Whenever there is an emergency you see some people running from the incident and others running towards it. Most of those running into danger are first responders and heroes, a small percentage are those who enjoy getting to the edge in some kind of secondary thrill. I found this true in this outbreak of influenza.
Personally, my dogs are public. I am active on social media and the dogs are in the front, I find it a way to let people see show dogs as pets. The president of my parent club called me a Social Media Influencer which made me laugh – I mean I barely listen to myself. I cannot imagine anyone actually following in my footsteps. My life should have a warning label. And none of my friends are very impressed with me and my influence LOL. Yeah I told one that and she looked at me like I was insane. Yeah I agree. I am just having fun with my dogs. Your Mileage May Vary.
So when my dogs got sick and there was not even a doubt in my mind not to share this. I mean if it was not for a few others like Richard Hawkes and Edy Blum, I would have had no idea what to expect. We were in the first wave of this so there was no manual on what to do. I have many friends that are vets and only one had dealt with influenza and that was almost a decade ago.
I figured social media was a way to network and so I went public and through going public I made contact with others. Between those contacts and my co-owners we all tried to wade through this and come out the other end. I admit while things were bad I lived in a vacuum. Literally I did not know what day it was. Trying to work full time and take care of dogs left little time to think.
Many of my friends called or texted just to check in. There were some noticeable absences of people I truly thought would be there, but again I did not have time to take inventory of who contacted, who texted. People have lives and while this was MY crisis, it was not theirs. It was not until I came up for air it really hit me. Dead silence.
After really thinking about it I realized that some of the first people that checked on me were in it because of some kind of high they get from a crisis. All of a sudden they acted like they were in the know and were right there next to me. It was strange to read a stranger using my dogs to push their agenda. And not just my dogs other dogs too.
People started saying that this was *just* kennel cough and only dogs that were already with compromised immune systems could get it. Two weeks covered in dog vomit has a tendency to bring out a side of you that only the Exorcist usually can achieve. When one women told me that my dogs would not die because Merck told her that I literally felt my head spin. The night before I had been up with Bacon, my dogs were really sick and some random person who had NO sick dogs felt that she could comment on MY situation? I realized later it was fear. She needed to tell herself that this was no big deal, her dog was out showing and so her fear had her convinced that thie flu was not as bad as what people were saying. I get that now – at the time? Yeah not so much.
And of course the conspiracy people also came out. People were calling my VET, emailing my vet in hopes to get confirmation my dogs were sick (I still have no earthly clue why I would make this up). My vet emailed at least one of them back and said basically they were not currently treating CIV in their facility (a truth, as my dogs never went in, I got all care in the parking lot) and that they would not comment on the care patients received.
This became the “smoking gun” that I was lying. That my dogs were not sick or some were sick or hell I don’t know I was faking this. They contacted people and spread this ridiculous story. I realized later again it was fear. Fear that this disease could rapidly go through an entire kennel. Fear that dozens and dozens could be exposed to this by just one dog. If they denied my dogs were ill, then this meant that there was less of a chance for their dogs to get ill.
Still not sure exactly why I would make this up but I dutifully contacted my vet to get a letter that said he treated all of my dogs. As he said – who wants a letter saying their dogs are SICK? We also came up with a code word so they knew it was me when I called. I cannot fathom why anyone would even think to contact my vet. I mean just ask ME, I would have been happy to discuss this. But again discrediting me and my dogs being ill I think in their minds meant that their dogs would be safe.
And honestly I take no position on showing or not showing. I support my friends who chose to stay home, I support my friends who are showing. I don’t think we need to be Chicken Little nor an ostrich with our head in the sand. Make an educated decision that works for YOU. People tried to get me to condemn people. I would just say ‘do you think for a moment if I thought XXXXX’s dogs were in danger I would sit idly by?’ I mean these were dogs I loved, owned by friends. I know and trust these people to do right by their dogs. Again this is a decision people need to make for themselves. PERIOD.
I guess really there is no point to this. In the end I probably would go public again even knowing what I know now. I say I would not after some of these insane things, but I seem to say that and do something else. But I will say I have many bumps and bruises from some of the backlash. I know there are people right now reading this and looking for meaning that is not there or combing through everything I have written to discredit me. I know it and I am okay. Why I decided to not write this for a magazine. I did not want to compromise what I wanted to say and how I would say it.
Really what I hope is that people will take this and make an educated decision for their dogs. Have a conversation with your vet to determine if your dogs should be vaccinated. I just hope that anyone else that gets this diagnosis can read this and see that there is hope. Our story is not complete. We have a lot of rehabilitation that needs to be done. I am not sure if my dogs will ever be able to show again. But all I asked them was to BREATH and they are doing that.
The rest will be what it will be