I’ve spoken of our foster dogs before. This episode features Miss Shelby the three-year-old female Chihuahua. Shelby is very sweet and a bit “fluffy.” We don’t tell her that she’s about 8 pounds overweight. Which doesn’t sound like much but when you’re talking about a dog that should weigh 6 pounds, that’s quite a bit of excess “fluff.” You can imagine that she hasn’t had a great amount of exercise prior to rescue and let me tell you, she does not enjoy exercise. Keep that in mind when you read this. Miss Shelby is really calm, loving, and trusting. My husband may have changed the trust part.
Shelby has had eye allergies since before she came into rescue. Her eyes water terribly and obviously bother her. She’s been on Benadryl for the allergies but it just wasn’t working. We took her to an adoption event on Sunday and one of the ladies there is very K-9 knowledgeable. She suggested to my husband that we try Zyrtec instead. We were more than willing to try something different to make Shelby feel better. I’m thinking we didn’t succeed.
Shelby really enjoys her naps during the day. For the majority of the day (if allowed) she hangs out on her dog bed. On Tuesday, I was sitting at my desk doing some computer work. Shelby came out by me and went out the dog door; nothing abnormal. She came back in through her dog door in the other room as if she was doing laps. She did this a few times; in one dog door, down the hall, through the dining room, out the other dog door. It was really cute. So cute in fact, that I text Marc and my daughter telling them what she was doing. For whatever reason I happened to look at the clock and it was 9:05 (that becomes relevant shortly). She kept doing her laps and I got back to my work. A bit later I glanced at Shelby and she was panting pretty hard and still doing laps. It was now 9:45 (see I told you it’d be relevant). I called Marc at work and told him I thought something might be wrong. I told him to come in the house quietly so he wouldn’t disturb Shelby and he could see what she was doing. When he got home around 10:10 (relevant again) Shelby stopped, looked at him and went back to her laps. On one trip she stopped at her water bowl, took one lap of water and quickly looked left then right, took another lap of water and did the same thing. I told Marc something had to be wrong with her because she hadn’t stopped and it was like she was on crack and tweaking (tweaking is what a person high on crack does, they have so much “energy” they literally cannot stop moving-that’s a bit of knowledge for you-I love it when I can be educational)! I posted on the rescue site that we’re fostering Shelby for and told them what was going on. I immediately got responses saying it sounds like she’d had a seizure and that I needed to get her to the animal hospital. I was also told to put her in her crate so she didn’t get overheated (remember we’re talking about Arizona here). I did that and called the animal hospital. While I waited for our appointment time Shelby stayed in the crate. She was turning around then sitting. When she sat, she did a perfect Stevie Wonder impression with her head! Total seriousness! She would sit and then she’d swing her head back and forth while looking towards the roof of her crate. Then she’d turn in a circle or two and start doing the Stevie stuff again. There was definitely something serious going on.
Finally we got to the veterinarian’s office. We explained to the tech what was going on and of course she could see the whole Stevie stuff happening. She asked if it was possible Shelby had gotten into something and I assured her that I had checked the house and yard and there wasn’t anything. Then she asked if she was on any medications. Marc said he’d given her Zyrtec that morning. For whatever reason, I had grabbed the Zyrtec box so I pulled it from my purse and gave it to her. The tech left it on the counter. When the doctor walked in, she asked the same stuff. When she saw the Zyrtec box she said, “You can’t give her that; it has pseudoephedrine in it!” Marc and I looked at each other and without words (none needed after being married for 28 years) said, “What the hell is pseudoephedrine and why can’t she have it?” Of course we didn’t need the answer because the vet was now lecturing us with the “you stupid idiots” tone. Now for those of you who don’t know, pseudoephedrine is the main ingredient in Crystal Meth. Any drug that has it as an ingredient now has to be purchased at the pharmacy counter and is no longer on a shelf in any store. OK, back to Shelby. The vet went on to lecture us and at some point in her lecture I heard her say, “Zyrtec-D.” Marc hadn’t bought Zyrtec, he’d bought Zyrtec-D! The “D” is the decongestant which pseudoephedrine is used for. Now it was all becoming very clear and finally we understood why she was doing laps for an hour and doing the Stevie stuff. She actually WAS tweaking! I felt so bad for her. The vet was still acting like we were complete dumbasses for giving it to her; as if we knew she couldn’t have it but gave it to her just for fun. She told us, in a really crappy manner, that Shelby didn’t need allergy medicine she needed saline washes and eye lubricant and we should never listen to “those people” at adoption things. The woman suggested Zyrtec not Zyrtec-D. The doctor then made sure she said, “Saline. Just saline. Not contact solution.” Again, like we were the two dumbest people in a 3,000 mile radius. She then told us they’d keep Shelby a few hours and give her fluids to try to flush the drug from her system faster. She said that right before she said, “Pfff, I wouldn’t even take that,” and then she left and not a moment too soon in my opinion. When the tech (who was so much nicer and caring) came in to get Shelby I couldn’t stop crying. All I kept thinking was, “Oh my God we almost killed her!” I felt so terrible. I felt like the worst person ever and I felt so very bad for what Shelby was feeling. The tech told me it was a mistake, it happens, and Shelby would be fine. I still felt like crap over it but we left and then Marc went back four hours later to pick Shelby up.
When Shelby came home she didn’t have the extreme “doing laps energy” but she still had the Stevie going on. Thankfully, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been. I was so grateful. Also, besides the fluids, the vet gave her a sedative to try to bring her down. Unfortunately, I honestly couldn’t tell if it worked or not. So, Shelby sat with me on the sofa. Actually, she walked on me. She went from the arm of the sofa to my lap and back. Now mind you, I was sitting next to the arm of the sofa so it was a short trip for her. Finally after two hours she sat on my lap but only for about 30 seconds at a time and then she’d get restless again. After another hour, I got her to actually lay down on my lap. Even when she did, she did the Stevie. Also, the laying down wasn’t for any longer than the sitting had been. So after about two hours, we moved to the recliner. I thought that if I was leaning back then she would do the same because she loves sleeping on you. Uh yea, no such luck. Now she just had more room to walk. She went from my knees up to my shoulder, turned around with her rear against my cheek (well I wasn’t about to tell her no since we’d almost OD’d her) and back to my knees. I kept talking to her and trying to settle her down but she still had too much on board. She started laying down again but as soon as her head rested on my arm she’d pick it right back up and do a mild Stevie. A few minutes later she’d do the same thing. After two hours she would finally lay her head on my arm and keep it there for a few minutes. It seemed like every 15 or 20 minutes she’d stay there just a bit longer. I took her in our room, put her in her crate after I moved it next to my side of the bed and I watched her. She would lay her head down then immediately pick it up and do the Stevie thing. That went on for about 30 minutes before she finally slept. I was so happy when I saw her fall into a real sleep. That was at 3:30 in the morning (relevance). 18 hours had passed and I was so relieved because Shelby’s mind and body slowed down enough to give her some rest.
Shelby slept until breakfast time. She got up, ate, went outside for a few minutes and back to her crate. Her crate door was open but she chose to sleep in there until dinner. She ate, went outside and right back to the crate. The poor girl had been awake for 18 straight hours the day before. That’s unheard of for a dog. She was forced to do it unfortunately but she was definitely making up for it and most likely she felt like she was sleeping off a hangover.
Shelby is better and I’m so thankful. I felt so incredibly bad and will never forget what happened. I don’t feel stupid like the vet hoped, but I do feel awful. I know what Shelby was feeling was so much worse though. We did learn that you never give a dog an over-the-counter medication that has more than one ingredient in it. That was knowledge for us. We learned what the wrong medication can do to a dog. Again, knowledge for us. I also learned, never send my husband to get medication because he doesn’t actually read the box. Seriously though, if I’m being honest, I can’t say I would’ve known not to give Shelby the “D” stuff. But, I’m so anal, I definitely would’ve bought exactly what she told me too. Truly, I can’t blame Marc (but I do), he didn’t know there was a difference (he didn’t read the box), and of course he thought he was buying the correct medicine (ditto on reading the box).
Thankfully everything turned out well. Shelby is back to being Shelby. We certainly learned some things. Shelby’s rescue leader didn’t take her from me; which I was afraid of. Actually, all the rescue people were so wonderful with advice and support. You’ll never find more loving people than those within the dog loving community and I’m happy to call myself one of them.