Post Parvo Worries

Bear survived the worst of it.  Kristin, the trainer, visited bear right after the feeding tube was inserted, right after he threw up after they started using the feeding tube.  She didn’t tell us at the time, but she didn’t think he was going to make it.  She had never seen a puppy look so sick.

Now Bear is back in the house, acting like a puppy, which means sleeping a lot and hijacking a lot of random items around the house.  A friend of Fiona’s came over for dinner the other night and when she was leaving she could only find one shoe.  “Did anyone see where my shoe went?” she asked.  I told her to look in the living room as that was a favorite gathering spot for Bear’s things.  And there it was on the area rug, surprisingly unharmed.

It is great to have Bear back in strength, but some worries remain.  A couple of side effects I am worried about are stunted growth and stamina, damage to smelling from the feeding tube, and soft stools.  The first I am not that worried about as Bear is already pretty big, so him being smaller than what he would have been is not a problem for me.  Damage to his sniffer would be detrimental to Bear working as an assist-dog.  He smells the low and high blood sugar, so if it is damaged, he may turn into a lazy lab pet.  I am optimistic about his sniffing capabilities, as he seems to be recognizing scent samples.  I am most concerned about his stool never firming up.*  Not only am I afraid of his future health if his intestines never fully recover, I also fear for my insides not able to handle cleaning up after a Slurpee spray on the lawn.

It has been a week since Bear was released and he seems to be doing great (save for the low viscosity of his stool).  Kristin said that he can’t come back to her property for a total of four more weeks to minimize the possibility of leaving parvovirus at her yard.  Reading about the effects, after-effects, and how to deal with your home after parvo online concerns me.  Bear is through the worst of it, so I can empathize with many of the posts, but I cringe at what some suggest to do to rid the virus from your home.  I am leaning towards denial.  I’d rather live in bliss while the virus goes from dormant to dead after six months.  I’d rather not purchase Clorox in bulk to cleanse the yard and areas of the home.

*Not only has he been on an antibiotic, but he has also found treasures in the kids’ rooms, including a pan of brownies and a box of cereal.


Lowering the viscosity

After a bit of activity, Bear cashes out for a nap.

I have never had a puppy before.  I’ve had two dogs.  Max was sort of a puppy when we got him in Eugene, but he didn’t last long after he snapped at a three-month old Fiona.  Annie, our second dog, we found on the internet.  Annie could very well have been the best dog of all time.  She was very mellow; she put up with babies crawling over her; and she was very low maintenance.  She might have gone to the vet three times in the twelve years we had her.

From my experience dog’s are very reliable and consistent with their bowel movements.  Proportional to their size, the poops scooped easily, keeping their form.  Aside from the occasional consumption of a diaper, causing a gag reflex in the human trying to clean up the pile, the grown dog is easy to pick up after.

Not so much the puppy.  I was told that a puppy’s GI tract can be sensitive, but I (ahem) poopoo-ed that, thinking that from all I’d seen, dogs eat and then they poop. First, puppies eat just about anything.  In addition to the organic material, the Lego and Nerf toys make for great meals.  Second, puppies get sick more easily as their immune systems get up to speed.

Before getting Parvo, Bear would have what I would consider a reliable pile about every other day.  The unreliable piles might have the beginnings of reliability, but end with a soft-serve consistency.  Later in the day, the promising beginnings vanished, leaving just a pile of soft-serve to manage, which I might say is manageable.

Back from the pet-hospital, Bear had one or two reliable piles.  Unfortunately, he is on an antibiotic while he recovers (it is worth mentioning that it is amoxicillin, the identical antibiotic that has been prescribed to the kids).  Just like with humans, antibiotics causes diarrhea.  It’s gone from soft-serve to an espresso machine.  Not only in consistency, but even with sounds.  I feel for Bear as he is mending from his insides getting torn apart from the parvovirus, but my insides start gurgling at the site of a triple espresso pour.  I try to limit these concoctions to our yard (or the vacant house next door), giving them time to harden over a few days of dehydration.

On our walk this morning, however, we were not in the yard when he pulled up his hind legs to his front paws in ready position.  We did happen to be at a less manicured lawn, and on the boulevard (the strip between the sidewalk and the street).  Thank goodness I had a double-layered newspaper bag, which in the end protected me from full-on vomiting.

I managed to scoop about half of the mess up while suppressing my gag reflex.  As I thought on how to tie the bag up without making a mess of my hands, the owner of the house poked her head out of the front door.  She thanked me for cleaning up after my dog, and commented on how cute he was.  The hand holding the aqua-dump in a bag shot out straight.  I am not sure whether I was trying to simply get it away from me, or I was trying to bring attention to the bag holding only part of the pile, which would divert attention from the remains that seeped into the dry grass.

Whether it was the angle from which she stood, or the bag of doo held high with pride, she did not notice what remained.  And I am thankful for that.  It is my hope that the last of the amoxicillin, which dilutes things at the tail end, will also be the end of the espresso machine.

And I broke down and bought one of those roles of baggies that can be attached to the end of a leash.

Back home

After one last trip to the beach, and some swimming in the pool, we left the land of “nice cars” and “fancy houses”.  We departed the land of Mercedes, BMWs, and Audis, heading north to the land of Mazdas, Subarus, and trucks.  We traded the nice water of Del Mar beach for the murky chlorine of Sellwood pool.

Aaron picked us up at the airport with Bear in tow.  He was very happy, but tired.  After licking hellos, he quickly settled back down to sleep.  Once we got home and went inside, however, he was really excited.  He was happy to see his people, but overjoyed to be back in his digs after his five-day stay at the hospital, three days at the Souther’s, and one day at Aaron’s.  And he was hungry.

He scarfed down the bland food from the vet, and moved onto the kibble from the pantry.  He looked the part of a starving dog, and was acting as one as well.

We went through some of the training from ten days before: Go to bed, scent-training, and obedience.  I am curious to see how he picks these skills back up.  Going on walks is clearly something he has not done very much of.  The obedience and scent training is also something that he needs more practice with.  On the whole Bear still needs a lot of rest, and his excitement for being home is masking somewhat his need to mend.

It’s nice to be back home with Bear, though our time in San Diego was great.

Maggie at the Del Mar racetrack, viewing horses before the post.


Maggie and Declan on our way into Legoland (one of the low points of the trip)


ImageAccording to the ever reliable source of Wikipedia, only nine percent of dogs survive parvo.  Bear is officially in that category.

After six days at the pet hospital, Bear was discharged to our great friend Mel, who has been caring for him along with her daughters.  We get occasional updates on how he is doing via Instagram (Fiona and Maggie let us know when a “Bear” pic has been posted) and texts.  He is eating voraciously and being spoiled.

Aaron takes over as Bear’s warden until we return tomorrow night.

We hope to get back on track with training upon our return.



Before leaving for San Diego, we visited Bear at Dove-Lewis pet hospital.  He didn’t look that good.  We now get twice or thrice daily updates from Dove-Lewis, my mom (yes, she is on the call list), and Kristin (the trainer).

As we left our visit with Bear, after we took off the gowns, rubber gloves, footy slippers, and dipped our feet in some toxic solution to kill any remaining Parvovirus, the technician warned us that dogs with parvo often don’t make it.  She told us that we should be realistic but still be hopeful.  She had told us that he was doing better in the morning, but then tailed off as the day wore on, which is often how I feel on any given day.

Most of the updates about Bear are stagnant.  They don’t change much.  He really hasn’t eaten anything aside from 16 kibbles of food.  He had really bad diarrhea, but that has since diminished, along with the blood in the diarrhea.  His blood work has remained decent for a dog with parvo.  Other communications I’ve had with Dove-Lewis is with their accountant giving more permissions to charge our Visa.

It is worth noting that they knew exactly how many kibbles Bear ate.  This and the other list of things they know about Bear (white blood cell count, protein levels, and others I can neither pronounce nor spell) is an indication of the bill accumulating.


We are in San Diego and enjoying the environs, including Legoland.  Just before Maggie, Declan, and I loaded into the car I gave consent to use the feeding tube to get some much needed nutrients to Bear.

Legoland sucks.  I would get much more bang for my buck playing Lotto or PowerBall.  The buildup is similar.  There is great expectation about the fun to be had.  You fantasize about what would be your first move.  With the lottery you wonder where you would live and what you would do everyday.  With Legoland you wonder about which ride to go on, which models to build, and how much fun the kids will have.

Then reality hits.  With the lottery it is over pretty quick.  The last lotto ticket I had, which was given to me as a birthday present, I did not have even one matching number.  Shouldn’t there be some sort of “total loser” prize for not getting even one number matched?  Like they’d give you the price of the ticket back, or half the price of the ticket?

At Legoland reality creeps up to you slowly.  It starts with parking.  You drive into this giant expanse of a parking lot.  There is nothing around.  No one would drive out to this place and park and not shell out the $89 to get into the park, yet they charge you $12 to park.  And that is the economy lot.  You can pay $20 for the privilege of parking closer in.

At the airport there is short-term, long-term, long-long-term, and then there is economy parking.  This is the economy parking; at the airport it is one or two exits before the airport with a 15 minute shuttle ride to departures.  For $12 we found a spot that was a 15 minute walk to the entrance.

Once in the park there are the lines, and the heat, and more lines to get food, and then paying for food.  The bill for lunch, which I abstained from, was $25.  Dec had a grilled cheese kids meal, and Maggie had a roast beef sandwich and a drink.  The drink was $3.50, which I had high hopes for until seeing the “Sorry no refills” sign at the fountain (I learned my lesson trying to dupe food service at a ski area cafeteria in high school).

I got more bitter as the day progressed with more incidental fees being tacked on (you have to pay $5 to dry yourself outside the squirt gun zone).  Not sure it was worth the couple of pictures captured.  I’m hoping there will be more lasting memories for the kids than the relief felt as we entered the “Build it…Test it” room that was both “free” AND air-conditioned.

Aside from the AC, the highlight for me was getting a text from Kristin.  She had just spoken to the vet, who told Kristin that she expects Bear to make it.  She said that he’ll likely be able to go home after another two to four days.  Kristin also said that the pharmaceutical company that we got the vaccinations from might pay for part or all of Bear’s bill.

My immediate thought was relief.  Then I quickly wondered if Kristin had any idea how much the bill was currently, let alone what it will be after another four days.  I am also considering, somewhat seriously, putting our “project” on for funding.  I just need to come up with a catch name.  I already have plenty of cute pictures to reel people in after they have clicked on the catchy name for our project.

San Diego

Aside from Legoland, San Diego has been awesome.  We went to the beach the first day.  The day turned to evening.  We made a run to Roberto’s for fish tacos and had dinner at the beach while the sun set.  One of my favorite things to do.

And then

We could go back pretty far to find the root of all the events which occurred in the past 18 hours or so.  Could be last March when we decided to dive in and get a service dog.  It could go back to when we were finishing our basement and we decided to go with the pump to get the waste water up to the main stack.  We could go back to when we started having kids, which would then have us digging out the basement (with 5-gallon buckets) to make room for our growing children.

After winning the first game of the tournament, Maggie’s soccer team had just lost six to nil in the second game.  It was a triple digit degree day, and still hot driving home at 830.  I looked forward to a cold beer and an early bedtime.

And then (1)

Walking in the door at nine, I was happy to find leftover burritos in the fridge.  Normally not one to be an audience of boys playing Xbox, I quickly learned why Heather was in the TV room with Declan and two of his friends.  “Declan has lice!”  Have you seen Declan’s hair recently?  The lice had hit the Trifecta, the Club Med for Lice.  Vacation for the lice is over and just in time for our vacation to begin; we are set to fly to visit family in San Diego in just over a day.  Note to self: call and tell sis that we are traveling with some unwanted baggage.

And if you are one of those people who gets grossed out by the mention of lice, then you are probably in the group that either has young kids or no kids.  Just wait.  And don’t freak out when it comes.

Heather was toiling over Dec’s scalp after the treatment, nit-picking, literally (that is where the term originated).  I was trying to enjoy my luke-warm, half-eaten, chicken burritos, trying not to overheat as the heat of the day did not relent to any evening cool breeze.  It was as if we were back in Arlington, VA.

I noticed Bear was conspicuously absent from the scene.  It being so hot, he might be down in the basement where it is slightly more inhabitable.  What garbage was he finding?  What shoe was being torn apart as he played unsupervised in the cool of the basement?

Finishing the burritos, I search for Bear in the basement and actually felt a slight chill in the cool air of the basement.  Bear was nowhere to be found, however.  He was not in his crate that he has begun heading to on his own for his incessant naps.  He was not in Maggie’s room, a favorite of his with hidden snacks all over the place.  He was not in Declan or Fiona’s room.  Turns out he was upstairs sleeping in our room.  And he had a little throw up on the carpet earlier that Heather didn’t have time to clean up.

And then (2)

Bear was clearly not feeling well.  He turned his head away when offered food and water.  After witnessing Bear dry-heaving, bringing back memories of college, I tried to feed a Pepto-Bismol to settle things.  It worked for me back in the day.  However, he doesn’t even take the cheese wrapped Pepto-Bismol that he normally dances for.  Could it be that he’d moved up to larger Lego pieces and the 2×4 piece was now somewhere stuck?  More memories of retching to get every last drop from the evening help me empathize with Bear attempting to expunge something from his body.

Bear does settle down a bit, goes to the bathroom outside, and is ready for a good night’s rest.  Nit-picking is complete, Bear settled on his bed, and we are ready to call it a night, finally.

Bear dry-heaves again and I decide to call the veterinarian.  After being told that things can go downhill pretty quick with a dehydrated puppy, I pack up and take him across town to Dove Lewis pet-hospital.  They tell me that we should go in the side entrance as there could be potentially dangerous germs to keep Bear away from.  This is what I heard, but on reflection I realize they wanted us going in the side door to protect all the other dogs that might be in the main lobby.

After a quick physical, the vet says there may be something blocking his intestine.  He was in a lot of pain in one particular spot in his lower intestine.  “Is there anything that he could have eaten recently?”  she asks.  Legos and Nerf bullets run aplenty in our home and are available like food at a Las Vegas buffet.  Damn it, he got into the Indiana Jones set and was able to force a figurine down.

Bear being 14 weeks old and having already received three of the four Parvo vaccinations, it is unlikely that it is Parvo, but the vet needs to rule this out.  So a swab of stool is tested.

A mere twenty minutes later, slightly longer than a pregnancy test, but looking just like a store-bought pregnancy test, the Parvo test is positive.  This is when I realize that we were brought in the side entrance for just this situation.  Parvo is an extremely resilient, deadly virus.  High and low estimates are presented for Bear’s stay in the isolation ICU.  I ask if this will keep him from going to Kristin’s to be boarded while we are away in San Diego.

The enormity of Parvo has not hit me, and I wonder if I’ll be able to pick him up before Maggie’s 1030 am game.  The timing and location of her game was perfect.  We’d take Bear to the game, which was way out in Hillsboro, but very close to Forest Grove, where Kristin lives.  The vet very gently lets me know that it is unlikely he’ll be released later in the day (it being 130 in the morning by this time, game time is a mere nine hours away).

After nearly maxing out my credit card, Bear is taken to isolation ICU.  Before leaving I have to dip my feet in some solution to shed the Parvo, if any remained on me.

As the reality of Parvo sinks in, and the explanation of the danger of it and how it is transmitted, I manage to send an email to Kristin to let her know that Bear is Parvo positive.  It’s possible that other puppies he has played with have Parvo.  Bear could have gotten it from them, or he could have given it to them.

And then (3)

After each training session with Kristin, Bear goes on recess with his litter-mates and other dogs that she is training.  The favorite by far was Calvin.  Super mellow, Calvin would saunter up and lean up against you, nosing your hand to give him a pet.  He was the Mr. McGoo of the group.

Kristin’s message back at 730 the next morning is concern for Bear, hoping that he will pull through, and that Calvin was in a drug-induced coma, and that she might have to put him down.  She did have to put him down, and a large brain tumor is believed to be the cause.

Big bummer.

And then (4)

Declan and his friends are up, having breakfast and getting set for a day of Xbox and swimming.  Heather and I are trying to pick up the pieces before heading to Maggie’s game, then to visit Bear, then back to another game, and then back home to pack and get ready for our 630 am flight.  Still unsettled is where Bear will be when released from the hospital.

I send the boys down to brush teeth, hoping that Declan will find the tooth fairy’s gift.  He lost a tooth while I was at Dove Lewis. As I’m packing Bear’s pen and bed up, I hear the boys screaming that the bathroom is covered in water. F***!!

This goes back to digging the basement out and having the pump eject waste-water up to the main stack.  Intermittently, the pump will be on but not pumping anything out.  This causes water to back up out of the floor drain in the laundry room, and in this case the toilet never switched off after a flush.  The turn off valve never switched off, so the water just kept flowing, and with nowhere to go, it flowed over onto the tile in the bathroom and out into the hallway.  The good news is that the water flowing in the basement is clean, straight from the tap, almost.

Not sure why this gets the pump to work, but I merely have to unplug it and plug it back in and then it is able to work.  Every towel in the house is down soaking up a small portion of the water.  Did I mention that we are going to San Diego the next morning?

After several times wringing out towels in the bath and reapplying to the floor I have the stroke of genius to borrow Aaron’s steam cleaner to suck up the water.

It’s 1015 and we have to leave to catch some of Maggie’s game, which happens to be a mere five miles from Kristin’s house, where  Bear was supposed to stay.

On our way home we visited Bear.  He is not doing that well.  A cone around his head and an IV in his leg, he struggles to keep his head up.  The tech said that he was better in the morning, and even ate a bit, but after a giant diarrhea, he was clearly feeling worse.  He has not hit bottom.  We are hoping a bottom occurs that he climbs out of.  At this point they can only support him, providing hydration and nutrition.  He is also on some pain killers.

We are hopeful that he rebounds and is able to be picked up by friends who will care for him until we return.