Monday, September 22, 2008

Dog on the Blog: Clarice Came Into the World With Two Strikes Against Her

This is Clarice. She arrived at the farm, still tucked safely inside her mommy, Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea had been roaming the streets of Boling, a small community near by, and was very pregnant when she came to live here. Shortly after arriving, Sweet Pea delivered six babies, including Clarice.

Sweet Pea is a white, blue eyed pit bull who is also deaf. So Clarice did not start from a strong gene pool to begin with. We know nothing of her daddy, but he must have had genetic issues as well.

Just a week into their lives, the Sweet Pea pups began having serious medical issues. Ironically, Clarice was the first baby to be rushed to the vet. It was clear she was not thriving like her sibblings, and we were worried. Her trip to the vet would be repeated over and over and over -- with her and her sibblings. As one baby would start to come around, another would get sick.

The Sweet Pea babies were overly susciptible to mange and other skin infections.

We lost Danny Boy and Patches as babies -- less than 6 months old, in spite of their constant vet care. Bruiser and Sambo appeared to have outgrown their frailty and grew to be almost a year old when suddenly one died, and then the other less than a month later. The vet was unable to find any reason he could diagnose for either death.

That left Clarice and Little Sister as the survivors.

(Clarice is posing here with Alfried, on the bed!)

But both girls were very prone to mange and both girls would go through periods when their body weight would just plummet, regardless of what we did to try to get weight back on them. Special diets and diet supplements did no good. One girl would come out of it and start to put weight back on, and then the other girl would go into a nosedive and lose half her body weight.

The vet was never able to diagnose what caused this peculiar behavior.

About nine months ago, Little Sister was in one of those nosedives. She lost body weight in spite of vitamin supplements and special foods. She went to the vet twice and he put her on an IV both times, but even that was not enough. Unlike the other times this had happened to her, Little Sister did not pull out of it and one night, in the early morning hours, she died in our arms in the middle of our bed.

From that day forward, we have been very conscious that Clarice is the last surviving Sweet Pea baby. Because of her frail immune system, she lives full time in our bedroom. She only goes outdoors when she is going to the car to see the vet. We are afraid she will contract a disease or a parasite outside that may kill her, because she is too weak to fight them off.
Up until about a month ago, Clarice had been thriving. She had become almost overweight. She was big and solid and healthy.
Then one day she managed to get out of her collar somehow, and she chewed it up and swallowed part of it. She began "spitting up" like an infant. She would not vomit volumes, but just a tiny bit. And she would do that over and over.
We took her to Dr. Stern who X-rayed her and thought he could see a mass inside her tummy. The decision was made to wait and see if the collar worked its way through her.
We took her back last Saturday because she has been losing weight and is still urping up small amounts of vomit. Dr. Stern X-rayed her again, and he could still see the mass, although it was in a slightly different part of her tummy. He recommended exploratory surgery this morning, because Clarice is slowly starving to death, because whatever is blocking part of her tummy is not allowing all her food to digest and be used.
Our fear was that Clarice might not be strong enough to take the invasive assault on her body from surgery. Dr. Stern had suggested a specialist who might be able to use an endoscope to go down through her esophagus, snag the lump in her tummy, and pull it back through her throat, so that she would not have to go under the knife.
But the handful of Houston area doctors who work with endoscopes are all very expensive... and the ones I talked to seem to be convinced that endoscope will not work in this case.
That means Clarice's only chance is to undergo surgery to remove whatever she swallowed that is showing up in that X-ray.
We will be talking to Dr. Stern again in the morning to see what he thinks we should do.
To Be Continued...

Jay Hellerich, executive director
smiling dog farms
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wharton, texas

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