The morning that Rebel died, I woke up at 4am, well before sunrise. I walked out into the kitchen where the puppy pen lives and I picked up my little cuddle buddy and lay on the couch with him nuzzled up under my chin. I could feel the little jerks, head tics, just the tiniest of motions, sort of like hiccups, but they weren't hiccups. He shivered a bit and I tucked him into a little fleece blanket and held him close until it was time to wake up everyone in the house, and get ready for work and school. Ever since his brother died a week earlier from distemper, I had been looking for the signs that he or his sister were beginning to succumb to it as well, so when I felt those little tics which were a sign the virus was affecting him neurologically, I knew it was the start of the end for him. I cried as I packed up his little crate. I would take him into the vet for humane euthanasia right after I dropped the boys off at school. But when I closed the crate door, he yowled at me in protest. I let him out for a quick second and he ran for the water bowl, ate some breakfast, and grumbled at me in what I can only describe as a tiny puppy reenactment of the famous scene from Monty Python and The Holy Grail: "I'm not quite dead yet." I cancelled the trip to the vet. By lunchtime, he was comatose and I ended up taking him in anyway. I sobbed the rest of the afternoon. I knew it was going to happen, it wasn't a surprise, but still, leaving the vet's office empty-handed was a punch in the chest.
Last week, I had taken pictures of the remaining two puppies: Rebel and BlueJean and posted them all over my facebook page and our group's volunteer page. It felt like pushing my luck because I didn't know if they were in the clear yet. They were still under quarantine after their brother's diagnosis, the incubation period still ticking away, but still. They were so beautiful with their unnaturally blue eyes,not just puppy blue, electric blue, the kind of blue that would stay. I was pushing my luck.
For the rest of the week after Rebel died, I would pick up Bluejean and whisper in her ear, "Please don't get sick, Please don't get sick. Please." It was probably stupid of me to be so hopeful. The vet told me it was pretty much a given, since they were exposed at such a young age, that they'd all get sick and die. But I once fostered a puppy who survived both parvo and distemper--today she's a happy thriving 3 year old beautiful dog. It can happen, I've personally seen it. She's made it this far. She only has to make it to Monday to beat the quarantine, Please don't get sick.
Today, she got sick.
At first, I thought maybe she would just get a mild case. She's been stronger and feistier than her brothers. Dogs that survive this might have some lifelong effects, like a head tic or bad teeth, but they can survive, if it's a mild case, if her body can fight it. She's not going to survive. She's been steadily getting worse through the afternoon. It's not staying "mild," it's getting worse. There's no fight. There's a big ugly monster in the room hovering over her, stealing her away, hour by hour through little tics and jerks and as much as I love her and I want her to beat this, I won't watch her go down like that, it's not right. It's not humane. Right now, I'm holding my girl and I'm steadily telling that monster in the room to fuck right off. Just give me a goddam MINUTE, OK. If she survives the night, I'll take her in the morning and just like I did with her brother, I'll kiss her little head and tell her how much she was loved, and how sorry I am that the world couldn't find its way to being kinder to her and the other puppies. They would have been six weeks old tomorrow.
Please, if you or someone you know isn't vaccinating their pets, do it now.