Just like you, we had an hours drive to the after hours vet clinic, we didn't have to wait though, the vet was expecting us. Shadow had been bleeding out from her rectum long enough to create a puddle of blood about a foot in diameter before we realized there was even a problem.
When we got to the vet about midnight on that Saturday night, it took about 10-15 minutes waiting before the vet told us that she had lost a lot of blood and her body temperature was so low that she should already be dead. He'd never seen a dog with such a low body temperature and he wanted us to know that she probably wasn't going to make it before he went any further. As close to death as she was, she still had that spark of life in her eyes that I wasn't prepared to extinguish so we told the vet to do what he could.
After x-rays and ultrasounds to eliminate the possibility of a blockage, the vet showed us where Shadow had been shot and explained how the 3 pellets showing up on x-ray might be lead pellets. They weren't relevant to Shadow's illness but he pointed out that they may cause other issues later in life. He also pointed out that they might be steel and the risk would be minimal. It didn't really matter since surgically removing the pellet near her spine wasnt feasible.
On Monday morning we had to find a vet to take over the duty of keeping Shadow alive because the After Hours Clinic was ONLY After Hours service, Shadow had to be out of the emergency clinic by 9am. The clinic helped us find a more local vet that could take over the immediate problem of pulling her back from the edge of death. We had to wrap Shadow in blankets with hot packs to keep her warm, and heat the intravenous tube before the fluids entered her body, load her in the car and drive her to vet clinic #2 of 3.
Vet #2 was not a 24 hour clinic but they must have seen something in Shadow worth saving because they found a volunteer to spend Monday night with her so that MJ and I could figure out what to do next, if anything. At this point Shadow was off her anti-siezure meds because her liver was at risk so she needed to be on constant seizure watch.
We had decided to wait until we saw Shadow on Tuesday before making that really tough life or death decision, and am I ever glad we did. When we left Shadow on Monday morning she was still a dying dog, while the first vet saved her life to this point, she wasn't out of the woods yet, not by a long shot. When we called the vet later in the day, not much had changed, which was a good thing considering the change that might have happened. It was during that phone call that the vet offered to keep Shadow overnight and we'd see what the morning brings.
We called the vet Tuesday morning and the receptionist sounded very positive about Shadow's condition so we jumped in the car and 15 minutes later we saw Shadow get up and greet us with her spinning tail and eyes full of life. She was weak and unsteady on her feet, but I wasn't looking at a dying dog anymore, she was full of life and the next decision was easy to make.
She needed some more full time care, so we made arrangements to admit her to the nearby Veterinary College. She spent about 5 days with the 3rd group of vets/students while under 24 hour seizure watch until we could start her on new medication that didn't affect her liver.
I think the total for all 3 vets was $4879 or something in that range. It was definitely a big gamble right from the beginning. We're not wealthy and the credit card took a major hit, but I can honestly say that I have gotten a better return on that $5000 gamble than all my other cash bets combined. I wouldn't have spent that kind of money to save any of my previous dogs, and I won't spend that kind of money on any pets in the future. What can I say, Shadow is special, in more ways than I can describe, so she got that once in a lifetime special treatment.