Shelter Tales…The Five Letter Word Every Dog Lover Hates

I wonder how many people immediately knew the word when they read the title…Somehow I managed to live 45 years or more before I’d ever heard of the word.  Either it wasn’t around as much years ago, or we were just lucky and never encountered it.  Haven’t figured out the word yet?  It’s P A R V O…yes, the dreaded Parvo virus that puppies and young dogs get–which can so easily become a death sentence. 

Parvo is basically the equivalent of a stomach virus in dogs.  They can’t keep anything down.  They throw up, they get diarrhea, they get dehydrated, then die.  It comes on in a hurry, and it will kill a puppy quickly.  The sick puppy will look and feel just as miserable as humans do when we get a bad case of the stomach flu.

When I was volunteering at the shelter, I quickly learned about Parvo.  Unfortunately, the first thing that I learned is that an outbreak of it at the shelter meant death for all dogs there.  As a general rule, all are put to sleep, the shelter is then disinfected with bleach from top to bottom, and is closed for a certain number of days.  Parvo is extremely contagious–especially vulnerable are young dogs and puppies.  Older dogs can get it, too, but it won’t kill them…however, they can spread the virus–which is very easy to spread.

In my early days of volunteering, I adopted 3 dogs, within a few weeks of each other.  The first one I brought home was the old collie, Hobbs, (who recently passed), then I adopted Ethan, a hound mix, and Freckles, a chow mix.  I hadn’t had all of them too long when Ethan became sick with Parvo.  By then, I’d learned all about it, and was devastated when I realized my puppy had it.

I loaded Ethan up in my car and took him to the vet.  I used the same vet that the shelter did, because he would give me discounts on vet care for all of my animals,  because they were shelter adoptees.  Dr. S, the vet, quickly told me what I already suspected…he told me that he could keep Ethan in the hospital and he might make it, but it would be expensive–or I could take him home, force-feed him pedialyte around the clock, and pray for the best.  Financially, I didn’t have a choice…I had to treat him at home. 

Dr. S also warned me that Freckles was vulnerable, and would most likely catch the virus if not vaccinated–so knowing that my hubby is a medical person, Dr. S sent the Parvo vaccination home with me so Ed could vaccinate Freckles–which he did.  Fortunately, neither Freckles or Hobbs caught the virus.

Unfortunately, Ethan was sick enough for three dogs…I have never seen anything like that in my life.  I kept him closed up in the bathroom off my bedroom.  I cleaned up the worst smelling, most vile body fluids I’ve ever seen–and I’ve raised 3 children AND worked at school for 15 years…Nothing beats Parvo!  I force-fed poor Ethan that Pedialyte every couple of hours.  Some of it stayed down, some did not.  Some even made it out the other end…After a couple of days of that,  I began to offer Ethan some chicken broth.  Slowly, he began to drink, then eat.  He was one pitiful-looking puppy when Parvo finished with him–but he made it!

Ethan...after parvo

To this day, Ethan is “skittish” of me.  He remembers those syringes of Pedialyte being shoved down his throat–then later in his life I had to treat him for red mange, which was also unpleasant.  Ethan loves me, but he doesn’t completely trust me, which is sad.  In fact, these days he spends most of his days over at my daughter’s house!  She lives where we used to live, and I think that will always feel like home to Ethan… remember the picture of Ethan on his back on her porch???

I was prompted to write this story because yesterday my son, Brad, was telling me a story about his girlfriend, Jennifer, waking up and finding her new puppy sick–with Parvo.  They had a very eventful day because of that, but I’ll share that story on another day…until next time…Thanks for hopping by!

Don’t forget to comment and let me know if you’d like to be entered in Friday’s cash drawing for twenty dollars…I can’t wait to see who will win…It’s been a long month!   Kathy

Published in: on April 29, 2010 at 9:59 am  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I used to have a dog named Freckles! How cool is that? 🙂 Parvo is such a sad thing. I’m glad Ethan made it through it!! Happy Thursday Kathy 🙂

    oh yeah, you know I want the $20 but you keep telling us to remind you lol

  2. Would love to be in the draw

    It’s sad when an animal wouldn’t trust you when you do your best for it, but what a beautiful dog. It’s probably a mixture of the medicine and also the quarantine as well. I LOVE dogs, and I’ve had dogs all my life and never heard of PARVO, Do you know if it is something dogs around the world can get, or is it just in Europe or USA or wherever you are?

  3. Dogs are pretty amazing animals, right? You can easily train them, work with them and make friends with them. But that does not really apply to all because there are some dogs out there that tend to become very strict and they only obey to their owners.

    It is nice to know that despite of the fact that they can hurt people, many individuals still love to have one. It is their cuteness and their charm that makes people want to have them while they are still puppies.

  4. Until today I have never heard of PARVO. I guess because cats don’t get it? I have only ever had cats.
    It sounds like a dreadful illness. Is there a vaccination for pups against it?
    Ethan is a beautiful dog today and while he may not trust you completely I am sure he is grateful.

  5. I forgot…please enter me in the drawing.

  6. Thanks for your support. My little puppy is fighting it right now at the Vet. I don’t even want to think about the cost. Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. My puppy is currently lethargic now and always throwing up, it has just started and I’m also worried that it might affect the other puppy she is with in our garage. I hope she’d be okay sooner if not I’d be dying to see a vet. :((

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