Coloring the Void

living nomadically


Belle was sick. Some time between the Arctic Circle and 60 Mile Camp, she started throwing up. When we stopped at 60 Mile Camp, she ran around frantically trying to find grass to eat. All that was there was dusty weeds. In the morning, she didn’t seem any better. Listless, feverish, and craving water, we decided to move as quickly as possible south.

Since we already knew there was grass and a decent campsite at River’s Edge, we called them; they had space available for three nights. We made a beeline for the campground. Some time between the Yukon River and the end of the Elliott, Belle started sneezing. It wasn’t her usual lady like snuff but a body shaking, spastic ACHOO! followed by two or three more. He nose started running. She looked totally miserable.

We set up in the campground and managed to get a benadryl in her. She was doing her business regularly but she didn’t eat much. We also fed her baby aspirin in hopes of bringing down the fever. By the second night at the campground, she was looking much better. The vomiting had stopped and the sneezing was much more rare. She still snarfed occasionally, but nothing out of the ordinary.

We woke the morning after the third night – set to pull out with a much improved and rested companion. But Belle was having problems walking – her back legs wouldn’t cooperate. He head tilted and she would completely loose focus of everything around her. We called a vet. Aurora Animal Clinic was right up the road and could see us at 3PM. Mike went to the campground office to arrange another night.

In October last year, while we were in Hunting Island South Carolina, Belle had a stroke. Or vestibular disease, which looks like a stroke. The vet we saw at time, Jim Holden of Veterinary Wellness Care, was pretty wonderful. He told us that chances are it was one or the other and that he could perform a dozen tests but after spending $1000 the prognosis would be the same: she would recover or she wouldn’t; an accurate diagnosis would not make a difference. He stated that she would either improve over the next few weeks or she wouldn’t and that only time would tell how much the event effected her. Lucky for us, Belle got better and better every day, improving to almost completely normal in a few short months.

Because we knew what the first attack/stroke looked like, and because we knew the likelihood of a second attack/stroke were very high, we have been watching her for any changes. They came that morning at the RV Park. We were really worried this time as she was now 17 years old – older than most Jack Russells live and about the end of a Chihuahua’s life span. We had considered every day with her for the last eight months bonus time. She is incredibly spoiled, but a very happy dog.

At 20 minutes before 3PM, Belle made a miraculous recovery. She was bouncing around (though her back legs gave out a few times) and begging for a treat. She knew we had called the vet! At the vet’s office, our suspicions were confirmed. Chances are, her allergy attack and sneezing caused a stroke or a return of the vestibular symptoms. The vet gave us antibiotics, anti-nausea pills, and doggy prednisone. And wished us the best. She stated she had never seen a dog survive a second attack but Belle seemed to be doing fine.

We returned to camp and drugged our dog. The one with the most immediate effect was the anti-biotic. She must have picked up an infection somewhere on the Dalton. During the four nights in Fairbanks, at least one of us was with her at all times. I went to the grocery while Mike stayed home. He went to wash the Jeep, I stayed home. We didn’t see any of Fairbanks except the road to the Vet’s office, about five miles away. But, we aren’t really city/shopping people so I don’t think we missed much.

(It is now a couple of weeks later and Belle is doing wonderfully. She is still demanding treats and people food and has a sluggish lazy day once in a while. But for the most part, she is close to being back to her old self. She loses her back legs once in a while and when tired, has a head tilt. We have started leaving her alone again, for up to two or three hours at a time, but try to stay pretty close the short bus when we can’t bring her with us.)

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2 thoughts on “Fairbanks?

  1. So glad to read that after some tough days Belle bounced back.

  2. Getting sick in an unfamiliar place is one of the scariest things about RVing, whether it happens to us or to our pets. I’m happy to hear that Belle is back to her old self again.

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