I've been putting off writing this post but it's been hanging over my head since I got home. It's never going to get easier, and since most of you already know this story, you can skip over it.
Glory was, apparently, not meant to be our dog for long. As you all know we took her back to the shelter when Tater and I left to go out west. About a month later the shelter called and told Reid that Glory had rejected the puppies (which at seven weeks is pretty natural as they were eating solid food and socializing with one another) and that he could come get her whenever he liked. In fact, they said that she was acting depressed and that it would probably be a good thing to come get her sooner rather than later, since she was out in the runs with the other dogs at the shelter and not doing well in the socializing department.
Reid was excited to go get her because after all he had been here all by himself for almost a month. He went and got her and did notice that she seemed kind of depressed. More importantly though she seemed to have some mastitis in one of her teats and a runny nose and watery eyes. He immediately took her to the vet who prescribed an antibiotic. And she seemed to do much better for awhile, though she still seemed to have a cough that wouldn't go away.
Then three Thursdays ago, she started having tremors in her leg. And then they moved to her whole body. Reid called the emergency vet who said Reid should bring her into the vet's office first thing in the morning because all of the symptoms sounded like distemper. We said, how could that be? She was vaccinated in April and again in May. Reid took her in on Friday morning and the vet swapped underneath her eyelid, to send for the test that would show distemper. He said the only thing we could do was wait and see... Poor Reid was, of course, beside himself and told me that night that all he wanted was resolution, either to be told for sure that it was or was not distemper (a disease for which there is no cure). But unfortunately they had to send the sample out of the valley and we knew we wouldn't get the results until the next week, at the earliest.
Glory, in her infinite sweetness, decided that Reid wouldn't have to wait for the test results. She had a grand mal seizure early Saturday morning (distemper moves quickly upon infection and eventually results in neurological symptoms that get worse and worse until the dog dies). He called the vet, took her in and had her put to sleep. All while I was fifteen hundred miles away and could do nothing but support him over the phone! We got the test results at the beginning of this week. She was positive for distemper.
Apparently vaccines are the least likely to take when a dog is pregnant. At that time her hormone levels are fluctuating so greatly and her immune system is attacking things inside her body (in order to keep the pups safe) at a really high rate, probably before she could build antibodies. Because of the short duration of time between exposure and the first signs of the disease, we are reasonably sure that she contracted it while back at the shelter after being removed from the puppies. The only two apparent blessings to this otherwise terrible event is that no other dogs at the shelter have shown signs of distemper (so don't ask me where she got because she certainly didn't come into contact with any dogs while here and she came to Reid already exhibiting the first symptoms) and that Tater was with me in DC while all of it went down. He has been repeatedly vaccinated but it was nice that we didn't have to worry about him being exposed.
And we have learned three very valuable lessons from this experience. First, vaccinating your pets is REALLY important. It only takes a brief exposure to another dog or cat for them to be infected with a disease like distemper, for which there is no cure. Second, we're going to take a bit more care in the future in terms of where we adopt a pet from ('cause I really don't think we could handle this stress over again). And third, love your pets every second of every day, because you don't know how short or long their time will be with you!
In my next post I'll introduce you to the little guy (a cat we are cat-sitting) who helped to raise Reid's spirits during the week between losing Glory and my getting home. "Sweets" is truly sweet.
4 days ago