Sometimes, I Am Wrong...
Fiona's eye was one of those times.
I have a six-year old Pomachon named Reggie. He is the love of my life (to the chagrin of my partner) and he rescued me during a dark time in 2016.
Reggie was not a rescue, in the strictest sense of the word, but I did save him too. I had just received my first unemployemt check following the MA F/R. More on that in future posts.
I started with the rescues, of course I did. I covered all of the humane societies in the metro area-I didn’t find my dog. I was determined. On the way back to my northeast Minneapolis apartment, I passed Har Mar Mall and it is a notorious pet shop.
Har Mar Pet Store was a throwback to the pet shops of old and not long for this world. Wire cages stuffed with tiny adorable kittens,glass aquariums brimming with squiggly puppies. “$2 to hold a puppy” was obscenely written on the glass. Shameless.
After paying my dues, I selected one female puppy after another (I was NOT going to deal with dog penises) from the glass encasement. I recall petting a shivering miniature schnauser, cowering at my leg, she hardly seemed a dog at all. Next.
I peered into the cage again and saw a blur of gray and white fur, a floppy mop of a dog. The orange markered sign indicated the puppy was 6 months old and was selling for a reduced price. I asked to see him.
The puppy was brought out on a leash and immediately began to zoom around the store with me in tow. It took a full round before I actually saw his face. Then he looked up at me with sharp, smart, gleaming coffee-colored eyes and it was done. We’ve been together ever since.
In October of 2021, I moved out of a house with my sister and her dogs and into an apartment with my partner, Reggie and my two cats. Reggie was lonely and bored. I made it two months before I started looking at rescues, my baby needed a friend.
Enter Fiona. My partner and I rescued her from a local organization just before the new year. She’s a black and white terrier mix of some sort, DNA test to be forthcoming. She’s six months old.
I will level with you-I got her for Reggie.
I was not prepared for how hard I would fall for her. She and Reg are opposite temperaments. True to form, she takes after my partner with his calm demeanor and optimitist outlook.
She’s also a sleeper, just like John. She sleeps slapped up against my back, leg, or neck, and she’s a furnace. I routinely awake doused in sweat with a furry ball stuck to my backside. It’s wonderful.
Fiona has allergies. I routinely wipe clear discharge from her eyes, no big deal, we call it “doing eyes” and all of us participate. Two weeks ago, something was different. One morning I found her with her left eye matted shut, a clear indication of pink eye.
I called John and we decided she should see a vet for medication. I am not a fan of vets, I don’t trust them. We chose a vet based on a “first appointment free” coupon we found online.
Big mistake. Don’t go to Banfield, please.
The vet prescribed Terramycin to be applied 2x/day on the inside of the lower lid. We began the treatment. Two days later, things were much worse. Fiona’s inner third eyelid had become infected. It had become incredibly inflamed and highly visible-it was bright red and stretched over her iris, almost to the point of occlusion.
It was horrifying. I could barely look at her without wincing and sometimes crying with disgust. She could feel the panic radiating from both of us every time she looked at us. We called another vet.
This time, we were able to accompany her back to the examining room, Reg in tow with a new do from Wolfgang (best groomer I have found in the Asheville area). I had done my research and had already diagnosed her with Cherry Eye.
Cherry eye is a highly disfiguiring condition that runs in certain breeds, terriers in particular. It is not life-threatening, but very uncomfortable for dog and owner. The third eyelid becomes prolapsed and bulges with a red mass. The only solution is surgery, and even then it’s possible it will come back.
I was so sure it was cherry eye I had begun researching pet insurance and requesting quotes. I found that the surgery was common and would be around $800. Insurance would most likely not cover it because at this point it had become a pre-existing condition.
The vet was an aging hippie, an iconic Asheville resident. He examined Fi’s eye (she was SO good!) and administered drops for a stain test.
“Is it cherry eye?” I asked. “No, it’s not cherry eye, different presentation,” the vet replied. A warm, smooth wave of relief washed over me and John and I exchanged hopeful looks.
He proceeded to pull her lower lid down and said, “oh, well now there we go. That might be cherry eye.” My heart sank to the floor, tears welled in my eyes. John was mute. The vet went on to explain the condition, I tuned out as it was what I had read nearly verbatim.
We were given antibiotic drops with steroids, directed to adminsiter 3x/day and return in a week to assess. We left dejected and sad, our poor pup was going under the knife.
We began the treatment immediately. The next morning, the swollen lid had receded. The next morning, even more so. Forty-eight hours later, Fi’s eye had returned to normal with no sign of infection or inflammation.
Now surgery is off the table and I can look my puppy in the eye without cringing. I am so glad I was wrong.