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    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • July 11, 2014 in Columnists

    Dandelion — what would you pay to save a Kitty of a Lifetime?


    Dandelion before his crisis

    Dandelion before his crisis

    This is Dandelion. Nine days ago, he was lumping about with his kitty tribe (including lithe and sleekity sister, Tiger Lilly), his Kitty Mom (my granddaughter), his Grandma (my daughter) and, occasionally me.

    Dandelion and Kitty Mom 1Once (or may be more) in a lifetime, you may get lucky and get a Kitty of a Lifetime. This is my granddaughter’s second, her first one being the ailing but blessedly persistent Max (imagine Dandelion, all grown up). Max has as much had the raising of my granddaughter as any of us – but I digress.

    Despite all my daughter and granddaughter’s cats being wonderful, Dandelion is just a Kitty of a Lifetime. Sit down on the toilet and you have an armful of purring fluff, cradled in your arms like a baby, his soft little paws wrapped around your hand as you rub his tummy. Lie down and you’re apt to have Dandelion draped over your head like earphones, his purr a surround sound of tranquility. He’s smart, inquisitive, loving, knows his family and was set for a full lifetime of being loved, sleeping, eating, playing and bringing joy every day.

    How much would you pay to save the life of such a miraculous little being?

    July 2 of this year (2014) – Dandelion and Tiger Lilly were old enough to be neutered and spayed. They arrived that Wednesday and by late morning, the call came – they were done and doing beautifully.

    Dandelion and Tiger Lilly

    Dandelion and Tiger Lilly

    Six pm and they were brought home. Tiger Lilly was bouncing about as if nothing had happened except she now had an annoyance on her tummy that needed investigation and grooming (which meant she would be wearing two pairs of socks made into a kitty tummy shirt – the cone of shame proving worthless with her). Dandelion was sleepier, but he was the mellow boy, so it wasn’t that great a surprise.

    The next morning, my daughter doled out the pain meds and immediately, she noticed that Dandelion was still groggy and his breathing was heavy – plus his tongue was curled into a tube, his mouth open.

    In the middle of the night
    Miss Clavel turned on her light
    and said, “Something is not right!”

    Ludgwig Bemelman, Madeline, 1939

    Daughter immediately called the vet who said they would squeeze him in. By then, Dandelion was heaving, but nothing came up.

    When he got to the veterinary hospital, his lungs still sounded fine, but by that afternoon, they called and said his lungs sounded crackly and he needed to go to Summit Veterinarian referral center, which is a crisis veterinary hospital where the most dire cases are brought. If anybody would be able to help Dandelion, these folks would be the ones who could. The original veterinary clinic rigged an oxygen chamber for him while they waited for daughter and granddaughter to arrive, but they had to leave that behind for the terrifying ride to Summit. He was working desperately to breathe, his little sides contracting almost violently and his mouth was open. Liquid leaked out of his nose and mouth – when they arrived, the staff was waiting for him since the clinic had called ahead; he was rushed to the back to get him into an oxygen tent.

    20140708 One very sick little kitty

    July 8, 2014 — One very sick little kitty

    It was terrifying and overwhelming. Despair laid heavily on all of us.

    The next day, the vet called and said he was fighting hard, but it didn’t look good. It was either let him go or put him on a ventilator. My daughter had to see him – he would tell her himself if he wanted to stay or if he was ready to go.

    I was there for that visit. First my daughter and then my granddaughter unzipped the oxygen chamber and Dandelion opened his eyes wide, somehow pushing out a tiny mew even though you could see his little sides slamming in and out as he struggled. He leaned into first my daughter’s and then my granddaughter’s hands and my daughter knew – he wanted to stay. He wanted to fight.

    And so it was on. It would be a fiercely expensive ventilator which meant 24 hour care by a vet tech who wouldn’t leave his side for more than a moment. Even with this, his chances were put at 5% — or less.

    20140709 Dandelion off the ventilatorSo – I ask again, how much would you pay to save a Kitty of a Lifetime? A little being who loved and trusted you? Who wanted to live as desperately as you wanted him to? How much?

    My daughter took money out of savings – she applied for “Care Credit,” which can cover animals or humans, but the bill grew. And grew. And grew.

    Right now, it’s $13,000.

    Here’s the thing– it looks like Dandelion is going to live. They had to fight hard, and it was touch and go for so long. The vet would call and say she wouldn’t be surprised if he died at any minute and certainly was likely to overnight.

    Still, he persisted. Still, he fought. (Okay, this makes me cry.) Decisions about keeping on were made in 12 hour increments.

    More slow progress. They visited him; he was covered in tubes and wires. Except for the movements of his sides, he seemed to be gone, right up until he heard their voices and he seemed to be struggling to wake up for them. They left him to rest, more determined than ever not to give up on him.

    Dandelion wakes up

    Dandelion wakes up

    And then – Wednesday, the ninth, in the weemost hours of the morning, they were able to get him off the ventilator. That evening, they visited him. He was still groggy – drugged – obsessively grooming himself, but when he saw his family, he got excited and they had to leave again because that challenged his breathing again.

    And then – today – Thursday, the tenth of July. This was Dandelion tonight. His eyes are bright. He’s awake. He’s coughing up the goop that filled his lungs, although there may need to be later surgery to get rid of it if there’s too much.

    It looks for all the world like Dandelion, Kitty of a Lifetime, angel of our hearts, is going to live.

    And it was worth it.

    My daughter, who would never do this lightly or even for her self, has set up a GoFundMe.com account in hopes of defraying this cost. She’s a single, widowed mother and this has set her back years. To help (if you can) or share (whether you can help or not), go to this link:


    And thank you.

    P.S. The original vet clinic was super nice and supportive. They did their very best to rescue him in the first crucial moments when, had they not done so, we would have lost him. They called to check on his progress twice a day. I suspect the first time they see him again, there won’t be a dry eye in the place…

    Dandelion awake at last

    20140710 Dandelion and the girl

    • I’m glad Dandelion made it! It’s hard to imagine that veterinarian bills can be that astronomical, but we all know that everybody pays bills from the work they do. Vets (and attorneys, let me tell you) are not cheap! Even so, I am enclosing $25 to help. If ALL the people who love you did the same, it would add up to be enough. I think that maybe people are embarrassed that they cannot help in a more substantial way, so they end up doing nothing, which is sad. My love to everybody, Maya. Your writing and concern touch me everyday.

        • Maya North

        • July 11, 2014 at 5:04 pm
        • Reply

        I am so deeply grateful, Kathie. Even sharing helps — more people see it that way. Dandelion may even be coming home this weekend. I can’t wait to cry all over his fur…

        • Just shared, Maya. My Moses is all I have now in “immediate” family. Dylan, my late son, called him brother. You are one of the most amazing people I know. I learn from you with every “installment” you write. Give Dandelion love from me. Your daughter and granddaughter are very lucky and so am I to call you “friend.”

    • As you know your daughter and I had many conversations on FB. She is a responsible person and explained her reasoning to me. As you know I am not in favor of debt and I know this will be a struggle for her and her family but their lifestyle as she explained was prepared for this and they will not lose their house or put their family in jeopardy and for this I was thankful. I am glad the kitty is recovering. This would not have been my decision but I understand why she had to do it. Hoepfully, the vet hospital will cut her a deal too and reduce some of the costs just like most people are willing to do.

        • Maya North

        • July 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm
        • Reply

        Nope, they won’t be homeless. My granddaughter is growing up in a house full of happy, furry bodies and more love than I ever dreamed of as a child. If I could’ve ordered up a mom it would have been someone just like my daughter. <3

      • Kelvin

      • July 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm
      • Reply

      That’s some real love and dedication there. Glad Dandelion appears to have turned the corner. Personally, I couldn’t do it. I spent more on my two Beagles than I have on all my other pets combined (between dogs, cats, rats and mice about a dozen animals.) I’m always in fear of getting the “wrong number” for my dog when they’re sick. I’m glad this worked out for your family.

        • Maya North

        • July 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm
        • Reply

        My daughter is one of the strongest people I have ever known. I also think if Dandelion hadn’t been a baby, she would’ve let him go, but with a kitty of a lifetime who is also just a kitten — and it was also a case of “just a little more time will buy him life,” and that added to the bill every time. It paid off. He may be coming home this weekend. <3

      • Hannah Sullivan

      • July 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm
      • Reply

      I almost cried. I would do anything for my dog. I am so glad he is okay now. Give Dandelion a hug for me!

        • Maya North

        • July 11, 2014 at 10:06 pm
        • Reply

        Oh, Hannah, honey, I so will! My daughter and granddaughter visited him today and said he was bouncing all over the waiting room. He’s totally touched the hearts of all the staff — I think they lose so many furbabies and to see a little one come back from what seemed like certain death is just uplifting — I suspect it’s the reason they do what they do and gives them strength to continue! <3

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