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Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

More Dog Stories

Okay, I’m an animal lover, so shoot me. Actually I’m very much an animal lover. I have six dogs, or at least I did till yesterday.

See, around the time Wrinkles died our sole unspayed dog, a long-haired mini mutt mix (she weighs in at a “hefty” 6 pounds) go pregnant by another small dog in the neighborhood. At first I refused to have anything to do with the puppies because I was hurting from losing Wrinkles and all the pups were going to have to go to new homes anyway. While Wrinkles passing had taken us from six to five dogs I had already made up my mind I wouldn’t replace her. I wasn’t about to get close to any new dogs.

There was this one dog in the litter though that was so ugly she was cute and my youngest daughter, the then seventeen-year-old one, was absolutely in love with it. This made me doubly cautious. Through all our years of raising cats and dogs there seemed to be an unwritten rule that if Becca fell in love with an animal it would die before it was six weeks old. I can’t even keep count of how many times it happened. It crushed her every time, but still, when a new litter of kittens or puppies showed up Becca would inevitably fall in love with one and we would inevitably lose it.

Of course all this was back before I became a much more responsible pet owner and decided there were too many dogs in shelters to allow ours to reproduce. the only reason we happened to have this particular unspayed dog was the fact both we, and our vet, thought she was spayed.

We had known her previous owners and not once in the two years they had her had she gone into heat. After hearing this and examining her the vet agreed she was fixed so we weren’t concerned at all. Apparently when very small dogs go into heat you may not know it. At least we didn’t, till it became quite obvious, and was confirmed by our vet, that yes, she was expecting, a litter of three to be exact, though only two survived birth.

This was only seven weeks after Wrinkles died so I wasn’t ready to commit to a new pet, but my daughter was adamant, she loved the dog and desperately wanted it. Would I please let her have it?

I debated with myself for weeks, in part to see if the animal survived those first precarious months. It did, and in the end I gave in. “Moe” joined our family.

She scared the dickens out of me this past summer. While my daughter was out-of-town and despite vaccinations she got parvo. We’d lost dogs to parvo in the past so I knew how very unlikely it was she would make it. Usually I keep a bag of IV fluids from the vet on hand for emergencies. It’s a long story as to why my vet and I have this relationship, but we do. It basically comes down to nursing a dog through kidney failure years ago. Since then I had always had IV fluids on hand for emergencies that called for them to stabilize our animals till we could get them into town and into the vet. Sometimes they held us over through rough nights until the vet opened in the morning. Either way, IV fluids were something the vet normally let me keep a standing supply of. Only thing was, when Moe got hit with parvo I didn’t have any. I had used it duringĀ  the last days of Wrinkles life and hadn’t replaced it.

Don’t get me wrong, my vet is a good man, but like all doctors, human or animal, he wants to get paid the day he renders his services. I was beyond flat broke at the time so Moe and I were going to have to get through the crisis with ingenuity and prayer. Prayer was the biggest element. I called to find out what the usual treatment was. The loss of blood and resulting shock are the two biggest risks. The hemolysis is treated with fluids and steroids. I had the liquid steroids. I didn’t have the IV fluids but the dog only weighs 8 pounds soaking wet. I started giving her a half-teaspoon of water by mouth (with an oral syringe for my grandson’s baby Tylenol) every fifteen minutes. I was guesstimating how much blood she was losing and how much fluid she needed to keep from going into shock. The steroids were to help slow the bleeding and give the dog a slim chance of survival.

It was touch and go. There were times when it would take me the entire fifteen minutes to get the fluid into her and I’d have to start with the next dose. Her gums lost their color. Her jaw began to clench. I was sure we were going to lose her. I tried to prepare my daughter, who was 75 miles away at her aunt’s for the fact we might lose her. I told her she was really sick. I told her she was bleeding. I didn’t tell her it was parvo. First of all, I couldn’t be 100% sure that’s what it was, although it walked talked and acted like it. I didn’t want her to remember the visions of other dogs we’d lost to parvo; bleeding out slowly and suffering their way into the grave. No, that was not an image I wanted for her. I carried it like a sackful of potatoes on my back, but that burden wasn’t going to be hers.

Twice I thought I was going to lose her within the hour, both times she made it through. By the third day there was no longer any bleeding; by the fifth day the steroids had been discontinued. She pulled through. I was so happy and so proud of her. It’s really only been in the past month that she’s regained the last of her strength.

Yesterday my daughter took her out into the yard to show off to her friend how Moe will now follow her without a leash. I told her to please use the leash anyway. She wanted to brag though and I understood how it is with all “mommies.”

They hadn’t been outside for five minutes when our female beagle mix got out of the house. Moe took off after her. We caught the beagle mix in a few minutes. Moe hasn’t been seen since.

We’ve walked the mountain we live on several times. We’ve gone door-to-door to each of our twenty or so neighbors. A few saw her on the mountainside around 3:00 yesterday, but she wouldn’t let them come near her. She’s only ever been around us and she’s never been out of our acreage. It’s a fair distance to the nearest roads, not an impossible distance, but a really unlikely one. Hopefully we find her soon. If not, September will be marked by mourning for a dog again. Not much in the grand scheme of things, I know, but still a loss for us. If we don’t find her may she be alive, well and happy in some new home where we simply didn’t know to look for her.

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On Dogs

A year ago on the 18th my nine-year-old pit bull, Wrinkles, passed away due to brain cancer. It moved quickly, two months before she had developed seizures. We took her to the vet who examined her, did blood work, took other samples and other than finding a benign tumor in the roof of her mouth pronounced her fit. It was one of the hottest Julys on record and he thought perhaps, despite the availability of water she had become dehydrated and this had led to the seizures. Greatly relieved we brought her home. Three weeks later the seizures began again and she was started on phenobarbitol.

Within a few weeks of this she started hanging her head when she walked and she developed a fear of going outside; thinking the phenobarbitol was to blame I weaned her off it but the symptoms got no better. After ten days she was back on the phenobarbitol as the seizures returned.

She rapidly went downhill from this point. She started walking into furniture and walls. She would get herself stuck in corners. I called our vet but they were on vacation for a week. I didn’t want anyone but our vet to see her so I waited out the week while Wrinkles grew steadily worse.

Finally, the week our vet returned I got an emergency visit. I took in Wrinkles only to discover that between her July visit and that one on September 18th she had gone totally blind. She was also nearly deaf. More tests were done and a large brain tumor was discovered that hadn’t been there just a few months previously. Wrinkles was dying, quickly, but painfully. After conferring with the vet it was decided that putting her to sleep was the best option. She went quickly and easily, as though she welcomed her release at last.

She had been my youngest son’s dog as well as mine. I had said my goodbyes at the vet’s office, but he would need the chance to say his goodbyes when he came home from work.

My brother came down and dug out half of the grave, between a peach tree and a tulip poplar. My brother had lost dogs himself and said that while having help was good, digging out the rest of the grave himself would be therapeutic for my son. It would give him a chance to work out his anger and cry while blaming it on sweat. When my son got home we left him alone to finish the grave and place Wrinkles in it. Then we all kept a moment of silence and my son filled in the grave and settled the rocks on it that serve as much to keep wildlife out, here in the mountains, as to serve as grave markers.

I sat in the house with my older children, and 17-year-old daughter and we did our crying. My son sat on the hillside above the grave till well after dark saying his goodbyes.

It is now nearly a year later and I can tell you while there are finally days I don’t think about her, there are never days when she isn’t missed. Goodbye Wrinkles. I love and miss you still.

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