Friday, February 12, 2010
How not to raise a puppy
I started this blog because I thought it would be fun to be a spokesperson for the "not so perfect" dog trainers out there. When I got Coach, I continued with the "not so perfect" way to raise a puppy. I have carried "not so perfect" too far. I let Coach and Jazz play outside for hours with dozens of toys and I didn't patrol the yard enough. Poor Coach has paid for that error.
Last week Coach was sick to his stomach. I thought it was a puppy thing and didn't worry too much. He kept being sick though and when he woke up Sunday morning and refused to eat or drink anything I started to really worry. By the time I was dressed and ready to take him to the emergency clinic he was still outside throwing up on an empty stomach. I have had a sick dog or two in my day and I know when to run for the vet.
The emergency clinic did blood tests and xrays. They showed me a blurry picture with a gray and white S in the middle. Turns out intestines aren't supposed to look like that on an xray. One minute I was thinking he had some kind of virus and the next minute I realized he had an intestinal blockage and he might die. It's been a very long time since tears sprang into my eyes like that. I knew I had that stupid look on my face and I was trying very hard to hear every word she said. She asked me if they should go ahead and do the surgery. I know that there are lots of reasons a person might be unable or unwilling to schedule a surgery for their puppy. I am very grateful that I could say yes.
I asked to see him before they put him under for the surgery. I had no illusions that he cared, but I really needed to give him a hug. The vet tech asked me if he was lethargic. Anyone who knows Coach would have been shocked. He wasn't just lethargic, he was completely out of it. He stood in front of me and just looked at me. He didn't bark, jump, lick, slobber, wag his tail or try to eat my earrings. Lethargic does not begin to describe how truly miserable the poor little guy was. The only points in my favor were that he was not yet dehydrated and he did not have a fever.
I waited at home all afternoon. I was a mess. I am so grateful that my daughter lives next door and came and sat with me all afternoon. I wasn't the best company, but she sat there all day with me. The clinic finally called at just about kick off of the Super Bowl, to tell me the surgery went well. His intestine was not damaged and they took out two pieces of fabric that looked like a stuffed toy. I thought it was a teddy bear. It may have been, but I haven't found anything that looks like the remains yet. I'll keep looking.
I had to drive to the clinic through a blizzard on Monday night to bring Coach home and I worried about how Jazz would react. He seemed so peaceful and content with the puppy gone that I was afraid he would be sorry to see his little brother. I was very mistaken. I got home and had to carry 50 pounds of puppy up a flight of stairs. I put him down and walked him outside to let him pee. Jazz did the cutest happy dance I have ever seen. He raced around the yard, bounced in the air, licked Coach's ears and was generally welcoming. It was so darn cute I could hardly stand it!
Coach is healing very well, but I am still afraid he may hurt himself before he is healed. He is supposed to stay calm and quiet for two weeks. No exercise except to go outside and go to the bathroom. He has to eat canned I/D food, is wearing an inflatable collar to keep him from licking the incision, and has to stay in his crate or on a leash. It has been miserable. He barked nonstop for about three days. I figure this is my opportunity to really teach him how to behave in a crate. Tonight we are making progress. He is being quiet and I am rewarding long stretches of quiet. We are also working hard on "stay" and "leave it." Kongs are a wonderful invention and can be filled with canned dog food. Jazz is very sad and confused. Every time we go outside, Jazz tries to party with Coach. They start puppy bowing and bouncing around and I have to be the bad guy and stop all play and fun. I can't wait until a week from Sunday. I will go out there with them and instead of stopping the fun, I will join in.
Meanwhile, every toy that pops up out of the snow is coming inside. I am going to be a better dog owner. I will take good care of this silly puppy and try to be sure he doesn't kill himself before he even gets through puberty!
at 8:32 PM