as i last posted, we now have a puppy.
what i did not know as of last post was that he was/is a very sick puppy.
friday morning i woke up early to take him on his morning walk. he wouldn’t get up, come out of the crate, nothing. so i tried to bribe him with his breakfast – no interest. just total lethargy and apathy. i decided to watch him for a few minutes just in case i’d just woken him up from some super deep sleep cycle and he was just groggy. but it didn’t go away, and he proceeded to have diarrhea and then lay around more.
i dressed for work and rushed him to the vet. in the car he vomited (but when i brought him home from the pound he came close to doing the same – i think he gets motion sickness, personally) for the first time. they rushed him back and determined that he had a high fever. after some testing, they found three results: ulcers on his gums (leading to an unwillingness to eat because of their tenderness), pneumonia, and the worst: distemper. the vet gave me a 60% chance of survival for him. then she left the room to let me call pete and tell him.
so i called. after a good bit of shock and anger and (on my part) sobbing, we decided to try to save him. yes, we just got him, but we wanted to save him, not get him and put him down. so they put him in the back room and got an iv started (he was dehydrated) and gave him a flea treatment so he would at least be rid of that annoyance. he was there all day, and i was frantic. pete and i met for lunch and i ended up bawling again. he was so frail and sweet when i left him at the hospital, still trying to thump his tail for me though he could barely hold his own head up. it broke me.
so pete picked him up and began nursing him while i worked my second job. when i got home i again got about three tail thumps but he wouldn’t pick his head up from his blanket on the couch, and drifted in and out of sleep. he also started coughing, as the pneumonia antibiotics kicked in and started loosening his lungs. we fed him nutrient-rich food through a syringe, and tried bribing him with milk and water and anything we could think of. advice poured in from friends on facebook and family. we let him rest that first night, and pete slept on the living room floor to be near him – pete tried to come to bed and got so far as under the covers before a wheezing puppy showed up at our doorway, obviously desperate for someone to be near him when he felt so low. back to the living room pete went.
then the next day was spent syringe feeding him, researching, and beginning to try out some advice. over saturday and sunday we: gave him 4 steam shower sessions to loosen his lungs, performed “coupage” or percussion therapy to break up the mucus in his chest, forced his meds down his throat, syringe fed him and therefore took way too many showers to get dog food off of us, fed him ensure (victory!), bribed him with yogurt, fed him nutri-cal puppy diet supplement (huge victory!), dug out a humidifier and set it up for maximum moisture supply, carried him outside to do his business, and encouraged him through pep talks, guitar sessions, massages, and kisses.
slowly, slowly, slowly, he began showing an interest in the world again. and that’s where we are now – a honking cough which the vet has downgraded to kennel cough (and thank goodness, we’re getting him a cough suppressant tonight – he kept me up every hour with his sad coughing), a little lethargy, but a little boy puppy that actually ate real food on his own accord last night – rice with boiled hamburger, eggs, and bacon grease. i cried i was so relieved to see him take an interest in food again. not only that, he briefly but enthusiastically and with tail wagging chased pete around the yard last night. it was awesome.
but here’s my “mother’s intuition”: i don’t think he has distemper. the vet came to it extremely quickly, did not run a conclusive blood test, and gave me the 60% chance but doesn’t seem overly concerned. perhaps it’s just me being hopeful since distemper can be such a death sentence, but i just have a feeling it was just pneumonia all along, combined with getting neutered, moving to a new home, switching food, and being around new people. so hope with me, and i’ll keep you updated!