experience with this honest and hard-working country vet with the emergency veterinary ethic, which helped save our dog’s eye on a Saturday night when no other nearby vet was available. We highly recommend Dr. Mike Brooks for your vet needs if you live in the Winter Park, Fraser or Granby areas.
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