It always breaks my heart when breeder surrenders come in with medical issues. The lack of care that we see with these dogs is horrible. And that’s just the dogs we see. Kellie is one of those dogs. Her foster sent me her story.
It has been a long road for my little foster dog, Kellie. Most people fall in love with animals instantly when they see their cute little eyes, or the color of their coats, or their gestures or smiles (yes, dogs smile…have you seen it?) But for the sake of our foster hearts, we gaze at them for only a moment, and go deeper. For those who have had dogs (or cats) that have had some kind of medical problem, we all know quickly, as if by second nature.
Kellie is that kind of dog, you know, the kind with the beautiful eyes and the black shiny coat. She came with a number of other dogs we had gotten from a owner surrender situation. Another Shih-Tzu came with Kellie, who seemed to be bonded with her in a special way. They came into my care from the same “breeder surrender” and at first I wondered if it could have been her pup, since Kellie is 7 years old, and the other was a lucky twelve months.
Kellie’s file documented that she was a brindle-colored, male Shih-Tzu. This was not the case! She is definitely black and white, and definitely female. She looked pregnant…her belly was round and soft, her nipples seeping scarce amounts of milk. She began to have bloody diarrhea so I took her to the vet who believed she had an intestinal problem. He prescribed her various medications, but much to my dismay, things weren’t changing for Kellie. I changed her diet to home-made food, and became a nurse. Time sheets were important, posting when she ate, drank, and had accidents. When the antibiotic prescribed was taken in full, I scheduled her for a spay procedure.
I became increasingly alert about her symptoms daily; while I had one prior foster, he did not have these symptoms. On the morning of her spay, I looked at her, all curled up beside me in bed, smelling like Doritos. Yes, Doritos! I can’t tell you why or what, but my gut feeling was a definite negative about going to the doctor to get spayed. She was still ill and weak.
I called the vet who was able to see her that day. On top of her bloody diarrhea, she had developed a strange panting…the long, drawn-out kind which sounded like she couldn’t catch her breath. She would frequently walk a few steps, but then would abruptly sit down..with her face drawn down two inches from the floor. She began to choke which sounded something like a duck, and she’d run as if she was scared of the sound. I got in the car and drove the seemingly eternal time to get to the doctor’s office!
The vet was perplexed. He could not find any evidence to suggest problems with her tracheal tube, something another volunteer and I discussed the night prior. He took blood samples and an x-ray which ruled out tracheal collapse. When he came into the room a second time, I realized that my gut reaction to problems about animals could be trusted. She had a chest x-ray which revealed her heart to look like a backwards capital D, and her diagnosis of congestive heart failure was made. I felt like crying, and I would have, if I had not sat there holding this bundle of soft black and white fur. He told me that it is a progressive disease, that she would never get better, or cured, but that there was medication she could take that would slow down the process. She also had a stitch in her stomach which was apparently a stitch that didn’t disappear from her spay!
The following days and weeks went by, every day giving her what she needed in medication, food and love. I thanked God that she would live another day when I got up in the morning, because I knew and still know that her days are numbered. She slowly and surely got better. She would go out for “walks” that required the few steps she would be able to grant. She slept a lot and drank a lot. I think it took the medication two to three weeks to clear the on-again-off-again honking sound of her cough. She began to eat better. She even rolled on her back.
Now, she has subluxing patellae on both hind legs, and I hear them pop every so often. This will be something she will need to get fixed. The last problem is that of menses. She was not properly spayed, if indeed that was what happened from wherever we got her…the vet thinks that it was either a C-section or a term called ovarian remnant.
So, this is Kellie’s story. It’s so amazing that every day when we get up, she wags her tail and comes to the kitchen to sit, patiently waiting for her medication dipped in peanut butter, hidden in yogurt, or smashed into turkey. She is an amazing survivor and she is loved.