Whalen: Not all soul mates are human

Whalen writes about how hard it is to see one's pet in pain.

Colleen Whalen.jpg

When one’s best friend hurts, it’s heartbreaking. Recently, my beloved Baxter was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that affects a dog’s claws. Four veterinarians have told me that it is very manageable. They need to suppress his immune system with steroids and manage the damaged nails until healthy nails grow in.

Baxter and I are soul mates, so we understand each other. About noon on Monday, Baxter came to me and told me he needed help. He even let me know which paw hurt. One of his claws had twisted about 160 degrees. He was in a lot of pain. His regular clinic couldn’t squeeze him in, so we went to the emergency clinic.

Contributed / Colleen Whalen

They trimmed that claw, bandaged it, and sent him home with pain medication. People saw my limping dog and asked what was wrong with him. When I told them, a few told that I was being cruel, he would be in pain forever and would never be able to walk again. When I told them that several veterinarians said it’s manageable, I was told that veterinarians, like all other people in any type of medicine, don’t know anything. It hurt because I want to always do right by Honey B.

We followed up with his regular clinic on Tuesday morning. She said he had several more claws that needed to be removed because they would twist, too. I left him there, they sedated him, removed claws, and sent him home with pain meds. He walked out of the clinic. I did lift him out of the car because I thought it would be really painful for him to jump out. I’m glad he only weighs about 45 pounds.

Baxter and I are a fairy tale. About seven years ago I was mugged. The thief got my cell phone, along with other items. The police wanted me to keep the line open for a while so they could try to track it. I got a new phone and a new number.


I went to the Humane Society to get a name tag for my cat with my new phone number. I honestly was just going to look at the dogs, not take one home. Except for one dog, they all came to the front of the kennels and barked at me. Baxter licked my hand. I was walking out of the dog area and told myself that I had to meet that little guy.

They bought him out, and I sat on the floor next to him. He put his head on my leg. He gave me a look that said he was my dog. He was surrendered on a Friday evening, neutered on Saturday, and put out for adoption on Sunday. We met Sunday afternoon.

I told his doctor on Tuesday that I was really struggling wondering if I was doing the right thing. She said they see about two cases of his disorder a year. Coincidentally, her previous patient had the same disorder. She told me that we had probably seen him in the lobby. He was walking pain free and just needed to come in to get his nails trimmed until all the damage had grown out. That dog was a chapter in our fairy tale. He let me know that Honey B would OK.

Whalen is an insurance professional who lives in Fargo with her beloved dog Baxter.

What To Read Next
Get Local