How TV Saved My Dog

If it weren’t for a busted power supply and a slow repairman, Oscar the Pug might not have made it.

Television can be a wonderful thing, especially if you happen to have a lovely new HDTV and more channels and features than you can shake a stick at. It’s even better when it does something like, say, save your dog’s life.

It all started in March, when I came home from work to discover my husband glumly sitting on the couch, looking for all the world like tragedy had struck.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“TV’s broken,” he sighed.

It was broken indeed — the nicest and biggest TV that either of us had ever owned, which we were extremely fond of. I had used it that morning to exercise with my WiiFit game, and that was the last time that it ever turned on.

Luckily, because it was still under two years old, we were still covered by the extended warranty I had purchased. We arranged for a service call on the same day that we would be taking our pug, Oscar, to his annual vet appointment. So we’d meet the repairman, take the dog for his checkup, and then leave him alone at home while Hubby and I went out on a date.

We were almost out the door to go to the vet’s when the television repair guy called. He said he knew he had a morning appointment with us, but he was running extremely late and wanted to know if he could reschedule for somewhere between 3 and 7 in the afternoon. It had taken so long to get him scheduled to see us in the first place (customer service, how I loathe your menus and holding and Muzak) that we agreed to ditch our afternoon plans and stay home after the dog’s appointment.

Ozzy was fussed over and cuddled and declared a healthy boy at his appointment. He’s one of the only dogs I know of who loves going to the vet — he adores the people at the office, and they tend to coo over his cuteness and shower him with attention. He fussed a little when he got his shots, but everything seemed to be business as usual.

Back home, we all retreated to Hubby’s Mancave to watch the one remaining working TV in the house. After a while, Oscar, who had been nestled between us on the futon, started fidgeting and scratching. Since he’s prone to sniffliness when pollen is out in full force, I gently pulled him into my lap and shushed him, not wanting him to scratch himself with his newly trimmed claws.

Immediately, he started to thrash around and rub wildly at his face, his breath growing throaty and rapid. When I looked down at him, I was shocked.

My poor pug’s face had, in a matter of seconds, swollen to an enormous size. His eyes, usually so large and bulgy that he has trouble completely shutting them, were sealed shut. His lips and ears and nose all followed suit — he looked like a completely different animal than the wrinkly little pug that I knew and loved.

Oscar was panicking, desperately trying to paw at his puffy face, and he began to hyperventilate. My heart fell into the pit of my stomach. Something was wrong, wrong, wrong.

“Oscar,” I said as firmly as possible, fighting down my internal panicking, “You need to calm down and breathe. We’re going to make you all better. Okay?”

Oscar seemed to understand, and he slowed his breathing. I asked Hubby to carry him outside to get him some fresh air while I called the vet. She confirmed my suspicions that he was having an allergic reaction to one of his shots and told us to get him an antihistamine and bring him back in right away.

Once Hubby came back inside with Oscar, who had spent his time in the yard throwing up, we forced a Benadryl down his swollen throat and gave him some water to wash it down. Almost immediately, some of the facial swelling started to go down and he was able to breathe a little easier, though he was roasting hot to the touch and had broken out in hives.

We got Oz in his crate and buckled into the backseat of my car, and I took off down the road, talking to him reassuringly and trying really hard not to speed too much. I sprinted into the vet’s office with the poor droopy dog in my arms. They already had a room ready for us and quickly gave him a shot of steroids to help counteract the vaccine that was making him so sick. The Benadryl had proved to be a godsend too, since his fever had broken by the time we got into the office.

Everyone gave him snuggles, but this time he wouldn’t look anyone in the eye. As soon as they were done giving him his medicine, he reached his paws out to me and hid his face in my shoulder as I scooped him into my arms.

“I guess he won’t like coming to the vet anymore,” one of the aides said with a sad smile. “We still love you, Oscar!”

The three-year strain of the distemper vaccine turned out to be the culprit. So now we know to stick with the one-year version, which he’s had before with no problems — but I’ll be bringing Benadryl in my purse from now on, just in case.

For the rest of the day, Oscar conked out our laps, fully wiped out. The television repair man eventually showed up around 7 p.m. and apologized profusely for having to reschedule on us. Frankly, we were grateful that he did, because if we hadn’t expected him to stop by in the afternoon, we would have gone out and wouldn’t have been there for Oscar’s emergency.

Sadly, after all that, our TV was a lost cause. Its power supply was kaput, and the manufacturer no longer makes the replacement part. But, thanks to our extended warranty package, we were fully reimbursed and got to pick out a newer, shinier set.

This new one certainly has a lot of bells and whistles and looks great, but I think I’ll always have a soft spot for the old one. After all, in a roundabout way, it did save my dog’s life.

In other Oscar-related news this week, the pup takes to the water in Pug on Board.

Earlier installments in Molly’s Chronicles of Oscar include Pug Love, All About Oscar, Oscar vs. Buster, Dog Days of Summer, and My Dog, the Boy.

Article © 2010 by Molly E. Weeks