Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pudding Pup

So, you all know that I foster puppies, right? No? Oh, then let me 'splain: I foster puppies, specifically for a breed rescue which I also sort of helped to found. I used to foster dogs of any age, but since the boy children came into existence, I only foster puppies. (I would love to still foster dogs of any age, but unfortunately, since we're getting them from the shelter or parts unknown, we don't know if they like to EAT boy children, so I stick with puppies because I know they only like to eat computer cords or really expensive shoes). Generally speaking, it's not unusual for me to foster anywhere from 10-20 puppies a year, depending on whether there's a litter (or more than one litter, please for the love of gouda, spay and neuter your pets, people). My point is, I don't always write about the foster puppies here. I'd like to sometimes, but I usually have that thought right after I get in bed after spending several hours cleaning up tiny little puddles of pee located strategically two inches to the left of where the wee-wee pad was placed. But I thought I'd make an exception and tell you about Pudding Pup because WE HAVE HAD QUITE A WEEK.

A little backstory:  Pudding came from San Antonio, from the shelter. I think she may have been officially a "stray" which is code for "I had an idiot owner who did not want to take care of me" because seriously, she didn't get this way on her own:

And, also, I'd like to point out, she looks like a cocker spaniel here, right? RIGHT. So, when people ask me why it is I got this puppy who is clearly in person NOT a cocker spaniel, I refer to this photo and her shelter photo in which she seems spaniel-ish even though she is clearly bald/balding/losing hair/needing the Hair Club For Men. 

 Pudding came to stay with me a little over a week ago. I'm certainly no stranger to puppies that are a little "toe up" so I figured that we'd get her healthy and looking tons better, though, she will tell you: she likes to rock a parka

Pudding made her self at home.

I mean, REALLY. 

Even though, yes: SHE WAS A LITTLE BALD.

We're going through our week, doing well, I'm giving her little medicated baths, we're doing OK. Then she started developing this little cough. And then her belly was REALLY distended, even though she had supposedly received a de-wormer.  I make a weekend appointment at an after hours clinic for her to get a check up. This is where the record goes bzzzzzrrrrrrrrp.

The vet wants to do chest x-rays and a blood panel, which I think is maybe a little egregious, but OK.  Ten minutes later, the vet comes back in and tells me things look very dire: enlarged heart and liver-- "This puppy is very ill. She either has Chagas Disease or Cardiac Disease and I'm very sorry, there's nothing we can do here."  Then they directed me to take her to an emergency clinic and have them put her in an oxygen tank overnight, so she "might survive until morning." And I thought, "Shit." and then I looked at her face and she looked at mine and I burst into tears. SHIIIIIIIITTTTT. 
It was then that I realized that it didn't really matter whether this puppy had only been with me for a week, I held her little life in my hands and I was not OK with her dying. And I didn't know how she was SO sick and I hadn't known it. Was my inattention going to be responsible for this puppy's death? And then I thought about it--what now? HOW could she be so sick? WHAT exactly was wrong here? They never exactly said. They sort of threw out two (very bad) diagnoses and said they weren't sure, but they couldn't help and ya'll come back now, ya hear? 

The more I thought about it, the more angry I got. I'm not going to blast the vet clinic here because I've really never had a bad experience there before, but they basically just dropped a bomb in my lap and gave me a kleenex. Nah. We ain't going down like that. 
So, the next day, I took her in to see another vet for a 2nd opinion. This 2nd vet is someone I've worked with in the past with several of my previous foster pups. I know they're thorough, they'll try lots of different approaches, but they'll also let me know if there's nothing to be done. We spend the morning there, and they're a little confounded. There's some expensive tests we can do, but we could also just see if the simplest, most common possible diagnosis could be what's happening here: distemper. 
Now, most everyone has heard of distemper, it's been around for a long time. It's one of those main things you get your dog vaccinated against every year. It is a merciless, relentless boogeyman that kills dogs and puppies, no matter how cute they are. Shit. 
This was not exactly better than what I heard the night before. 
But this time, they humored me and they sent me home with some antibiotics and a regimen to give her twice daily nebulizing treatments "just in case" it isn't distemper. Wait and see. See if she responds to the meds. See if the coughing gets worse. Look for other signs, and if the signs are pointing to distemper, well...  Then you know. 
So, I took the baby home and this whole week we've been administering the meds, keeping her quiet....just waiting to see if she'd make it or not. I listened to every wracking cough, watching her little chest heave with effort. I wiped off nasty stuff from her nose that caked overnight, stroked her lil mostly bald head, asked for forgiveness for the times I have to lock her in a crate covered with towels while the nebulizer sprays out the tiny droplets that are supposed to help heal her lungs. Steeling myself every morning to peek in on her and see: is she worse? Is she going to be gone, her little body having given out sometime overnight? That's the worst for me. I don't want her to go without me there, without knowing someone loved her.. because I did. 
(I DO). 

How's it going? 
Several days in: She hasn't gotten worse. Her cough is almost completely gone. She's eating, she's drinking. She's gnawing on my fingers. She even misguidedly attempted to play with Hudson.
I'll be honest, I'm not sure what's going to happen: I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that she continues to improve and kick whatever-this-thing-is's ass. I know that things can change on a dime. I know, too, that, unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't matter how many meds you try or  how much foster mama cares. But I feel like we got this, me and her.  I hope like hell we do. 

So yeah, Fostering puppies, man: not for the weak. 

1 comment:

Older not wiser said...

Of all the foster moms out there, I'm glad she found you and that she knows she's loved. Hoping for the best!