“Maggie’s Miracle” – Shane Cool’s side-kick survives chemical poisoning with help from vets across the state

It’s a typical day in Arnold. Five-year-old English Springer Spaniel Maggie patiently waits in the pickup for her daily treat of a piece of sausage as her best buddy, Shane Cool, comes out of The Exchange. Maggie travels everywhere with Shane – in the pickup to the farm, in the truck and tractors. She’s his sidekick, tagging along to his appointments and on errands. She knows which establishments are “pet friendly” and when she is required to wait in the pickup. Come hunting season, the pair can be found hunting pheasants and geese.

“It seems our town is full of dog lovers and they enjoy spoiling Maggie. I think that anyone who knows Shane also knows Maggie because they are always together,” said Shane’s wife, Lana.

The Cool family brought the rambunctious three month-old puppy home in 2015. She did all the normal puppy stuff, chewing up shoes, destroying her bed and toys, jumping and playing rough. The puppy stage didn’t last long, though, as Maggie was eager to learn and please.

Shane was immediately smitten with Maggie and the feeling was mutual. The two became inseparable.

And then on the morning of May 1, Maggie made one wrong step and the Cool family began a long journey to save her life.

As is her habit, Maggie was roaming around close by as Shane and the guys at the farm were busy preparing and loading the planters for a day of planting corn. Shane believes that Maggie stepped in a bit of insecticide with her left paw and licked it. Her behavior seemed strange right away. She began excessively licking and salivating. A few hours later, she began twitching. It progressed into muscle spasms and then violent seizures.

The Cools’ first call was to Dr. Merle Bierman in Arnold and then expanded to several veterinary doctors across the state as the severity of the seizures progressed. Maggie spent the first night at Grassland Veterinary Hospital in Broken Bow. Calls from the vet came at 2:00 a.m. and again at 5:00 a.m. They were unable to control Maggie’s seizures and her body temperature had reached a dangerous 107 degrees. The only hope for Maggie’s survival was to get her to the Nebraska Animal Medical Center in Lincoln, where they specialize in 24-hour advanced critical care. The doctors in Broken Bow made arrangements with a vet clinic in Grand Island to meet the Cools enroute to Lincoln to administer a high dose of life-saving medicine to keep Maggie alive for the second half of the trip. Shane held Maggie in the back seat as she violently seized. It was an excruciatingly long and emotional three-hour drive.

A team of doctors met the Cools in the hospital parking lot when they arrived in Lincoln and swiftly began care. Maggie’s seizures continued for a total of 30 hours. The goal was to attempt to control the seizing and limit the damage to her brain and organs while the toxins from the insecticide worked through the body. Finally, the doctors put Maggie under anesthesia as a final resort to control the seizing. It worked. And as the toxins left her body, she began to regain consciousness and start the process of recovery. The entire time, the hospital staff was rooting for Maggie.

COVID-19 restricted visits and the Cools were only allowed to see Maggie briefly a few times. They spent a lot of time sitting in their car in the parking lot of the hospital. Three different times throughout the ordeal, doctors suggested euthanizing Maggie.

“It was incredibly difficult,” said Lana. “The most comforting advice came from friends who had dealt with traumatic health emergencies with their own pets. Friends validated Shane’s emotions that Maggie is worth fighting for. She is a young, healthy dog, and although the seizures were horrible to watch, the doctors determined that she was not experiencing a lot of pain. We decided that we owed it to her to do everything possible to help her and we weren’t ready to lose her. The care from each veterinary doctor across the state, from Arnold to Lincoln, was extraordinary. It was equal parts knowledge and compassion. We were blown away. The Nebraska Animal Medical Center was fascinating as it was similar to a human ICU.”

Maggie spent four nights in the hospital, and the Cool family was not expecting a happy ending. When doctors gave them the news that she could go home, it was a relief. The doctors expect Maggie to gradually regain her strength. The family will be watching for potential long-term damage to her brain and body from the seizures and high fever, but so far, no long-term damage is evident.

“It’s a miracle. She’s almost back to normal,” said Lana.

During the ordeal, the Cools hesitated about posting about Maggie on social media.

“There are so many members of our community suffering right now. We didn’t want to trivialize or minimize human illness or tragedies,” said Lana. “Our daughters and parents were getting calls and texts from family and friends interested in Maggie and Shane. Social media seemed like the most efficient way to deliver information. The outpouring of prayers and concern from our community was so encouraging and uplifting. We are so grateful for the support.

“I think most people can relate to loving a pet like you would a family member. Almost everyone has felt the pain of loving and losing a beloved pet. Animals are innocent. They love unconditionally and we become attached. After this rollercoaster week with our dog, our hearts weigh even heavier as we think about friends and neighbors who are dealing with human illness an tragedy.

Article by: Janet Larreau

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