13 September 2016

Pet Nightmare

I have not written a post about our pets for a long time.  Bessie and Perdie the dogs and Kismet the cat had to stay in Ipoh, Malaysia when we moved to Jeddah and live with a friend, our vet, while we waited for import permits. 
Bessie, our oldest dog is a loved and loving member of the family.
We have missed her terribly.
A few weeks ago we got some excellent news, Bessie and Kismet would be able to join us at the start of September.  Perdie is still waiting for an import permit.  While we were a little sad that our reunion with Perdita would be delayed a while longer we were over the moon at the prospect of seeing Bessie and Kismet again.  Bessie because, at 15 years old we know she does not have much longer with us and Kismet because she was only 6 months old when we had to leave her and we were worried that she had forgotten us. 

Bessie before travelling to KL,
old but strong and healthy
 We had some problems with Bessie’s export clearance.  The government vet in KL reported that she had ticks and needed to be cleaned.  Given that she had left our vet’s care tick free she can only have got them at the very expensive and apparently recommended pet hotel in KL.  We thought nothing of it as the handling company said they would arrange treatment and it should not impact on her travel date.  The weekend before the pets were due to arrive was hectic, our daughters celebrate their birthdays on 1 and 2 September so I had two lots of cupcakes to bake for the girls to bring into class and then two cakes to bake for their joint birthday party.

After just a few days in KL, this is the photograph that gave us nightmares.
Tick fever was slowly killing our beloved dog.
During the party on the Saturday we got some very disturbing news, Bessie had become very sick with an infection and was being sent for blood tests.  They sent us a photo of an open and infected wound that had developed on a patch of dry skin on her elbow.  Stuck thousands of kilometres away from our pet we started to become very worried.  At this stage, however the handling company were still talking about her recovering and being well enough to fly with a few days delay, we thought they were being optimistic given the photographs but we did not think the condition was too serious.  By the following day, however, her condition had deteriorated very badly and the emergency vet said she would recommend that Bessie be put to sleep. Our older children were distraught, Bessie has been with them all their lives,  friend and confidante.  Mr EE and I were heartbroken, Bessie joined our family when we returned from honeymoon, our first ‘baby’.  I know owners are partial but she has always been a very special dog. People who are scared of dogs still want to pet her, with her fuzzy face she looks like the eponymous hero of the popular Hairy MacClary children’s books.  She has comforted us and our family members during the hardest times of our lives and given so many people so much joy.  She deserved much more than dying alone in a hospital in a strange city.

The so called luxury pet hotel ha allowed Bessie's
elbow to get wet and infected.  How long did they wait
before seeking treatment for a wound to get this bad?

Without another thought we booked a last minute flight to KL, I packed a carry on and went straight to the airport.  Given the time difference I would be landing late afternoon on Monday 5 September, the 15th anniversary of the day Bessie came to live with us.  I emailed the hospital to ask them to do all they could to keep her alive until I arrived.  Our vet in Ipoh said she would drive down to KL after work so she could also say goodbye to Bessie.  I spent the flight alternately watching rubbish to try to keep my mind off things and scrolling through photographs of Bessie praying that I would get there in time.  The flight was almost empty which was a good thing because I must have looked demented with tears streaming down my face the whole time.  Without luggage I was able to speed through immigration.  Not knowing where the hospital was and almost dropping with exhaustion I decided to get a taxi instead of a rental car.  The hospital gave him directions and told me that Bessie was still holding on.  They also offered to suspend their normal 15 minute visiting restrictions and allow me to spend as much time as I needed with Bess.

Bessie was very sick and struggling to respond
when I found her.
When I arrived she was hooked up to a drip in a ward kennel.  She was very sick but  made an effort to lift her head when she saw me, it crashed straight back down to the floor.  I crawled in there with her, stroking her head and holding her paw.  Her breathing was shallow and laboured and her heart hardly beat.  She snuffled at the old socks I had brought from Mr EE and the children, we wanted her to know that even though I was the only one there, the others had not forgotten her and when we called Jeddah  she stirred at the sound of the voices at the other end of the phone. 

After lots of cuddling (I lay in the cage with her)
She finally managed to take some water from her bowl.
I sat there for about 4 hours and in that time she seemed to perk up a little.  She was able to take water from my hand and made small movements to try to push closer to me.  It broke my heart, left for 8 months and she still wanted nothing more than to be with me.  By the time my own vet had arrived Bess was able to lift her head enough to take water from the bowl.  We looked through the medical tests, Bessie’s exposure to ticks had resulted in the infection which was causing her organs to shut down, alone in a strange place she had not had the will to fight.  Our vet thought that in more familiar surroundings Bess would perk up.  She offered to take her back to her own surgery and nurse her there,  I could visit until my return flight.  While she was sick the vet thought the move would not distress her any more than being alone and would give her a chance of recovery, if she did not get better we could put her to sleep in comfortable surroundings.  Mr EE and I discussed it over the phone and decided that if the vet thought it worth a try we would give it a go.  Suddenly a funeral trip had turned into a rescue mission.  We put Bessie on some towels in the back of the Drs car and she dropped me at a hotel before heading north.

I was relieved to see Kismet had not
suffered from her time in the hotel.
The next morning I found a hire car company and headed to the handling company offices.  Kismet was there ahead of her flight and given the condition Bessie had been in I wanted to check that she was ok, luckily she was fine and remembered me.  The visit also gave me a chance to go through a timeline of events and work out exactly what had happened as I want, eventually to put in a complaint about the pet hotel.
Bessie still sick bu looking brighter for being with loved ones
By the time I got up to Ipoh Bess really was a lot brighter, able to twitch her tail and take some liquid food.  After spending some time with her the vet took me to her home to visit Perdie, she had been a little down since Bessie (who she sees as a mother) and Kismet left but gave me the most rapturous of welcomes.  She climbed in my lap, licked my face and feet and pressed and leaned against me as though she never wanted to let me go.  If the hotel had allowed dogs I would have taken her with me.  
Perdie was over the moon to see me again
The following morning at the vets and Bessie looked like a different dog.  She had crawled off her bed in the night to do her business which was the first time we had seen her interested in self care.  She had taken her cannula out and was licking the paw it had been in.  Seeing her looking so much better we decided to try her on solid food and gave her a meal of steamed chicken and rice.  She was clearly hungry and I felt rather mean limiting her to a few bites so as not to upset her stomach.  Perdie was also happy to see me and we spent a happy few hours playing and throwing balls and I spoiled her with the biggest bone I could find.  

Wednesday morning, moving around and with
some light in her eyes.
Perdie still happy to see me.
When I got back to Bessie she was well enough to lick my hand and actively snuggle in to me.  What a difference a few days and some love can make.  We don’t know yet whether she will recover enough to be able to fly but if she does not our vet (who loves her almost as much as we do) will keep her for us for as long as she lives.  Hopefully being in a loving environment and having Perdie around will work wonders.  If she does fly, and when Perdie does, we will pay to have the pets transported to and from Ipoh to KL for vet checks and for the final flight, there is no way they will ever go to that pet hotel again and I will put in a formal complaint to the Malaysian authorities, the vet, who sits on several animal cruelty advisory boards will help me. My pet may be 15 years old but she is still loved and her life still has value, they neglected her until she became sick all the time charging me money for their ‘care’. 

Brighter by the minute
I almost did not want to leave on Thursday as I could see how much my presence meant to Bessie but I had to leave to get my flight.  Just before I left she stood up and was able to take a short walk outside to do her business.  An improvement beyond anything we could have hoped for.  We are not stupid, we know that at 15 Bessie could go at any time but we want her to be with people who love her and to give her every chance.  We are beyond grateful to the vet and so thankful that this happened in a country we could get to without visa problems.  Had this happened in Saudi, for example, or Kazakhstan we would never have been able to get to the dog.  I am also so proud of Master EE who, without prompting or rancour, gave up is chance to join his school trip to New York, so that I could fly to Malaysia to be with Bessie.  

Saying goodbye to Perdie
Just a few days after we thought she
would need to be put to sleep Bessie can stand!
The house in Jeddah is lovely and we are turning it into a home but it has always felt as though it is missing something.  Being with the dogs again made me realise that we are missing them, we have always had dogs and I don’t think any of us feel that a house can really be a home without a pet in it.  They clearly feel the same way about us.  That feeling was somewhat tempered when I walked through the door to see Kismet playing with the children, she makes the house a happier place by her presence and we hope one or both of our dogs can join us soon.

For more information and stories on expat pets please click the picture below.

The Ersatz Guide To Expat Pets

Posted as part of the Animal Tales blog link up.



  1. so sorry to here about the poor treatment of your dog and how wonderful that you were able to get back to see your dog and that she perked up and started to improve. 8 months is a long time for you all to have gone without seeing one another, hope she makes a full recovery and you can fly her out to Saudi

    1. Thanks! It really does seem that love and affection makes a big difference. She suddenly wanted to get better if that makes sense. Even though I had to leave her again I know she has the best care where she is. This morning she was smiling on an outdoor walk!

  2. I have tears streaming down my face and I am so glad you took that flight. Love is such a string healer and even if Bessie passes away now you know she will not be alone in an uncaring pet hotel. Thank you for sharing this post on #AnimalTales and I am looking forward to reading the post when you are reunited with all your pets.

    1. Thanks Rosie, it may seem strange to some that we used our 'emergency dying family member fund' that I am sure all expats have, to go and see our dog but she means the world to us all.

    2. I am so glad this tale has had a happy ending and thank you for adding this to the 100th #AnimalTales

  3. That's so awful the way she has been treated. I'm in tears. I'm glad she's doing better and hope you are together soon! #animaltales

    1. Thanks so much. She is doing a lot better now and we are hoping against hope she will be able to travel. If she can't we know she is in the next best place.

  4. I was so sad to read this but I'm happy she is better. Absolutely terrible, lucky she had a dose of your love and care to help her get well again.

    1. Thanks, we were convinced I was flying to say our goodbyes, thank goodness she has recovered a little.

  5. What a happy and sad story! To think your poor old dog was neglected so badly at a pet hotel that it nearly killed her makes me so cross! I hope Bessie gets well enough to be able to join you back in Jeddah, but if not I hope she live rest of her days in the company of your vet, knowing love and happiness.


  6. Hi there! Reading about the treatment of your dog makes me sick to my stomach. There's a special place in hell for people who mistreat animals. How is she doing now? I know this was an old post you just linked up on #animaltales but hope she's OK!

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