There were four pit bulls in that room when one came down with parvo and died. The three remaining pit bulls seemed doomed, because no one wanted to risk bringing a parvo-exposed dog into their rescue. In fact, we could not even get a transport arranged after we agreed to take them because of the exposure to parvo.
So I drove to Dallas and picked up Pickle, Oreo and Linus, the three pit bulls who had been exposed. Oreo and Linus were adult dogs who had already been neutered -- being neutered meant they had belonged to people who had cared about them at some point, and so they probably had been innoculated against parvo.
But Pickle was a different story. He was still a pup and he was unaltered. The risk of getting parvo was very real for Pickle.
On the long trip home from Dallas, I stopped at a Jack in the Box and ordered all three boys plain hamburgers. Oreo and Linus wolfed theirs down, hamburger, bun and all, but Pickle needed coaxing. He finally ate the hamburger patty when i removed the bun and broke his hamburger into small pieces for him. That was the first clue that parvo may be setting in.
By next morning, Pickle still had no appetite and he seemed listless, so I immediately rushed him to our vet, Dr. John Stern at Needville Animal Clinic. Dr. Stern tested him and confirmed the worst -- Pickle had parvo. Pickle was put on an IV and went into Dr. Stern's ICU, where he spent the next week. Because we caught the disease early and began treating it immediately, Pickle survived the ordeal and beat parvo, under Dr. Stern's excellent care. He came home and we put him in his very own bedroom, because we knew he could shed the parvo virus for a while, even after he was cured. His appetite returned and things were looking up for Pickle...
Until the following week, when he started sliding downhill again. He lost his appetite and became listless and quiet, and he developed a cough. Once again, he was rushed to Dr. Stern where the diagnosis this time was pneumonia! The prognosis was guarded, because Pickle was still so weakened from his battle with parvo. There was another week in Dr. Stern's ICU on an IV, but once again, Pickle beat the odds and survived the pneumonia as well!
Back home, we rejoiced that Pickle had eluded death not once but twice! We looked forward to Pickle's complete recovery so that he could finally go outside to run and play with other dogs.
And then we noticed that he was starting to lose his fur. After a couple days it was clear that he was developing mange. It turned out to be the kind that comes from inside his body. It is unclear which is cause and which is result: does Pickle have mange because his early illnesses compromised his immune system, or did he get the early illnesses and mange because his immune system is already compromised? I guess we will never really know. Pickle continues to battle mange periodically.
But he now has a friend, Gloria, and they run and play and have a ball together in their play yard. In spte of all his physical ups and downs, Pickle is still alive and enjoying every day.
Jay Hellerich, executive director
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