Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chelsea goes to the vet! January 25, 2010

Chelsea is a lovely Hamadryas baboon. She is sweet and gentle, often asking Sherri to hold her hand and allow her to groom Sherri's arm or boot or whatever is close by. Chelsea loves her rubber boots and she has a dolly that is always with her - it amazed us all to see it was really bright green, not black, when Sherri had the chance to get it away from her and scrub it!!!
Chelsea has a very loud voice, and if ever you touch her boot, or she thinks that you might, she screams - and it it ear-piercing. Chelsea has very strong jaws and although her canine teeth have been removed, she could do some damage if she got some part of you in her mouth.
And finally, you all know that Chelsea is a big girl - a really big girl. Some of that must be the result of eating for 2 - no, not because she is pregnant. She shares her enclosure with old Nan who is pretty much blind. Although Chelsea is invited down on the floor for her dinner and Nan is fed on the platform, Chelsea always manages to eat all the goodies out of her dish and then go and help herself to the goodies Nan hasn't managed to locate yet.
Well, it was decided that Chelsea should go see the vet - perhaps her overweight condition had other sources, perhaps she has a thyroid condition. And the only way to know that would be through blood tests. And the only way for that to happen would be a trip to the vet. I volunteered to help. In the back of my mind were all sorts of possibilities - driving for 40 minutes either way with Chelsea screaming in my ear; getting my fingers chomped as I tried to help lift and move Chelsea's kennel in and out of the car, being pushed aside by an escaping baboon at any point during the transfers...
I was not at the farm when Chelsea was convinced to go into the kennel - but there she was, locked inside the kennel, with the bottom tray and blankets all unarranged when I arrived. She didn't look too happy and had a few grumpy words to say (but no screams). Nan had some grumpy words to say as well - she was not pleased that Chelsea would be removed from their enclosure. And George and Susie next door were absolutely freaked out! But Sherri and I removed Chelsea in her kennel and got her into the back of my little hatchback. She WAS heavy and it needed the two of us to lift her. But she sat pretty still, said nothing and spent most of the time looking around and pulling all the blankets into the kennel with her. It was really an uneventful 40 minute drive to the vet's office.
This was the first time the vet or his staff had met Chelsea and there was quite a period of introductions. Chelsea (in her kennel) was plopped on the scales and the result was a whopping 93 pounds. The vet reckoned she should be 45 to 50 pounds, so there is a weight loss plan in Chelsea's future!
The next step was to knock her out so the vet could do an exam and take blood. At first Sherri tried just putting the facepiece (by which the anaesthetic and oxygen flow) over Chelsea's nose and mouth - but Chelsea wasn't having any of that. She wasn't upset or angry, not trying to break out or anything, just turning her head so that she did not have to breathe in the anaesthetic. So the vet (Dr. Holmes of the Anderson Clinic) went into action. A "relaxant" was prepared in a syringe and the syringe was fastened to a long pole so the injection could be given from a distance. He was remarkably quick. Chelsea did not enjoy the shot - she bared her teeth and barked, but really nothing more serious than that.
Then we waited...and waited...and waited some more. Chelsea got comfy, sat up again, did some serious grooming on Sherri's arm...and we waited for her to be relaxed enough that the facepiece could easily and safely be placed over her Chelsea with her kennel door wide open. And that eventually happened...and Chelsea went to sleep.
Everyone coordinated to slide Chelsea out of the kennel onto the table - Sherri kept the anaesthetic over her face the entire time. Dr. Holmes went to work, palpating her body looking for lumps or bumps. He checked the mobility of her joints, hips, knees, ankles; looked at her eyes; flipped her over and did some more. Chelsea's breathing became laboured - but the vet reassured us that it was simply due to the way she was lying and the weight of her body.
Finally he took blood to be sent off for testing for various things, including thyroid.
Then it was time to wake Chelsea up. She was gently slid back into her kennel on her blankets. The anaesthetic was turned off, the oxygen left on...and we waited...and waited...and waited. Chelsea was totally relaxed and it seemed as though she was just going to go on sleeping peacefully. It took a very long time - longer than anyone had really expected. Finally an eye moved, opened slightly. Chelsea swallowed and licked her lips - she was given some water in a syringe to wet her mouth. She was wrapped in blankets since it is natural for primates (us included) to feel cold when coming out of anaesthetic. But she just did not want to become any more active, would not sit up.
Next door there was a kitten being prepared for surgery - to be fixed! The kitten had been put under and was spreadeagled on the table being shaved. Someone got the vaccuum cleaner to clean up the fur, and that noise roused Chelsea. She sat up immediately - a little shaky perhaps at first and seemed ready whatever was next.
"Next" turned out to be tea. Dr. Holmes had got himself a cup of tea while waiting for Chelsea to be mobile again, and when he offered it to her, she was interested. So some was put into a different glass (he wasn't quite willing to share his mug with her!) and he fed it to her slowly. She seemed to enjoy it - perhaps we will give her some cold tea from time to time...
In the car on the way back to the farm, Chelsea was alert and calm. Every time we slowed or stopped, she would "hmmmmph" at us as though she was questioning why we had changed our speed. Maybe she was just in a hurry to get home.
Sherri and I got her back into her enclosure - Nan came down to see her. During all this, Chelsea had had a boot or two with her, but she didn't seem to care. And although she looked everywhere, Sherri was unable to find Chlesea's doll in the morning, so Chelsea had gone to the vet and undergone all this trauma without it!!!!! Now, home safe and sound, she did not want to come out of the kennel. She was given some lovely (diet) lettuce, as was Nan, but Chelsea chose to stay in the kennel to eat it. She was still in the kennel when we closed the barn door.
I hope there will be results from Chelsea's tests soon, and I hope they give us good news. Chelsea is such a sweetheart. I have been honoured over the past couple of visits when she has come down to the mesh and groomed my boots, offered me her dolly, reached her hand out to me.
I look forward to seeing her again on Sunday. And I really enjoyed my experience of taking her to the vet!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy 2010 from SBFPS

We hope you enjoyed the holiday season! May 2010 bring peace, security and comfort to you and your loved ones.

Thank you to all of our tremendous volunteers who worked so hard this past year imparting kindness, good cheer and care to the residents!

We are pleased to share this article with you from the Toronto Star, written by Corey Mintz who cooked for the primates! Thanks Laura for making this happen!

photo: Corey Mintz