Fourteen days ago, I was talking to my grandma on the phone. “I’m not a ‘dog person’ by any means, but I’m glad Nate got them. This dang German Shepherd sheds everywhere and he’s slobbery, but he lays his head on my lap when I’m sad and he has the sweetest eyes. And that little one has become attached to me at the hip. He’s something else.”
I was reluctant to get the dogs, but they slowly became a welcome addition to the family. I picked up some treats that day to continue training Bjorne how to respond to my commands. He’s always been good around the kids, having come into a home full of babies when he was just a baby himself, but I wanted him to react immediately when I called.
Eleven days ago, I hollered angrily across the field to Nate after discovering that Bjorne had left an accident on the kitchen floor. “They’re your dogs, YOU take care of them!” I figured Nate was sneaking him bits of sausage or something to upset his stomach. Nothing out of the ordinary. And then he went from troubled to sick to deathly ill, practically overnight.
Eight days ago, I was told that Bjorne had a deadly disease called Parvo. After the relative indifference I’d shown towards him, I was wracked with grief when the test came back. We didn’t have the money to admit him to an animal hospital, so I turned to my vet sister-in-law for help. She sighed and looked worried, and she filled a bag with prescriptions. “Doing something is always better than doing nothing.”
Five days ago, I fell asleep on a couch by Bjorne’s side. I administered IVs and force-fed him with a syringe. In this bleary mess of blood and fluids I finally realized I’d fallen in love with this little dog. He shook violently with hypoglycemia and I did what I could, rubbing maple syrup on his gums to stabilize blood sugar. Alternating him from heating pads to ice packs as his temperature fluctuated wildly, I realized all that was left was to pray.
Three days ago, he started to turn around and I finally granted myself the luxury of hope. I’d done all I could do and needed a distraction to keep my hands busy. So – what else? – I crafted. I made him a box of goodies to use when he got better. I just knew he would get better, despite the gravely-quoted odds. I boxed up my pup’s well-worn collar, his leash and travel bowl and a pack of treats to keep him occupied and show him love during our many future trips together. To the lake, to the fields, to Oma and Opa’s house. I talked to Bjorne about the many adventures that awaited, and he mustered the effort to curiously cock his head to the side.
Yesterday, we emerged. Dare I say, out of the woods? I fed him from that box and he wagged his stumpy tail. I smiled, and I swear he did too.
The medication is over and he’s playing outside as I type. The family’s gathered for a walk (around our own property, as we don’t want to risk other pets being exposed until he’s definitely stopped being contagious). I’ve checked Kraken’s records and made sure he’s vaccinated, since I really can’t go through this again. We have a camping trip planned, where the dogs can frolic on the beach with the kids, nothing to worry about but sand and fish and making memories.
Have you ever had an experience with Parvo?