S'Dandi Shih Tzu
All Rights Reserved
2000 - 2008
Sally and Dick Watkeys
8235 Outer Drive South
Traverse City, MI 49684
Graphics courtesy of:
S'Dandi Shih Tzu
Just BePaws . . .
It started just like any other RV trip. All the dogs and paraphernalia were loaded in and buckled up. All our “stuff” was added, and we were off to the west for several dog shows, a son’s wedding, and the final stop, a motorhome rally at Buckeye Lake with good friends and wonderful fun.

As always, wherever we stop we attract lots of attention. I love to hear the comments as we bring the furry kids out to their ex-pens. “Look, she’s bringing out two dogs, how cute! Oh, my gosh, she’s bringing out two more and two more. Lady, how many dogs do you have in there?”

Nothing unusual at this stop. Our beautiful babies were the talk of the campground, and many people flocked over to see them. We meet many new friends this way and always have a great time. There are lots of dog lovers in the motorhome world.

One couple, that we had met at another rally, has a Shih Tzu rescued from a golf course. She is a cute little gray/white dog who travels with them all over the country. Since they are full-time Rvers, that’s a lot of traveling. They had been waiting for us to arrive to see what new kids were among our group and talk dogs. After our initial greetings and hugs, they were anxious to see the kids and asked if I had anybody needing a home. They had decided to get another Tzu as a friend for their Duffer.

It just so happened that I was looking for a home for one-year-old Libby. She had looked promising as a puppy, as lots of them do, but hadn’t materialized into the showgirl I’d expected. It’s always hard to part with a puppy after that long, but unselfishly, she needed her own home where she would be loved and have undivided attention. Alma and Dan would be perfect, if Libby liked them.

The next day, we planned for Libby to sleep over and see how she did with their RV and Duffer. We were all outside around the ex-pens talking, the puppies right in front of us, enjoying everyone’s attention. Alma walked up asking were “her Libby” was, and we answered, “Right here.” At that point, Dick looked down and saw Libby lying on the grate of the ex-pen. He picked her up, shouting for me. She fell over his arm, listless. She vomited. I took her and rushed into the motorhome, panicked. What in the world was wrong? She had been happily jumping and barking with all the others.

A million thoughts ran through my head (although, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion.) I threw a clean towel on the counter and put lifeless Libby on it, head down. Her eyes were open, she was breathing, though shallowly. She vomited and lost control. I checked for foreign objects in her mouth-nothing there, and yelled for Dick to find the number of a vet. Of course, it was 9 P.M. at night in a place where we knew no one. I did the only thing I could think of and that was to rub her, talking soothingly. If this girl were going to die, she would know she was loved. I rubbed and gently shook her, crying as I called her name over and over. She responded. Her tongue started the licking thing. Her eyes still glazed, seemed to be trying to focus. I offered water. She wouldn’t take it. I rubbed and called louder. She responded again slightly more alert. Maybe she would be all right. I picked her up, put her over my shoulder, still crying and calling her name. She raised her head weakly as if to say,
"Here I am, Mama. It’s OK.” I offered water again. She drank and drank. She held her head up. She tried to stand but ended up sitting, still unstable. I began to relax. We stayed there, quietly, both of us trying to regain composure. She was going to be okay. What a scare!!

After this disaster was over, I relived it all again and again. What could I have done to prevent this near fatal situation? We decided she must have gotten so excited in her exuberance to greet people, that she regurgitated some food, which lodged in her throat and cut off the airway. Luckily, Dick noticed her soon after this happened and, in picking her up under her tummy, forced the object out allowing breathing to begin. We were very lucky. I still can’t believe this happened to us. I consider myself to be extremely conscientious about my animals. They are my babies. If this could happen to me, it could happen to anybody, and the outcome could have been terrible.

This story has a happy ending. Although, Libby slept next to my head that night, she spent the next night sleeping over with her new family. She is now a “national traveler” with Duffer, living the life of luxury and freedom in their RV and becoming the mascot of all the rallies they attend. We get frequent letters and pictures from all over the country. After her near-death experience, she is a very special addition to their family.

We always have first aid supplies with us, but, now, we also make sure to check the local vets and note their phone number when we arrive in a new place. I’m glad this lesson was from a happily-ever-after story instead of from a tragedy. Hopefully, this will help alert others while traveling. Accidents and mishaps can and do happen. Don’t allow yourself to be unprepared.

My list of first aid necessities: collar and lead, extra food for an emergency, alcohol/peroxide, gauze, Benadryl for insect bites, Tears Naturale II for eyes, health information on each animal, bottled water from home, Hydrocortisone for minor injuries, tape, Kaopectate for diarrhea, ice for cold packs. Pedialyte (now comes in individual packets that can be frozen) is good to lick on a hot day or when in stress, especially if dog is not eating. Syringes to use for feeding if necessary-I fill the tube with whatever liquid/gruel food I need to get down my dog and slowly squeeze in mouth. Saline solution in case of severe dehydration to subcu into dog (a temporary solution until you can reach the vet.) And, now, a phone number of a local vet at each stop.

In an article written for Dog World Magazine, June 1998, John Cargill, M.A., M.B.A., M.S., and Susan Thorpe-Vegas, PhD., listed the following as their ultimate “Go to shows” First-Aid Kit:
“Adhesive bandage, cling wrap, cotton swabs, eye lubricant, latex gloves, magnifying glass, petroleum jelly, rectal thermometer, waterproof tape, tick puller/forceps, antibiotic soap, ice/heat packs, cotton balls, eye wash, hydrogen peroxide, New Skin, Povidone iodine, Styptic powder/pencil, water-based lubricant, bandages, corn syrup, dosing syringe, gauze, liquid detergent, penlight, scissors, thermal blanket, tweezers.
Medications: Antibiotic medication, Ascriptin, Neosporin, antibiotic ointment, Benadryl, Pepto-Bismol, antihistamine, Kaopectate. Note: Be sure to consult a vet before administering any medication.”
Hope this helps everyone prepare for the unexpected.
Nightmare At
Buckeye Lake