My voluntary dog walking took a drastic turn when one day, Lapi refused to eat. Her owner reported the news and I suspected she had eaten something rotten and would be better soon. However, the next day she still turned up her nose at food, which is extremely odd for a dog. Seeing blood in diarrhoea raised alarm bells further and a call to the vet confirmed to bring her in.
This was during lockdown and we were not allowed into the city without a signed declaration of reason for essential travel. So I filled one out and carried the weak dog into the passenger seat foot well. Poor thing. She looked so sad. It seemed the longest journey ever as I drove cautiously down the windy road to protect her from bumps and jars. At the road block, the policeman raised an eyebrow at my paperwork. When I pointed downwards, his eyes followed. He nodded understandingly and waved me through.
At the vets, one quick tester inserted where the sun doesn’t shine, and the result was Parvovirus; a serious canine intestinal virus that can kill puppies quickly. Poor Lapi. She hadn’t received her vaccinations but luckily was now 7 months old so had a chance.
Usually transmitted from other dogs, but no new dogs had arrived in my remote village for ages so probability fell to foxes or wolves. There were many about and a rather sick looking fox had been seen. The only treatment was to prevent dehydration and hope her body fought off the disease. A stay at the vets was in order to administer food intravenously and keep an eye on her.
It was heart-breaking to leave her as I couldn’t explain but I think she understood. I phoned after 2 days to discover she was still being sick. I crossed everything and after another 2 days called the vet again. “Good news” he said, “She is not vomiting anymore but won’t eat. You should come in the see her tomorrow.” So I filled out another declaration for essential travel and drove the 90 minute journey, hoping she would be allowed to come back with me.
Once more at the vets, curled up in a cage, she slowly raised her head when I spoke her name. She shakily got her feet and came towards me but kept her eyes closed. I’ve never seen an animal look so dejected. She head butted my leg and leant heavily into me. I fussed her and talked to her and she began to get some life back. She half opened her eyes at looked deep into mine, almost as if to say ‘Why me?’ Tears came to my own and I tried to keep strong for her. I encouraged her to eat something, offering the bowl of dog food but she turned away.
She started to move about and explore the room that she had been caged in. Doing the rounds then coming and resting her head against me while I fussed her some more. I talked constantly, reassuring her everything was OK; I was back and going to take her home if she ate something. She licked my fingers and I realised what was needed. I’d brought her favourite dog food and treat of boiled egg. I took a pinch of egg and offered it to her mouth. She sniffed it and licked her lips but again turned her head away. A few more circuits of the tiny room and back, before she finally took some food from my fingers. Instantly I smiled. “Good girl” I exclaimed. “A little bit more” and she did. I broke off a tiny chunk of dog food meat and tried that. Scored! I felt like I had struck gold.
The nurse came in and when I told her she had eaten, she looked forlorn. Said she had tried over and over but no luck. Then she smiled and said, “It’s because she’s your dog”.
“She’s not my dog”, I corrected, “I just walk her for an elderly neighbour.”
“But it’s obvious she loves you”.
“I wish she was mine” said I, “I have been walking her twice a day for 2 months and love her so much but at least I have time with her everyday”.
I’d forgotten to bring her collar and lead so bought a new red pair and took her outside for some fresh air. She perked up even more, investigated and found a patch of grass to fertilise. The vet arrived to see the change in her and congratulate me. He agreed I could take her home but warned she was still infectious to other dogs so must be on-guard. Finally back at mine, I took her inside for a much needed shower after being cooped up all week, and she dried off next to the wood fire while I cooked chicken and rice. She ate a little then curled up and slept.
After a few hours she woke, ate some more and padded over to the door. I took her out for toilet time and once relieved, she headed straight for my old dog’s kennel and curled up inside. Her look was one of ‘This is my home, please don’t make me go away again’.
I went to my neighbour to tell him the good news and asked if she could stay at mine so I could monitor her. He said “Of Course”, that he totally understood, had already talked to the vet and wanted me to have her. “She’s yours now as you can look after her better and if it wasn’t for you, she wouldn’t be alive”.
I hugged him, promised I would care for her and when she was better, would bring her to visit.
I checked on her once more and her thumping tail told me she was going to be alright now thanks to my Tender Loving Care.
Coming up in my next blog, further events in the dog’s recuperation…