(From my girlfriend's perspective because our dog is currently in her care. We are huge islands apart at the moment)
On January 27, I came home from church to see Ender lying listlessly on the floor. It was clearly a dramatic change from his bouncy, puppy self.
My first thought jumped straight to him being sick. I was determined not to panic, and tried to get him to move around and walk. Every action was half-hearted, and looked almost painful. He would just crawl back into his bed, which was actually under my bed, and look very sad and weak.
We were all pretty worried. I began searching online for his symptoms. Every result screamed “parvo”. That instant, I brought him to the vet.
From an online source, Parvovirus affects dogs usually between six weeks and six months old, when their immune system is still developing. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, fever, vomiting, and severe weight loss. It affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and the dog will quickly become dehydrated and weak from lack of protein and fluid absorption. Basically, the virus itself doesn’t kill, but the resulting dehydration can.
I read through many, increasingly depressing stories from owners who had lost their dogs to parvo. It was almost always sudden, and the chances for survival were around 50 percent, and largely seemed based on good timing and sheer luck. Some owners paid much to have their puppies treated in the best possible care, only to still lose them. Others managed to stick it out with home remedies. Most everyone agreed that those who couldn’t afford to take their dogs to the vet shouldn’t have one at all.
Ender was lethargic, had no appetite, and just wanted to sleep. He started to vomit a lot, and would also gag up spit. None of his stool was bloody, but it was still a bad sign. I knew I probably shouldn’t’ve been thinking these things, but I couldn’t help preparing myself for the worst. I was gonna take him to Cebu, back to Kharel, but I felt like I’d be going empty-handed. It was just bad timing. We already planned his vaccination this week, but we were just too late. The vet was bound to be very expensive, I was just starting at my work, Kharel has to pay bills for his masters study, and if it really was parvo, there was nothing much we could really do.
Given the circumstances, I kept my negative thoughts to myself. I had read someone’s account of their dog surviving parvo (a rarity), and unable to afford the vet, they had treated their pet themselves. As stated above, staying hydrated is the main problem, and sick puppies usually can’t keep anything down heavier than very bland foods and fluids.
The vet prescribed vitamins and medicines that I took home with me. I force-fed him and the other medications together with the powdered dextrose. It was a depressing work. He did nothing but sleep, only waking up to gag. The most alarming thing was how utterly sad he looked. I was too upset about the situation; my whole family took turns feeding him the fluids and cereal, and I stayed with him all day.
But his condition didn’t improved. I was worried sick that even though I was sure the treatment would leave us surviving on bread and beans for the rest of the week, going to the vet was the only option we had.
The closest facility to us was Dok Hayop in Tagoloan, which was about 50 minutes away from home. The veterinarian was a very nice young woman, who was both professional and sympathetic in how she dealt with us. The vet took Ender away for tests, and came back with the verification that it was indeed parvo and that he has a very low platelet count and the white blood cells are below normal which indicates that the virus already affected his bone marrow. It was what I expected, but it’s still devastating. She said that the treatment would be very costly and not all dogs could make it. It would just depend on how strong a dog is. The vet told me about the treatment plan for the next days. Although Kharel and I couldn’t afford it, we still cling to the small hope and took inspiration from our friends’ success stories.
There is no actual treatment for parvo. The virus does not respond to antibiotics. The most important thing for a dogs’ survival is IV fluids. They may give him something for his tummy to soothe the pain, vomiting, and pooping, but other than that it’s all fluids and prayer.
Ender is currently in the vet’s care. He is being injected with antibodies as suggested by the vet and one shot costs P800 plus the admission per day and the other medications given to him. With that expenses, it is easy to just give up. But there is hope and there is faith. I cried in my visit earlier when he weakly wagged his tail when he saw me. I know he wants to play and live a little longer. I know that he is fighting with all his might to live and be our happiness again. I just knew. He is such a bubble of joy, and it seems that his greatest happiness is to give love to people around him. To some people, it may sound absurd to use money as big as that for a dog. But when I look into his eyes, I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I see a family. I see a soul.
Ender has become an integral and wonderful part of our lives, and nothing makes us happier than coming home to see him greet us, wiggling his entire body out of excitement.
Please help fund Ender in his battle with parvo. Any amount will be greatly appreciated.