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Over a week ago Millie started limping badly. She could not step on her left front leg at all. When I called my regular vet, his mobile was turned off. I gave it a few hours then called again, it was still turned off. At that time it was too late to call my friend who had referred me to him. Next morning I called her to ask why he was not picking up and she knew nothing about him or his whereabouts!
Ok, so I had wasted a whole day without Millie getting any medical attention. I had heard that a new veterinary clinic had opened at a nearby compound, so I took Millie, the driver and one of the gardeners and off we went. A young vet was there who had a look at Millie’s arm, gave her a thorough examination, made sure she had no injuries, nothing stuck in her paw, but could not tell what was wrong. He said quite frankly that he had not much experience with bones and would rather I had x-rays made to try pinpoint the problem. He was helpful enough to get me the number and approximate location of another clinic nearby that had an x-ray machine.
So off we went again, got slightly lost, but finally found this other clinic. It was a slightly larger clinic, had two young vets there, a receptionist and an assistant. Made me write out a comprehensive history about Millie and all pertinent details about me, then finally took her in for the x-ray. They took the first of her paw up to the elbow. I was quite surprised. I had told them to look at her shoulder, that the rest of her leg was ok. They said they had to make sure and that they will take a second picture to see. Ok. A second x-ray was done. This time from her elbow to just below the shoulder. That was two hours after I had arrived, and still now conclusive results. They then said they could not see anything wrong and will prescribe a pain killer then I should go back to them in three days to have a third x-ray to the shoulder. They then put in 12 unidentified tablets in a bottle, stuck an illegible hand-written label on it and told me to give her one tablet per day. Then they gave me a huge bill! That was IT! Charlatans!
Once out of there I started asking around for a vet who knew what he was doing. I finally found someone with experience and an x-ray machine, whose clinic was at the top of the street where my apartment in town was. I called and set up an appointment for the next day.
Next day, again, we all trooped down to the vet in town, got there on time but he was over an hour late! I was furious. But I kept a tight rein on my temper for Millie’s sake. When he finally showed up and started examining her I could see the difference. He knew what he was about. He gave her a thorough exam, then asked me a few questions about how she behaves in the garden, and how extensive was her limp.

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He had her walk up and down the corridor, then diagnosed a strained tendon. No need for an x-ray. The ones previously taken, which I had shown him, were very poor indeed and showed nothing. He prescribed two medicines for a ten day period, said she should be kept as quiet as possible to help the tendon heal and charged me a quarter of what the previous clinic had!
That is how Millie came to live indoors with me. A lot of adjustments had to be made to accommodate a large, strong dog living indoors with me, a small dog and four cats. The first and most drastic adjustment was for the cats. Two of them completely disappeared, Sugar and Spicy.

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They took up residence on the third floor and only showed up on the second when they needed to eat or drink.

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Snowy still lived in his calm, placid world and only moved when Millie nudged him with her nose, while Pixie established boundaries by ferociously snarling and spitting at Millie, so she kept her distance.

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The only person for whom she recognised no boundaries was me!
She sleeps in my bed – and often either on my legs or with her head on top of mine.

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It is a keen race as to who reaches the toilet bowl first, she often wins and I have to patiently wait for her to finish drinking before I could use it! Whatever I do at the sink she has to be standing right there next to me, either watching me directly or through the bathroom mirror. My shower fascinates her, I cannot close the shower doors completely, she has to keep me in sight. She loves the taste of my shower gel.
Her medication is not a problem. She loves soft white cheese. So two blobs of white cheese with the two tablets buried in there are easily swallowed.
She is fascinated by my Pilates exercises. My friends and I have Pilates sessions twice a week and it is impossible to keep her out. She thinks I am playing with her. My Pilates exercises had never been so strenuous, nor such fun as with Millie.

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All evening she lies there on the floor in the living room, except when she glances a slinking cat and gives immediate chase, or when she suddenly feels an overwhelming affection for me and rushes in for a lick or two.

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Living with Millie is a joy, but an exhausting one. When she is fully recovered and has to go back to the rest of the clan in the garden, I shall miss her. But I think by that time I would be in dire need of getting my life back.
29 March 2016

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