" Before I say any more, please allow me to state for the record that I am an intelligent human being and an experienced dog owner who has dealt with many different health problems in our dogs over the years. However, I am most likely to come out of this appearing stupid and irresponsible. In this instance, I couldn't care less how I appear because if just one persons judging of me, my decisions or my actions makes this story stick in their minds sufficiently that, should they ever find themselves in this very situation, they'll act faster and not have their precious pet pay the price that ours did then my publicised shame will be worth it.
Casey was a bossy, determined, food-and-drink stealing ninja. She was 5.5kgs of stealth wrapped in a costume of cute innocence that usually helped her to get away with murder! We all knew to be on guard of plates/bowls/cups/glasses when Little Miss Trouble was on the prowl, but we bitterly underestimated her powers of stealthy determination on New Year's Eve 2015.
I had spent the evening with Casey cuddled on my lap and beneath a blanket - her favourite position. The warmth generated was sufficient that I did not notice when she very quietly and smoothly slipped off of my lap and onto the floor, remaining covered by the blanket. Whilst so well hidden, Casey made her way to my glass of Baileys that had been placed far out of her reach, but still on the floor. The noise of slurping alerted me and I discovered a smug little girl - still under the blanket - smacking her lips beside a now empty short tumbler.
My initial thought was that Baileys is more cream and sugar than alcohol, but hit Google to see if there were any reports of bad things happening to dogs who drank Baileys. I found nothing but stories of slightly wobbly dogs who slept for two days and many sniggering comments about hangovers. Casey was a little wobbly, but otherwise fine, so I didn't hit the panic button.
It all then became a little giggly at her expense as she staggered around the lounge like an old drunk leaving the pub and couldn't make it on to the sofa without falling backwards, so I scooped her into my arms and snuggled her to try and prompt the start of her "sleeping it off".
She still wouldn't/couldn't settle properly after a little while so I decided to try and get her to drink. I picked her up and noted that she felt a bit floppy, but took her out to the water bowl and put her on the floor. She made no attempt to take her own weight and her head fell into the water bowl. I had no doubt that if I left her where she was then she would simply have drowned.
It stopped being funny very quickly.
Almost an hour had now passed since she'd drunk the Baileys and it was now that I contacted the vets. On New Year's Eve at 10pm. The conversation was light hearted and jokes were made about partying too hard, but the vet suggested we bring her in for a possible overnight stay with some fluids.
Once at the vets, initial observations were not alarming and we were reassured about the number of alcohol intoxication cases regularly seen over the Christmas and New Year periods. We were told that Casey would have bloods taken for testing and a fluid line put in before she was settled in a well padded crate for the night. At this point, the expected outcome was still the return of a sheepish and hungover terrier the following day. We left the vets at 10.30pm.
2016 was just 10 minutes old when the vet we'd seen just 1 hour and 40 minutes previously called to tell us that Casey was fitting, that they would obviously try to control it but what did I want them to do if she suffered a cardiac arrest.
I'd already posted to Facebook that our drunken girl was spending the night in the vets and, even after this update, it seemed unfathomable that the situation could be *that* serious and so the hangover jokes continued but I was bemused and worried.
I didn't sleep.
At 7.30am, our night vet called with the news that things weren't looking great. They'd tried Casey with various epilepsy medications and they'd each looked like they were working for a short while, but then the seizures would start again. They had now taken the decision to put Casey under a general anaesthetic to give her brain and body a rest. They were aware that this would involve far more intensive care on their part and knew that it wasn't a long term solution, but she could safely stay under for up to 24 hours. They would try to reduce the level of medication at regular intervals to see if the seizure activity had stopped and to try to assess whether our baby girl had suffered any brain damage. And then we were asked to visit. With those words, I nearly gave up all hope because I am very aware that vets don't usually want you to see your pets when they are still very sick and very unstable - they'd rather leave visiting until the pet is settled and comfortable.
We visited Casey and met a vet who told us that things were looking a little brighter than earlier but that the outlook was still very guarded as Casey had been so deeply anaesthetised for so long.
We were not prepared for the sight that would greet us.
Casey was in a drop sided cot in the main area away from the kennels and there were wires and tubes and lights and sounds and no movement from our special girl other than a little flickering of her closed eyes. It transpired that this eye movement was what had prompted the "little brighter" comment as even that hadn't been happening earlier. We didn't stay long. It was clear that Casey didn't know we were there and I was concerned that I'd be unable to contain my distress long enough to stop it from possibly filtering through to our unconscious girl.
I slept an exhausted sleep and awoke at 9am feeling confused. If we've ever had a pet in our vets overnight before, we've had an update around 7.30am from the night vet as they end their shift and another around 8.30/9am from one of the day vets to discuss the plan of action for the day. No morning update was very unusual. Within 2 minutes of waking and thinking this through, the phone rang. Despite being kept under a general anaesthetic, our little girl had started fitting again a few hours before, her temperature had rocketed, her blood pressure had plummeted and her heart was racing uncontrollably. There had been no updates because they'd been trying to save Casey's life. Or at least buy us enough time to get to her.
I had to wake my children with the news that they needed to dress as quickly as possible because we had to go and say goodbye to Casey. It was not possible to sustain her as she was and we would not allow her to suffer any further.
She looked just as she had the day before, except that she was now surrounded by cooling bags instead of heated pads. We spent a few minutes with her, whispering words of love and trying to hide the sound of our hearts shattering and lives splintering, and then she was given her release. It was all over so quickly.
So that's it. Alcohol will continue to be listed beside onions and chocolate on the toxic list and most people will continue to vaguely acknowledge its presence there and I bet everyone knows someone who has a funny story about a drunk dog, but there is nothing funny about seeing a family member suffering the way Casey did. None of the staff at our vet practice had ever seen a reaction like Casey's so maybe she was an unlucky one off or maybe she just had a less common reaction, but you need to know, as they now do, that this reaction is a very real possibility.
I hope that neither you nor your friends nor your family ever have to live through this but please PLEASE tell them about Casey. It may have made no difference to the outcome had we got her to the vets faster, but I have to live with that question forever. Don't waste that hour.
Please feel free to share this. Maybe you'll save a life."