Shani’s Tale: Her condition was hopeless, but….
The year was 1979. The place, Australia. I was 22 years old and the proud owner of two Rough Collies that had gotton their Championships.
Each made CDX. I also thought I knew it all as far as dogs were concerned. As my birthday was coming up. my unimaginative boyfriend gave me $200 cash in a birthday card. Well, obviously I was going to spend it on my beloved dogs.
Brain flash! (Twenty-two-year-olds are not known for flashy brains.) I want a toy dog companion!
It was an easy matter to find a breeder with surplus Chihuahuas. Chihuahuas being the only “toy” dog I could think of. On arrival, I was shown a very small chocolate smooth-coat bitch of nine months. She seemed in dreadful condition and feral to boot.
As I backed out of the deal slowly and I hope politely, she bolted from her owner’s arms. Lickety-split she made her way to the edge of the fence perimeter. The fence was made of barbed wire, and as she tried to escape she caught the flesh of her very skinny backbone under the wire. Blood was flowing! Her owner decided in his wisdom to pick up a broom and try to extricate her by smacking her, which only caused more tearing of her skin.
“May I try to get her”?, I asked. “Sure, but the bloody thing bites,” he said. Calling softly, “Pup, pup, pup,” I was somehow allowed to pry the barbs from her flesh. When I finally had her in my arms I noticed a very bulging tummy, as thin as she was. Yes, she was pregnant, but how far along her “breeder” could not say. She needed stitches at the very least, and although I did not want her I could not leave her to the “breeder’s” tender mercies. I left $200 dollars poorer and with a dog that needed vet attention immediately.
We went directly to my vet. He pronounced her wormy, starved, needing stitches and approximately six or so weeks pregnant! He also advised me to keep her right away from the Collies until she was cleared of all her problems.
Thank God I listened!
She had been with me three days when I noticed her passing a lot of frank blood from the anus. Meanwhile, back at the vet’s, he diagnosed a new disease called “parvo.” “I have had three cases and all have terminated from the disease,” he said. “With a litter on board and her poor general condition, she really has no hope. Euthanasia is the kindest thing. She was very lucky you found her so her suffering will be short-lived.” Being 22, I thought all things were possible.
“I want to try, she deserves better.” And I was adamant.
“Well, let’s treat the symptoms and hope for the best. I do expect you to get back to me and not let her suffer. She really has had enough in her short life. Even healthy, she is too young and tiny to carry this litter. I’ll put her on a drip, give Vitamin K, and I want her turned gently every hour or so. Watch the drip as you do this. Clean her eyes with saline and wash her mouth out. Keep her warm and make sure the air is humidified. Zinc cream for her bottom AND DO NOT LEAVE HER SIDE. Keep talking to her and keep her spirits up. Her only chance is intensive nursing now, and she cannot stay here. Good luck. I do think you will lose her, but if she does have ANY chance at all she will be better off at home.”
The drip bag hung from the ceiling and diapers were under her for easy cleaning. On day five of her illness she started to eat. By day six she was up on her feet. Ten days later she gave birth naturally to a litter of three. One of her pups did perish at five weeks from heart complications due to the recent parvo infection.
But Shani survived and is a very ancient old lady now. She has been with me throughout both of our adult lives. Thanks to her, I went on to vet nursing and the reputable breeding of toys. She is 18 years old now. Completely deaf, slightly blind, but her organ-function blood tests come back (so far) as all systems go. We learned a lot together, the two of us. And we keep on learning.