As many of you know, Robert Tinney's health has worsened dramatically in the past six months, leaving him with a feeding tube in his stomach and with almost no ability to eat on his own. He has been hospitalized seven times since May and was just released from St. Francis Hospital again today, Monday December 12th. Weighing less than 100 lbs and in constant pain that even large doses of narcotics pushed through his stomach tube cannot touch, it is difficult for me to comprehend what is keeping him going most days.
When he's at home, the answer is...his dogs. Poppy and Hermie. When he's home, they never leave his side. Poppy's the older one. She's nine, sweet, quiet and watchful with her wet eyes. And, although she doesn't like the sounds Robert's feeding tube makes, her favorite spot to be is curled up as close as she can possibly get next to him in the chair where he sits and sleeps (Lying down is no longer possible because of a severe and painful curve in Robert's spine.)
But Robert has been in the hospital a lot in the past 8 months. And Poppy does not like it when he's gone one bit. You've never seen anything like this little gargoyle of a dog pacing around Robert's apartment looking for him, wrinkling her already wrinkled forehead, worrying the same piece of floor over and over, checking behind his chair as if Robert might be hiding there.
When Robert was in St. Francis in November - for a persistent staph infection in his feeding tube - something strange happened, Poppy would barely eat. And then when Robert came home, it got even stranger, Poppy stopped eating altogether. Robert was a wreck with worry.
Devoted doesn't begin to describe his relationship to these dogs. When all of the bones in his body - hollowed from decades of steroid treatment for his Crohn's - are hurting, he'll still drag himself across a room just to let one of the dogs in or out or out again even if they've just gone out...or in. Poppy and Hermie truly are his children.
So his Uncle Doug drove Robert and Poppy to the vet out in Bolton. And after days of tests they finally found three hard rubber balls in Poppy's digestive tract. One had perforated her stomach. Another was lodged tightly in her intestines.
(Robert was flabbergasted. Poppy has never been a chewer or eater of strange things. She's a picky girl who will find a pea and spit it out of her wet food.)
But with surgery and the excellent care at Bolton Veterinary Hospital, Poppy was saved. She had lost a tremendous amount of weight and was weak but Robert was so thankful. And then...he collapsed.
He had been walking around with bronchitis for days, dehydrated, having a hard time breathing, not wanting to tell anyone until he knew Poppy was going to be all right. The day after Poppy got home, he ended up in the ER. They kept him in St. Francis for five days...until today.
And while Robert was hospitalized again, poor Poppy wasn't recovering either. She lost her appetite once more and seemed like she was hurting. Robert's family rushed her to the vet Sunday night. One of her internal stitches had ruptured. The contents of the poor pup's stomach were emptying into her abdominal cavity. Bolton Veterinary Hospital performed emergency surgery on Poppy last night. She came through like a champ. She should heal fine. But this time the vet wants to keep her longer to make sure her recovery goes well.
Robert's Uncle Doug paid Poppy's enormous $4,000 veterinarian bill for her first stay and operation. Robert needs help with the second bill which is estimated to be the same.
We're not sure how much more time Robert has with Poppy. Or with any of us. We're not sure how much more of this his body can take. But we know that animals help us heal in indescribable, inexplicable ways. And I know Poppy helps Robert. I've seen it.
Can you please help Robert's family and me bring Poppy home to Robert this week? I know it's the holidays and things can be tight...so thank you for any tiny bit you can help Robert and Poppy.
*We will post a copy of the Bolton Veterinary bill on here for transparency with new updates on Poppy.