Anyone Else Go On Vacation and Have Someone Lose An Eye? Just Us?

Y’all. Y’ALL.

I don’t even know how to begin with this story. I haven’t posted in over a week and I’m coming back with a DOOZY.

A little over a month ago I booked a sitter to watch our dogs so that we could go skiing this past weekend. We used the same sitter we used in December during our White Elephant weekend, so we felt comfortable with her.

On Thursday morning – the day we were dropping off the dogs and leaving for our vacation – she called me to say she had accidentally double-booked. Now, my profile for my pops specifically says I do NOT want double-booking with other dogs because I don’t want to take a chance on Dobby getting freaked out by other dogs. In December the sitter had called me the week before our reservation to say she’d had another request for the same time, and I said no, do not double book. So she didn’t. Apparently this time around she "forgot" and booked the other person after booking our stay.

Of course with me being at work, and us leaving for the mountains as soon as we got home from work, I had no choice but to say okay, since I knew we wouldn’t have enough time to find someone else to watch our dogs for us.

When I took the dogs over there, I spent 15-20 minutes in the room with all four dogs (my two and the other two) to monitor how they would get along. The puppy owned by the sitter’s other client kept getting in Dobby’s face, and so I told the sitter NOT to let Dobby and the puppy near each other, but to keep them separated because it was clear that Dobby was agitated and nervous with the puppy’s overly exuberant behavior. She said that would be no problem and she’d keep the puppy upstairs. The minute she moved the puppy into the other room, Dobby calmed down – it was CLEAR the puppy was too much for him. But she assured me she’d keep them separated.

So off we went to the mountains, excited that the kids were going to go skiing for the first time in their lives.

The next day we’re at the mountain, having a good time, when I get a call on my phone – it’s the sitter. Turns out, two things had happened in less than 24 hours after we dropped off our dogs. First, the puppy and Dobby had been playing together (note: AGAINST MY REQUEST) and when they got a bit riled up, she reached in to separate them and Dobby bit her hand. I was furious because had she listened to me and not put those dogs together in the room, things would have been fine. She said she had a puncture wound that needed to be looked at.

But that’s not all. Somehow she had “bumped” Chilly in the eye with her knee, and now it was “oozing” (her word, not mine). Did she have my permission to take him to the vet? Yes, absolutely. She played it down like it wasn’t too bad, and even sent me a hazy hard-to-see picture of Chilly’s eye.

A couple hours later, as my kids are kicking butt skiing on the bunny slopes, the vet calls and tells us that she’ll need to remove Chilly’s eye immediately due to a complete rupture. She said, “I thought it was possibly an ulcer, but the bloodwork came back normal, and it looks like it was caused by, most likely, blunt force trauma.”

Blunt. Force. Trauma.

I immediately got on the phone with the service that provided the dog sitter and got in touch with their insurance people on the phone – the rep was very nice and horrified that such an injury had taken place. After a few discussions they agreed to pay for all expenses related to the surgery, and would also look into the fact that the sitter had broken a host rule AND ignored all my requests.

You see, the dogsitting company has a requirement that hosts only have THREE dogs on the house at any given time. This sitter had four dogs AND a cat (owned by the same people that had the two other dogs). Not only that, but she didn’t tell the company’s insurance rep that she had four dogs in the house – she told them she had three. “That’s not true,” I said. “She had FOUR and a cat.” “That’s definitely against our rules.”

In further conversations with the vet, she admitted that she didn’t think the sitter had too much common sense, given that she asked the vet to sew her bite wound and give her antibiotics. The vet informed her she was an ANIMAL doctor, not a PERSON doctor, and recommended she go to urgent care. And even after the sitter left the vet’s office she called back about an hour later inquiring about antibiotics. My vet was NOT impressed with that particular sitter. Obviously, neither am I.

From the mountains, Denis and I debated what to do. A friend of ours, HWT, had generously offered to pick up Dobby and even pick up Chilly from the vet. But she would not be able to provide 24-hour care for Chilly after the surgery.

In the end, Denis and I drove back home Friday night to get Chilly while our friend picked up Dobby. And do you know that when my friend arrived, she found ALL THREE DOGS and the cat in the same room? Yep, the idiot sitter had put Dobby in the same room as the puppy AGAIN. HWT said that when she walked in the house Dobby ran to her, clearly desparate to get out of that atmosphere. No kidding.

When we picked up Chilly from the vet, this is what he looked like:

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Pitiful, right? Poor thing. We got tons of pills for him – antibiotics, painkillers, anti-inflammatories.

But that’s not the end of the story. I drove back to the mountains on Friday night do that the kids could have another day of skiing. Denis stayed home with the dogs. On Saturday afternoon Denis texted me to ask me to come home that afternoon rather than Sunday morning. Chilly was not walking, not breathing well, not eating, not drinking, not taking his meds. Just not good, overall.

The kids and I drove home and I was able to get Chilly to take his meds, but other than that, he was not acting right. Within a few hours he was clearly struggling and so I took him to the animal ER. I really thought he was going to die on the way over – that’s how bad he was.

It turned out, the wrap that the vet put around his head had tightened up with his fur under his neck, and was slowly suffocating him. The second the ER tech cut off the bandages, Chilly stood up on his own and began breathing normally. I almost burst into tears when they came walking into the lobby a moment later (I hadn’t even finished filling out the paperwork they gave me). He saw me – with his one good eye – and began wagging his tail and walking over to me. I’d never been so happy to see a one-eyed dog in my whole life. The ER tech explained about the bandage and that it was freak thing that no one could have foreseen. She said had I not brought him in that night, I’d have found him dead in the morning.

Imagine the GUILT and REGRET I’d feel had I not taken him to the ER. Oh my word, it’s staggering even thinking about it.

I took him home and the family was so happy to see the complete change in Chilly when we walked in the door. Yes, he walked in on his own (unlikely when we left and I had to carry him and put him in the car).

On Saturday night I stayed up with him (Denis had been up all night with him on Friday) and monitored his activity. He was able to sleep comfortably and even went outside for a minute or two around 5 a.m.

Yesterday I emailed the dogsitting service and let them know that I wanted the sitter we used to be removed from their site and that she may LOVE dogs, but she doesn’t KNOW dogs, This is clear by the negligence she showed in putting Dobby with the puppy – TWICE – despite my request to separate them and despite her getting bit. With Dobby being as quirky as he is, I have no doubt that had that puppy gotten in his face more than he already did – that puppy would have his own life-threatening injuries right now. And who’s fault would it have been? Not mine. The sitter’s. And what’s sad is she clearly doesn’t understand that since she had the dogs together in one room when HWT went to go pick up Dobby and bring him home.

Needless to say, I put a scathing, negative review for the sitter on the site, and also requested that she be removed as a host altogether. The insurance rep that I spoke with said they would complete their investigation and decide what to do, but from the looks of it, they’d be removing her as a host. And in case you are wondering, I’m not going to name the dogsitting service. The reason is that they are a national company with many local and regional offices, so your mileage may vary. While I ended up choosing an irresponsible local host for my dogs, you may get a great one if you find one in Boulder, Colorado, or Orlando, Florida.

So that’s our story of the vacation when someone lost an eye. From now on we will let the dogs stay at home and have someone either stay at our house the entire time or arrange for a trusted family friend to come check on them a few times a day. Or we’ll just take them with us. But we will NOT use a sitter service ever again. Ever. EVER.

Chilly on Sunday afternoon, suffering only from the ignominy of the Cone of Shame:

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My Signature

If you liked that post, read on...

Cats and Dogs on February 24th, 2005

Mr. Fish Jr. on January 17th, 2006

The Animals In Our Lives on January 3rd, 2008

The End of the Ginger Era on April 18th, 2012

One comment

  1. Wow, that is quite a story. SOOOO sad to hear Dobby was anxious and about the loss of Chilly’s eye (and close call even with death). Glad everyone is back safe and sound now!!

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