It was a close call, but Lola, the beagle-harrier cross will live, thanks to the talented and caring team at the Shuswap Veterinary Clinic.
Young Lola is best friend and family to Frank Chouinard, who has called Salmon Arm home for only a couple of months.
While Chouinard says he kept an eye on Lola, the smaller breed dog was in heat and caught the attention of his visiting friend’s very tall Saint Bernard-Great Pyrenees.
Chouinard wasn’t too worried about a possible match made in hell because there is such a height difference between the two dogs and was surprised when he saw them in action.
Surprise turned to grief when he realized Monday that, after a long labour, Lola was not going to be able to birth her five large pups.
A tearful call to local radio morning man Patrick Ryley spurred the community into raising money to help cover the cost of an emergency C-section.
Despite the efforts of vet clinic staff, none of the puppies survived. But Lola’s life was saved by the medical intervention.
“If your pet is whelping and there’s no progress after two hours, it’s a good idea to call your vet,” says Dr. Jamie Foulger, who performed the operation on Lola.
Choking up, Chouinard said by noon on Monday, he had been told there was already close to $700 in a fund at the vet clinic, with another $200 at the radio station, with another $200 or so on its way.
It was a response that has touched the former Montrealer to the core.
“It’s an enormous weight off my back and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the whole community,” says the unemployed truck driver of avoiding having to have Lola euthanized. “I want people to see how these people managed my crisis; they said bring her and we will sort out something.”
Chouinard said it would have been a terrible loss to lose his beloved pet.
“I couldn’t just stand there and cry and I would have had a hard time forgiving myself if she had died,” he says, of his call to the radio station. “She’s a rescue, but I feel more often than not she rescued me.”
Chouinard acquired Lola from his stepson in Montreal and travelled across the country, often sleeping in his Jeep.
Single now, Chouinard spent two years in Kelowna when he was growing up and had visions of coming back beautiful B.C.
As donations have poured in, Chouinard has spoken to Shuswap Vet’s office manager Jim McEwan, asking him to put any money that goes beyond his $1,400 bill be put into a fund to save some other pet owner the awful decision of having to put their pet down because they can’t afford treatment.
“There are people even less fortunate than me on the streets,” he says of the immeasurable bond that can develop between human and pet. “It’s like love, you can’t explain it.”
Chouinard is trying to find work as a mechanic, welder or truck driver, handing out resumes wherever he can.
“I hope to get a job soon to give the favour back,” he says.
McEwan, meanwhile has high praise for doctors and support staff at the practice. As part of the surgery, Lola has now been spayed.
“I find they are so passionate about what they do and so good at what they do,” he says. “When they see a dog in distress, they know what to do and they just drop what they’re doing and get down to business.”