Parvo – that word had always been a mysterious disease that puppies and very old dogs get. Until this weekend. Parvo hit MY house. It started out as an exciting adventure to rescue a new puppy and foster him or her in our home. A fun drive to the shelter with my daughter, lots of laughing and imagining what might be there for us to choose from. The shelter, a clean place, that does it’s best to care for the huge number of animals delivered to its doors, welcomed us. We peeked at each puppy, speaking softly, seeing the responses, examining the behavior and condition of the kennel they were in, looking for any signs of an illness. We found a kennel with three cuties and we could not decide on which two to take and could not bear to leave the one behind. It was an easy and funny decision at the time to just take all three – we could do it we giggled.
We rescued three beautiful, squirmy, tail wagging, face licking babies and happily headed home. We quarantined the puppies, thinking in a few days they would all be running through the house and socializing with our dogs. We left them for about 2 hours and when we checked back – one was sick. Not just a little car sick, or sick from nerves – one was sick! My heart sank, the watery diarrhea, the lethargic, sad little eyes looking at me at and the still wagging tail – heartbreaking. I didn’t think this baby would live to see the morning it was so bad. An urgent request for prayers when out to my friends. And so began a night of giving water to him with a syringe. I cuddled, I cooed, and I gave water – thinking I wanted those last few hours to be safe and loving for him. And I wondered – what the heck is Parvo really anyway?!
Bright and early the next morning a weak cheer went up in my heart for a living puppy and a mad dash to the vet confirmed it. Parvo. The internet research began – it’s a virus, a mean virus that attacks the intestines, with symptoms of watery and bloody diarrhea, zapping the life from the tiny victims. It lives everywhere, and the unvaccinated puppies and adults with weak immune systems are at the highest risk. “Lucky” for me, I had the virus quarantined in my room and now had to take super human efforts to keep it contained there.
The sickest one had to stay at the vet, the other two began showing signs and it was too late to get them to the vet…I had to get through 48 hours until I could take them in. Can you imagine holding tiny little lives, feeding liquids in an effort to keep them alive and feeling so inept at the task?
My foster puppies made it. They survived this battle and need some time to recover. The thing that touches my heart the most – no matter how sick, they wagged their tails, no matter how sick, they licked my cheek, no matter how sick they were happy to see me. Humbling. The only word I can think of.
What do I want you to take away from this? Protect and prevent!! Protect the little ones, spay and neuter the adults and vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. I don’t wish any foster or new owner to ever have to experience what I did…and I think I had it easy. If you adopt a puppy, keep them off the ground and away from adult dogs until the puppy series of vaccines has been given. If you have adult dogs, please vaccinate. You CAN prevent your dog from getting this virus or at least lessen the risk. They depend on you. - By Terri Cousins