“Steve! Come down stairs right now!”
Miriam was yelling at me from the foot of the stairs, anxiety making her voice quiver. I could hear her mumbling to herself oh what do I do? what do I do? Oh my gosh, the quick shuffle of her feet told me she was pacing in confusion in our down stairs hall, likely the palm of her hand pressed against her forehead. I rolled over, groggy and not quite awake, wondering if I was dreaming. The clock on my nightstand said 2:00 AM.
“I’ll be right there.” I replied quietly as I pulled a tee shirt over my head, the one I keep next to my bed, as I stumbled out of our upstairs bedroom, my own hand running through the hair on my temples in an effort to wake myself up. Besides the shuffling of Miriam’s feet on the laminate in the downstairs hallway, I could hear something else, something that sounded out of place.
Nick, my faithful furry friend, was lying on his side in our hallway, convulsing in the throes of a seizure. Miriam was in hysterics, murmuring oh my gosh, ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh as I bent over Nick, my hand on his side. His body was hot and tense, his hindquarters twisted as each leg quivered and shook. Bloody foam ran from the side of his mouth, eyes glassy, sides heaving as if Nick was struggling to breathe. There was nothing that could be done, I knew, except wait it out. I have never seen an animal experience a seizure, but I found my boss in a seizure twice. Once I even had to crawl under a bathroom stall to rescue him as he had gone into seizure while on the toilet in the mens room, driven forward into the stall door and had cracked his head on the tile floor. I went to get someone to call an ambulance, then pulled his pants up while waiting for the ambulance to come and kept people from coming into the restroom. Both instances had told me that you could only wait out a seizure.
I handed Miriam her cell phone, led her to the stairs to sit down, asked her to look up what to do when a dog is having a seizure. Giving her something to do helped calm her down. I was calm, but I was scared. I knew Nick had probably bitten his tongue but seeing his blood was still unsettling, his catatonia eerie. All I could do was put my hand on him and wait.
The seizure was relatively short, probably five minutes. What Mir could find on the internet was comforting, basically telling us that multiple seizures or long seizures were reason for concern. Nick is a Shetland Sheepdog, a collie breed, and seizures are common for collie breeds. We discussed taking him to an emergency vet, an expensive proposition, deciding we would wait to see how Nick reacted to the seizure.
As the convulsions stopped, Nick began trying to lift his head. It looked like he was blind, had a bit of paralysis in his hindquarters as he seemed to only be able to move his front legs. He struggled for a few minutes, eventually able to gain control of his back legs and stand up, then turned towards the wall behind him. I winced as he walked straight into the wall, stood slowly back up then like a zombie dog began pacing. He bumped into walls, chairs, got stuck in a corner. We called to him but he didn’t respond, confused and disoriented. For fifteen minutes, Nick paced steadily in a circuit through the downstairs hall, kitchen, dining room and living room. There was nothing we could do but watch, wait, and hope.
Eventually Nick recovered his senses, came to me when I called his name, accepted a few pats on his head, paced a little more, then went to Mir for comfort. I retrieved an old comforter, laid it on the floor in front of our couch. Nick collapsed there, accepted my hugs as I laid down next to him. I slept there for a while with him until the floor became too hard for me to stay asleep.
Nick was back to normal the next morning, dove into a snow drift when I let him out to the back yard. Today, I became his mortal enemy as the bath torturer, a necessity after the ordeal from Friday night. Nick hates baths, snaps at me as I pick him up to put him in the tub. From the way he acted during his bath, he definitely is suffering no ill affects!
I love my beautiful and loving companion. If he had died Friday night, I would have lost a faithful friend who never withholds affection, his constant cuddling and loyalty something I depend on. Nick, outside of bath time, is a patient animal, a comfort. When I lost my job, he was the companion who calmed me. When I was home recovering from surgeries in 2013, he never left my side. I was not ready to lose him last Friday night.
Now if the seizures had only made him lose his voice….